Studies have come out this year saying that the American public watches too much TV and reads too little. So this year, our Christmas letter comes to you as a public service announcement combining a rundown of favored television programming in an easy to read text format. So, pop some corn, grab a beverage and the remote, and settle in on the couch.

Channel 2: Flick over Sesame Street, Hannah learned to read and much to Mom’s dismay, is not ‘into’ Muppets any more, although she wouldn’t mind hosting Reading Rainbow. Arthur, of course, is cool to all kids although, as he is a 4th grader, Chr’s is a little worried that Shannon and Elizabeth have fallen for an older man. Good thing that he’s an aardvark or dating rules might have to be enforced. The girls are not the only ones to lust after men on channel 2. No, not me, but Chr’s does. No, No, No! Not like THAT! He’d just like to imagine that if he can accumulate enough tools and flannel shirts, Poof, he’d turn into Norm Abram overnight. In case that doesn’t happen, he’s spent a lot of time trying out Tommy Silva plumbing skills and Dean Johnson’s floor laying techniques finishing off the basement. It’s not just a finished basement, but a shrine to the Home Improvement Gods. If you are still watching this channel when the Red Green Show comes on, switch to the local networks.
Come on, you know how, just ready your pointer finger over the up button and push, repeatedly and rapidly so that you skip the Soaps and the News – don’t complain, you’ve watched a lot of TV already and you should really be exercising your mind by reading the news in a paper instead of getting it on the tube. STOP! Go back and see if ER is a repeat. You really should stop there and freshen up on medical advances. You never know when you may have to ‘gown up’ and count to three with 30 other people. Julie doesn’t do it very often now, she’s in a state of rapidly fluxing retirement, but counts and lifts when necessary, and has had a great deal of practice lifting not only patients, but sheetrock. JoAnn Leibler she is not. Hit a Talk Show briefly, not too long because you’ll have to watch religiously in a few years when Shannon becomes host of one. It will be called ‘Shannon’s Day’ and there won’t be any guests, just Shan talking and talking and talking. A phone will be involved and probably she’ll demonstrate a project that you can ‘finish later.’
OK, nothing else on? Flick over to the DSS. Music, more News, Sports… keep going… Disney? well, stop briefly if the kids are up. Next. TVLand; “Rampart, this is 51, we have a situation and we’d like to start an IV and run D5W, ETA will be 20 minutes” recognize that? More older men my children have fallen in love with even though they’ve been giving the same treatment to every victim in every situation for years, and never, ever, count to 3 like the modern medical shows, and, no one bleeds.
Now, if you want blood, go down a few more channels to Animal Planet for Animal Vets and Animal Rescue. You can watch live action vets do amazing things without ever having to walk a dog. We do not have a dog as it might not get along well with Crawler, the crab, who some people in this house are very attached to. Gotta love those kindergarten teachers who hand out strange animals in Cool-Whip containers at the end of a year… Two of the three girls want to be vets at any given moment. At any other moment, they want to be alligator catchers with Steve and Teri Irwin. We are always on the lookout for any swampy areas in case we might be called in to assist with a wild alligator capture. Steve caught his first alligator at 8, and so at 6 1/2, 5 and 5, they need all the practice they can get you see.
Click, Click, Click. A Baywatch repeat. Well, that will be Elizabeth when she’s not out practicing veterinary medicine or using her doctorate of pediatric medicine to give out baby care advice on Lifetime. In her spare time off from foster parenting live and stuffed animals and babies, she’ll be a long legged blond out randomly running on some beach, singing, – except her suit will be blue, ‘cause that’s her favorite color. Or maybe purple, ‘cause that’s her favorite color. Or…you get the picture.
Click, click, click, Ah…HGTV. Just as Chr’s dreams that he could be the next Bob Villa, Julie thinks she’s destined to be the next gourmet chef, home decorator, and garden expert. Unfortunately we all know Julie, and lawn fertilizer frightens her as much as using the oven, but hey, she plans a party to rival Martha Stewart and her driving record is flawless. (*Had to throw that in as I just couldn’t think of another really fabulous skill she had.)
Stop on the Travel Channel every once in a while and look for Chr’s. He’s again out roaming the country with his job and sometimes the girls and I are tempted into wandering with him to sight-see a bit. Sometimes we decide to wander, and he comes to find us. It’s kind of like Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, but, he plays “Where in the country was I supposed to meet my wife and kids?” Pay close attention to any show called Mountain Biking in Jamaica, Dresses Worn by Beautiful Brides, or The Rain in Washington Falls Mainly on The Phelps. *Chr’s would like any young suitors reading this to be aware that Hannah, Shannon and Elizabeth are allowed only to drool over bridal attire worn by other brides for at least the next 20 years and only after college diplomas are signed and sealed.
Check the Weather Channel early in the day so you know which coat to wear to school and if there is any hint of green on the radar in a 700 mile radius, try to stuff an umbrella in your backpack, just in case. Don’t pay any attention to any grownup who says, “Don’t worry, it’s too far away,” because you can always bring up the one time that it did rain and you didn’t have your umbrella and you got all wet and it was a day when you had a really important note to bring home and even though it was encased in several layers of crayon covered papers, you were still worried all the way home that it would get wet, even though it had stopped sprinkling by the time you crossed the street…………
Don’t we sound like the perfect American family? We admit that we watch TV but we have countered it with the old fashioned skills of letter writing, which leads to letter reading. On the technology side, Chr’s answers E-mail and the girls can get on the Internet to get Julie’s E-mail for her. Come visit us in 2000, we’ll be holed up in our Y2K prepared shelter (KIDDING- we are actually in the same ordinary house as last year, if you can believe it, and trusting that the local electric company is confident in it’s ability to keep us in electricity….so we can continue to watch TV. (Kidding again!) So…the next time your TV remote has you bored silly, tune into the Phelps channel where they expect frequent showings of the old musical “Hosting the Tooth Fairy,” and the May sweeps presentations will include the documentary, “Graduating from Preschool,” and a repeat of the movie “She’s Having a Baby.” (KIDDING! KIDDING! KIDDING! ! We put that in just in case the universe as we know it DOES end, we wanted some of your last ten thoughts to include such things as; ”1) I loved my family and they loved me; and 2) Wow, that last Phelps Christmas letter sure was a hum-dinger wasn’t it! Won’t forget that one for awhile. Wonder what will happen to them in 2000? I guess I better keep in touch.”)

Have a very pleasant Holiday Season and we wish everyone well in 2000.
The Phelps: Chr’s, Julie, Hannah, Elizabeth and Shannon

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