Framma and Frappa Frantastic had five frabulous children: Freddie, Fralph, Frieda, Frannie, and the baby, Frappucina.
As each child came of age, Framma and Frappa presented him or her with a house. That way, each child learned how to clean and how to cook, and they each had a chance–and a space in which–to develop his or her own skills.
Freddie learned that he loved to work with wood. He made tables and chairs, desks, and picture frames. He taught all his friblings how to measure, saw, and hammer without error.
Fralph found he was a cook. When he simmered his stews, he drew the whole family to his house. He loved having them all around his table. He loved to feed them, and he loved to teach them his culinary secrets.
Frieda decorated! She could make a lovely display out of things she found in the woods, laying on the sidewalk, or in her junk drawer. She had an artistic eye and an imaginative soul. Her family praised her creations, and all of her friblings loved working on special displays with her.
Frannie threw herself into working with plants, indoors and out. She could make a tiny seed shoot up six feet high. She sang to her plants, and she said they sang back to her.
“Teach us those songs!” her friblings begged.
When Frappucina came of age, Framma and Frappa presented her with her house. Then they gathered all five children for an announcement.
“Now that you are all grown, and can take care of yourselves,” began Framma…
“…we are taking our long awaited world tour,” finished Frappa.
“It should take us four or five months,” Framma added, helpfully.
The Frantastic children were stunned. Five months? But then they thought, How wonderful. How wonderful for Framma and Frappa. And how wonderful that they know we can take care of ourselves.
The children helped their parents pack, and they waved them off with barely any tearful goodbyes.
It was a little weird at first, living without the tender strong center parents provide, but soon they found they were quite liking the novel sense of autonomy. Every day they worked together, shared their skills, and created new things…furniture or food, decorations, floral displays…
And they were all watching to see what Frappucina’s special skill would be.
So far she seemed to love doing everything, but not to be particularly brilliant at anything.
The days rolled on into weeks. Framma and Frappa sent cards and called every three days. The weather changed, the leaves brightened, and then the leaves fell, and one morning, when they met in the courtyard to plan their day, the Frantastics found fluffy white snow on the ground
They knew what that meant: the Feast of the Fruminaria was fast approaching!
They began to get ready.
Freddie made each of them a wooden frame to put outside their homes. Frieda gathered pine cones and vines and made a very pretty display on hers. She twined twinkle lights throughout, and it was very beautiful.She shared her supplies with the others and they each had fun making a display.
Ralph invited them all over to decorate the cookies he had made. Frieda’s were frilly. Frannie’s looked like flowers. Freddie’s were well-constructed. Fralph’s were delicious to taste, and delicious to behold.
Frappucina’s were, frankly, a little bit odd-looking, but she had so much fun with the frosting and the sprinkles that she made them all laugh, over and over and over again.
It was a good day. They went off to their little houses tired, excited, and happy.
The next day they had a surprise visitor. It was their cousin Drano from Drabulatia.
They all liked Drano, even though he was a little bossy.
The first thing he did was check out their decorations.
“This is the only GOOD one,” he said when he came to Frieda’s. “Why don’t you let her do all of yours?”
The Frantastic kids looked around. Suddenly they saw their decorations through outsider eyes.
Drano was right. Except for Frieda’s, the decorations were all–well, they were just frappy-looking.
“I’ll be happy to do yours over for you,” Frieda said to all of them. At first she was kind and sweet. Then she got a little crazy. They weren’t all sure they liked the creations she put in front of their houses, but she and Drano insisted they were brilliant.
They had a coffee break and Drano tasted their cookies. He said Freddie’s were clunky, Frieda’s and Frannie’s were too francy, and Frappucina’s were just plain weird. Fralph’s were the only good ones, he said. They looked at each other, then they looked at the cookies they’d thought were so wonderful only the night before.
Each one, when he or she thought no one else was looking, slipped their particular not-quite-right cookies into the garbage. Except for Fralph, of course…Fralph got just a little high and mighty about being the King of Cookies.
Drano decided Freddie had the only comfortable furniture.
He said Frannie was the only one whose landscaping was worth a frit.
And he said it didn’t seem like Frappucina had any special skills at all.
“Too bad,” he said. “I guess there’s one in every family.””
And then he left, whistling and skipping a little, clutching a bag of Fralph’s good cookies.
The friblings sat. They couldn’t think of a single thing to do that might be fun. Before it even got dark, they drifted to their own houses. Each went to bed early, and each tossed and turned discontentedly.
But the next morning brought a wonderful surprise: Framma and Frappa were home—home just in time for the Feast of the Fruminaria!
They had had a wonderful time, and they had stories to tell and gifts to share. Together, Framma and Frappa fixed a big, wonderful breakfast, and as they ate their first meal as a reunited family, the Frantastics all began to cheer up.
The children were anxious to show their parents what they’d done while they were gone. Framma and Frappa admired Freddie’s new chairs,and they asked what the other fribs had made.
They loved Frannie’s planting, and they looked for the plants at the other houses. They liked Frieda’s decorations, but they were puzzled when they looked at the other children’s.
“This just doesn’t feel like it’s yours,” they said to each one.
It was the same with Fralph’s cookies…Framma and Frappa loved them, of course, but they were sad not to see their other children’s creative hands in that fun and tasty project.
“Did we tell you,” asked Freddie, “that Drano was here?”
“Ah,” said Framma to Frappa.
Frappa was quiet for a minute. Then he said, “Let’s open presents!”
What a lovely lot of things Framma and Frappa brought them–fripperies and furbelows, francies, funny faddy things, and frodaciously frumptious frivolities. The Frantastics were ecstatic, and they played together and ate together and laughed together all day.
They had so much fun. It was almost impossible to say who enjoyed it most, BUT–Frappucina had the widest grin and the loudest laugh, and the way she trilled and carried on made them all smile, inside and out.
That was a wonderful day. And, as the sun dropped behind the horizon, each of the Frantastic kids kissed the parents, hugged the friblings, and wandered off to bed—except for Frannie. Right at the end, Frannie had gotten thoughtful; she’d gotten quiet. And she waited.
When her brothers and sisters had all drifted off to their homes to sleep, she went to her parents and asked the question that was fracking her heart.
“Do you think it’s really true,” she asked, “that Frappucina isn’t good at anything?”
“Ah, Frannie,” said Framma, and Frappa gave Frannie a great strong hug.
“Everyone,” said Frappa, “has many, many gifts. Finding them is your life’s work.”
“But,” said Framma, “you are all on your way. Already–
“Freddie is a carpenter; his gift is to shape the wood.
“Fralph is a chef; his gift is to fricassee and fry and to feed us with his lovingly cooked food.
“Frieda is a decorator; she combines elements to make us feel happy and at home.
“YOU are a horticulturist; you coax even the most reluctant plant to grow into glossy beauty.
“Frappucina is going to grow into many wonderful skills and gifts, but right now she has discovered one of the very, very best: she is an enjoyer.”
“An enjoyer,” said Frannie thoughtfully.
“Did you ever notice,” said Frappa, “how Frappucina’s laughter makes us all laugh? How she reminds us how good breakfast tastes or how nice it is to all be together?”
“She does,” said Frannie. “She does do that!”
“Each of you is brilliant at your big thing”, said Framma, “and because of that, we all appreciate those things a little more and a little better. Frappucina’s big thing is enjoyment; she makes us all enjoy EVERYTHING deeper and better.”
That was exactly right, Frannie thought; what Framma and Frappa said was right and true. Frappucina DOES add spice and life to every occasion.
But,– “Why did Drano make us all feel so BAD?” asked Frannie.
“Well,” said Frappa, and he looked at Framma, and he smiled and shrugged. “Drano may be my nephew, Frannie, but when it comes to enjoyment, I’m afraid he’s a little,—a little,— What is it I’m trying to say, my dear?”
“CLOGGED,” said Framma. “When it comes to enjoyment, we’re afraid Drano is a little CLOGGED.”
“Ah,” said Frannie. “I think I see. But if Drano is clogged, do you think he will ever discover his special thing?”
“Let’s hope,” said Framma, “he is lucky enough to spend time with a creator and time with an enjoyer, and to keep his eyes open and his mouth closed. It’s the very best way to get unclogged.”
“I’m glad you’re home,” said Frannie, and she hugged her parents, and she skipped back to her own little house, thinking about the treasures the next day could bring.