Don't Invite Jeffrey

Dear friends,


Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. I hope it was warm and fun, and you were able to build your relationships, old or new. 


If you are separated from family and friends, I trust you found a welcoming place to spend the day, and didn’t wind up like me on my first Thanksgiving away from home at age 19. I was a fresh college dropout and living on my own on the east coast, 3,000 miles from my family in Seattle. Someone I barely knew took pity on me and invited me for Thanksgiving dinner with his extended family, which sounded nice. Little did I know it would henceforth be known to me as “Thanksgiving from Hell.” It turns out that their most cherished family tradition was drunkenly insulting and threatening one another. I won’t go into all the details, but will only note that the last words of the afternoon from the family matriarch, before tearfully locking herself in her bedroom, were, “You have ruined another holiday for this family, Jeffrey.” I still don’t know which of the miscreants was Jeffrey. It could have been any of them.


After that I kind of avoided holidays with other people’s families, even adopting alternative Thanksgiving traditions. Once I even had Thanksgiving by myself, although that wasn’t so great, because I sort of made a version of Jeffrey inside my own head and felt miserable.


When the kids were little and we were living in Maryland, Mrs. B generally went to see her mom in Barcelona for Thanksgiving week, and took one of the kids, leaving me with the other two. For six or seven straight years, our Thanksgiving tradition was to eat at a local restaurant and then go to the movies. The kids loved it, but the waiter always looked at me with pity. His eyes said, “That's a newly-divorced father, with unexpected custody of the kids for Thanksgiving.” Then again, maybe that was just Jeffrey making mischief in my head again.


We celebrated Thanksgiving at home this year, with two of our kids, The Heir and CPL Mini-me, as well as Mrs. B2 and Mini’s lovely girlfriend. The Baby joined us over FaceTime. Jeffrey was not invited.


The Baby couldn’t join us in person because, unbelievably, her America-hating communist university in Spain doesn’t observe American Thanksgiving. She marked the day over there with a rugby match with her team. Here she is doing something with the rugby ball…perhaps scoring a twiddlebatch or marking a clovercrush, or whatever they do in that confusing game.


Speaking of exotic Euro sports, I hope you are enjoying the World Cup, which like everything else in the world, is now supposed to make a statement about everyone’s politics. Except mine, that is, and frankly I’m outraged. I will not rest until every athlete wears an armband that says, “Eliminate the Carried Interest Provision from the Internal Revenue Code.” No justice, no peace!


Mrs. B insists on watching the Spain games in the World Cup. I am very supportive. Here, we are enjoying the thrilling finish of a 1-1 tie.


The week before Thanksgiving was a big travel and speaking week for me, starting with the Irving Kristol Lecture in Washington, DC, which I delivered at the National Building Museum for an audience of 1,800. This is an award given by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and past awardees include Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (in which he made his infamous “irrational exuberance” remark about the stock markets, tanking the value of equities worldwide). Before you get too impressed that I am one of this august group, though, you should know (if you didn’t already) that I was the president of AEI for almost 11 years. So I wouldn’t call the award exactly “merit-based” in my case. I’ll put the award next to the trophy from my kids that says, “World’s Greatest Dad.”


You can watch the speech here if you want, or read it here


Here I am in a tuxedo, giving my big speech, which did not cause a run on markets. It appears, though, I did a crack impression of an ax-murderer while delivering my remarks.


From Washington DC, I headed up to Connecticut, where I spoke to a business group, then out to California for five days of speeches and planning my next book with my co-author, someone you all have heard of, and about which I’ll give more details shortly. For now, you will just have to wonder who old Arthur is writing a book with. I know, I know–you probably won’t sleep a wink until I reveal the identity.

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