Nov

21

 So here we are once again. Thanksgiving is fast upon us and the madness we refer to as the "Holiday Season" is upon us. Thanksgiving is like the feast before the slaughter in many ways. For one day we can eat, drink and watch football without worrying about gift giving or shopping. Unless of course you are one of the many dumbasses heading out for Black Friday shopping in the wee hours of the morning then it's just the pre-battle dinner. I cannot for the life of me imagine of anything I need badly enough to head out for Black Friday or pre Thursday shopping. I do not think I could look some poor minimum wage store clerk in the ye that had to come to work Thanksgiving at midnight so I could save a few bucks on a big screen TV and Tickle me (but not there without checking ID first) Elmo. Call me sentimental but I remember when Thanksgiving was about family, friends with lots of food and booze and not carb loading for shopping madness that puts WWE action to shame.

Tomorrow is the big travel today although some signs of the exodus have already started to appear. I am always that people will fight their way along turnpikes , through airports and jam into trains like sardines to spend a day with a bunch of folks they really don't like that much anyway. There is nothing like fighting your way up I95 to spend two or three days of hearing about all the things you did wrong 30 years ago and rehash all the wrongs done to your siblings over the years. It must be magical to do a Usain Bolt through the Atlanta or Dallas airports to be in time to once again watch Uncle Frank can shit canned on your dads good booze while your cousins new baby daddy explains the intricacies of the parole and probation system over dried turkey and mashed potatoes that could easily double as stucco and mortar. There is a reason most of us don't live that close to our extended family. Thanksgiving is a time to explore all those highly dysfunctional and unpleasant reasons while fueled up on liquor. Ah, the holidays indeed.

 We will see all those commercials and Hallmark movies that show families gathered to delightful dinners in a glow of soft candlelight. Most of us that have experienced the large extended family holiday gatherings over the years know that a far different picture usually emerges. Mom is frazzled beyond the breaking point after two days cooking and cleaning and is desperately trying to resist the urge to smother her younger single professional sister in the green bean casserole after the 19th story about her fabulous weekends, dad and Uncle Ernie are drinking Jack in the back yard an about to break into a fistfight over who won the 1972 Super Bowl, Aunt Ethel is puking in the potted plants, the baby has managed to obtain and eat an entire pumpkin pie, and although Johnny is home from the army no one has seen him or his 17 years step cousin in some time now although there is bright red thong where his car used to be parked. The TV is blaring a football game no one cares about and the youngsters are in the den watching 9 and ½ Weeks while Grandpa snores strenuously in the middle of it all and Grandma is slumped in the recliner with a bottle of sherry and a bendy straw. The great American family holiday!

After a few too many holiday gathering exactly like the one described above, along with threats of rectally inserted turkeys and full on food fights among unrestrained youngsters I have the misfortune of sharing a blood line with, the kids and I years ago came to the conclusion that we would rather say home and celebrate things our way. The Melvin way means tons of food, good wine and we only allow people we like to join us. My wife is of the same mindset so our holidays have become good times with people we actually enjoy being around. We admit no one we don't care for regardless of birth circumstances, social status or blood type. It makes for a much more enjoyable relaxed holiday experience.

 It is also a time of year when we really should set aside our worries for a moment and be thankful for all we have in life. There is plenty to worry about this year. Our government is heading away from a free market republic to more of a democratic big government form of socialism. There are plenty of historical precedents for this but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The economy sucks. Soccer is gaining in popularity. The Blue Jays just got a lot better and will be a threat this year. Taxes are going up. There is either global warming, climate change or a looming ice age depending which channel you have on at the moment. Honey Boo-Boo has her own show. Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton are still taken seriously be entirely too large a percentage of the population. Teen paranormal romance is now a section in Barnes and Noble stores. My Mother is coming next month. Rap music has not died off yet. The head of the CIA can't even have a covert affair. There aren't going to be any more Twinkies or ho-hos soon. There are plenty of things to worry about but this time of year is about being thankful.

 As always I have to start with family. I have been blessed with an amazing if somewhat eccentric and weird immediate family. I have no idea why my amazing wife would marry me but every day I am damn glad she did. She calms me, excites me, and makes my life better in every way imaginable. I have no idea what she sees in me. I am messy, absent minded, stubborn and difficult…and those are my good qualities. She is a saint of putting up with me much less loving me. Every day I wake up next to her is a good one. Lisa has grown into this smart confident young woman and Tommy is a businessman of the highest order without losing an ounce of his magnificent if crude sense of humor. Maeve is growing smarter and more artistic with each passing day. Each day I am reminded that I am a lucky man and that I blessed that these amazing people put up with me.

I am also blessed with some great friends. Many culled themselves off the list in the aftermath of the great IRR last year but those that remain are steadfast and true companions along the road of life. I don't travel as much right now so I may not be sharing bar adventures and dubious cocktails with the Chicago Curmudgeon, the Voodoo Professor, The world's only living Iranian Jewish cartoonist, the degenerate Kentucky Colonel, the Cheesehead or others but I talk to them frequently still through the magic of Facebook, twitter and other modern communication devices. I don't see the island crowd every other night at the bar like the old days but I am still in touch with people like the littlest firefighter, Tic-tac, Rag Lady, and others. I expect to see them when the snow is ass high in the Mid Atlantic this winter. I am in contact with great people like Baldy, the Beard, the Preacher and Granola on a daily basis during market hours and beyond. I have a solid group of friends and for that I am thankful.

When toy get right down to it at it is core life is magnificent. There is so much to be thankful for each year that we really should take time to express and explore our gratitude more often. My list grows all the time but among other things I am thankful for:

Each day I wake. This beats the living shit out of the alternative.

 The dog. I still hate pets but walking the thing around the neighborhood here in Florida has led to me walking a few miles a day and losing about 10 pounds since we got here. Still not a fan of picking up the steaming piles of fresh shit but at least I don't gag or throw up anymore.

Alligators. I love alligators. The dog and I see two or three a day and they are just cool. I may be grey and losing my hair but I am like a little kid when I see alligators.

Same for Pelicans. Have to drive to the coast to see them but I get a huge kick out of pelicans.

Books. Friends ,educators, entertainers, companions. Brain food. It's a lifelong love affair.

Wine. Rounds off the edges off a bad day and adds a sparkle to the good ones. Damn tasty too.

The fact that less than 1/10 of one percent of investors pay a lick of attention to tangible asset value. The faux value investors out there create opportunities for those of us who actually practice it.

Ben Graham, Chris Browne, Walter Schloss and all the other greats who paved the way.

Florida. Can't manage an election or field a decent professional football team to save their lives but this is a great place to live.

Did I mention my incredible wife?

Zombies, Bikers and Insane Asylums.

Newspapers. I still love an old fashioned actual ink and paper newspaper. My extraordinary wife actually got me subscription to the daily paper here in Orlando. That never would have occurred to me.

Twitter. I freaking love Twitter. If you set your feed up right its better than a news ticker most days. It's also a lot of fun to trade barbs and quips with people like @tangletrade,@byrneTSCM, @Brian Sozzi and others.

Greed. No matter how much my liberal friends deny it greed has been the source of much of human advancement. Rather it be greed for money, achievement or knowledge greed moves us forward.

Sunsets. I am sure sunrises are awesome too but I don't get up that early if I can avoid it. With a 9yr old who thinks 7 is late I see more of them these days.

Sleeping in. Its rare these days so I appreciate it even more

Naps. I love naps. You can never take enough naps.

Travis McGee, Doc Ford, Spenser, Hawk, Tomlinson, Agent Prendergast, John Cory, Thorn, Jesse Stone, Stone Barrington, Lucas Davenport, Horatio Hornnblower, Cletus Frade, Harry Dresden and all the other boon companions of the written word.

 Baseball, my life friend and obsession. The Orioles in the playoffs just makes the year better. The Red Sox sucking is just sublime

Football because who doesn't like barely controlled violence with half naked dancing girls?

Beethoven, Bach, Miles Davis, Wilson Pickett, Handel, Springsteen, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, the Grateful Dead and everyone else who plays the soundtrack of my life.

My wife. My kids. My life. I am a lucky man and I know it. I have much to be thankful for again this year.

Now let's get the bird in the oven. Uncork the wine and get this party started. Happy Thanksgiving.


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