THE DOWNFALL OF THE CHRISTMAS BRAG LETTER!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Before the Internet, people took to sending letters for Christmas about what they accomplished and why their families were perfect. For years, we were plagued by this form of advertising, but there always seems a catch-22 to life.
This is true story, but the names have been changed so nobody decided to sue for the Holidays.

Submitted: December 04, 2014

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Submitted: December 04, 2014

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Christmas 2009--- Grandfather Blues---
You may know me as that jovial guy on TV on that Sunday morning CBS show.
I am the guy with the quirky human nature stories. I normally behave like my TV personality, nice,jovial, humorous. However, this holiday, I have the blues, and my temper is more like the Tasmanian devil of Warner Brothers fame. The cause of my out bursts, and blues is based on mans dumb Darwinian natural law to reproduce.


YOU SEE MY DAMN KIDS DIDN'T CALL FOR FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS.
NOR DID THEY SEND A NICE GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS.
NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, BUBKISS.

Now, like every man who is getting older and seeing the grim reaper on his porch step or waiting to be taken down turning a round of golf with a big gripping heart-attack; I am reconsidering why I created offspring?  I felt that I deserved better. Wasn't I considered a great father?

I even let my SON, WILLIE GEIST, STEAL MY TOTAL ACT, MY SCHTICK, THAT I PERFECTED WITH YEARS OF HARD WORK.
Yes, that is my son Willie Geist, the kid who works MSNBC and that infamous Cable Company.
Yet, my Son can't even get me a special deal on cable. That would have been a great Christmas gift, free cable. If you are awake at five in the fucking morning, you may have seen my Son being the Morning Joe's side kick with the sexy Polish woman and that boring guy Joe, who says Ronald Reagan,as if he has that weird Republican Tourette syndrome.
With a stupid hope flicking in my Fatherly soul, I begin again checking all means of conversation in hope of something recorded on Voice Mail, cell-phone, home-phone, Email, or smoke signals.I see that life has kicked me in the balls, once again. Nothing at all from the Kids, Grand-kids.“THOSE UNGRATEFUL TURDS.” I screamed this at the top of my lungs.

You see. I was humanly alone. It was just me and my pets in the house. (The damn wife went Christmas shopping for those traitors and Grandtraitors, who are cute now, but will leave me broke and alone like their useless parents.) Thankfully, the cats and dog come running up to see if I need help.Good Bless the beasts and curse the children. I started talking to my pets. This is good therapy, so if you think I am crazy, go F yourself. Looking at the pet's loving and faithful eyes; I ask them the big
questions about life:
“Why did I pay for my kids trinkets, clothes, cars and giant college fund? “
“ Why did I spend hours wasting time with their boring kid events?”
“How rich would I have been if I hadn't bothered making carbon copies of myself?”


All that math would depress me, so I don't want to break out the calculator, as the truth of numbers and logic would send me into a deeper funk then I am already in.
The two cats and dog listen intently and jump on the couch to sit on my lap. They are the best.
If only they could talk, it would be the perfect antidote to my wasted life with kids, relatives, etc....
So it goes, I was depressed and sought comfort with man's best friend my dog and two cats, plus a libation called glug. Glug, a Swedish invention is really grain alcohol mixed with fruit to make it healthy. This concoction is much better than that other Swedish inventions. I once owned a Saab car that actually wouldn't start in the winter or worse yet ABBA, that horrid pretend rock band. Being a baby boomer, I found those Swedes actually killing Rock and Roll with a lot sugary nonsense.

Yes, you snot nose kids, I am a damn baby boomer that misses the 1960s. Because of you little twits, who don't respect your elders, I have turned to drugs and pets to get me through my lousy day. My new drug of choice is Glug. Glug is a fine mixture of 180 proof booze and spices. I have the Glug mixed after obtaining red wine, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom,ginger, cloves and bitter orange. NEXT I pour in the stronger spirits vodka, akvavit and brandy. I feel like Timonthy Leary right now mixing all these wonders of nature into my giant glug bowl. Here is my antidote to the fake face-book crowd, who really need to expand their universe outside that flickering computer screen. Thank god for Glug in these mean horrid times.

You see glug is the closest thing to LSD, that you obtain legally. It does make you feel happy, plus trippy. Every-time I drink this stuff; I swear I can go back in time. Before I got married, when I wore sandals, bell-bottoms and dated a girl who called herself MoonBEAM Montana.  AH! WOW!!!, COOL... Just the fumes are getting me HIGH.
I start singing to the cats and dog. “LET ME TAKE YOU HIGHER... HIGHER... BOOM SHOCK,LOCKA...” I am traveling back in time.... I FEEL IT.. OH.. YES...
 

The good ole days before I had ungrateful children. I can almost see me and MoonBean traveling around the USA following The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Waldo's Gutbucket Syncopates. Beam me up Mr. Gulg. Let's engage the Time warp machine to go back. I mix up the batch of glug in a festive holiday bowl, then get a fireplace match out and proceed to light the Glug on fire. Yes, this is the correct way to serve Glug, since you have to burn off the booze,or it would kill you. The stuff is like jet fuel. One tip is to lock up the pets and have a fire extinguisher handy, before starting your Glug festival. Before, I start drinking the Glug, I gather up the Will and Testaments from the safe. I take out my CBS Sunday morning Pen and then engage in operation Hensley. She is the rich woman who left all her money to her dog. I then proceeded to change the Wills. I replaced my Kids names with the pets' names and leave everything else to a Pet adoption center near my house. The Glug is ready, and I pour a tiny glass to start off slow. This would have been a great glug trip,until I made the big mistake of trying to find a Christmas card from my kids. Like a bad LSD trip, I would relive my past forgetting that I wasn't a privileged kid, like my kids. I was born a working class kid, the blue-collar tribe, not the white-collar tribe.

What a strange trip. Dear Mr. Glug, show me the happy times, not some horrid images of my past. What the hell, I slug down another glass of glug and toast my pets. I start having the visions already.There is my old man, the truck driver, ex-marine, drinker of Glug and anything else that contained alcohol. Pop's made it out of the blue-collar tribe and ended up a minor manager at a major oil company,then they screwed him over on his pension and severance. I still feel like throwing up whenever, I see a commercial for big oil company.
“WHAT A BUNCH OF FUCKING CROOKS!”
“HERE'S TO THE OLD MAN!” I toast dear old dad, who loved his booze and pets.
“GOD, I MISS YOU!” “AMERICA IS IN THE SHITTER NOW.
“ BIG OIL, BIG BANKS ARE SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF US, DAD.”

After shouting these things the animals decide to move to the other side of the couch. I start opening up the junk mail and the few remaining Christmas cards, with my usual aplomb. With disgust, I throw the bills on one side and the sales pitches in the shred pile. What a crappy Christmas,layoffs, foreclosures and two wars seem to be designed by Scrooge or is it Dick Cheney.
Happiness and laughter are the key for the Christmas blues or is it booze! Oh wait, this Christmas card should be good for a few chuckles. You must know this type of Christmas card/letter. The infamous brag letter.
( I am not sure in the Internet age, but isn't Twitter and Facebook just a short hand version of saying, “HEY LOOK AT ME! I AM IMPORTANT! LOOK HOW GREAT I AM!” As my friend you are only worth one hundred and forty characters, and I can unfriend you! This is just very short version of the brag letter)


Actually, I don't have to read the current Christmas brag letter, since I know it will be the same ole crap from the Drago's, yes their kids are geniuses. Zippy Dee do da.Holy Crap, the GLUG IS WORKING... I am seeing my childhood home in Illinois. It is all started to come back. Those strange CHRISTMAS BRAG letters. I am seeing my Dad laughing his ass off after getting the mail.

You see we were given the virus called the Christmas Brag letter for many years. The Glug magically has me zooming into a little sleepy burb near Chicago. The time the 1960s. My family is fighting over how to get through Christmas. My old man was an agnostic, and my Mother was a church goer that wanted to fit in. The neighborhood is decked out with all those lights and real trees,while my old man is shouting, while decked out in his boxer shorts: (The old man ran around the house in boxers, summer, fall, spring or winter as he was almost a nudist, he always drank beer all year round saying that it nutritious and really just liquid bread.)

I hear the old man yelling his feelings about Christmas:
“It's a damn PLOT TO SELL YOU CRAP, THIS HOLIDAY!”
The old man never liked Christmas, except for a couple of traditions.
One, free bottles of booze, second making fun of the neighbors for falling off ladders stringing up lights, while our house stood in stark contrast for the old man's agnostic beliefs. Pops wouldn't hang tinsel,wouldn't bother to drag a tree into the living room or hang any commercial ode to Christmas near or in the house. The old man did get joy when he dropped cash into the Salvation Army kettle. But it was the first Christmas brag letters that made him get into some weird Christmas spirit. We didn't
know at the time, but the disease of the brag letter needs to germinate.

 All it takes is class warfare, relocation, hubris to change the birthday of Christ to a celebration of braggadocio.
Now my mind is whirling. Jesus, I am getting dizzy.
Why I am feeling hot and sun burnt?
MY GOD, the glug is taking me back into a summer day, not winter. But why? Oh yes, that is when we first met the founders of the Christmas Brag letter. The Tarlington's moved into our neighborhood during the summer of 1965. That is when we first met the Tarlington's a family from a different tribe, the white-collars. It was a strange event that summer. Our first exposure to the elite, educated and erudite members of society.

You see my neighbors, at the time, were all blue-collar types. It was both exciting and scary that we were finally meeting the upper-crust people. The neighbors were totally clueless on how these college people behaved. For us, it was like one of those National Geographic Specials, watching how the Pygmies get through their day. After witnessing, White Collar behavior, we would have been much better off with the Pygmies. White Collar behavior in the neighborhood shocked many, and it still
makes me cringe when I remember the insanity of one college-educated Cliff Tarlington.

At this time, of pre-Internet America, neighbors on occasion would try to associate and interact with one another. This tribal ritual was based on the three B's, boredom, booze and a broken TV set. Boredom and curiosity from the blue-collars caused them to run spy missions on any new neighbors. As soon as the Tarlington's moved in there were the neighborhood ladies, who went over on their spy mission to size up the new neighbors. The family looked normal, but they did dress better and seemed
much quieter than the blue-collar tribe. However, there was something very odd about the head of household. Months went by and we never saw Cliff talk to any of the neighbors, as if we were carriers of some sort of disease.

The Blue-collar tribe does have diseases, normally related to their progeny,which carried flu, cold germs from the constant snot noses that seemed to always be running. There was also a real fear of lice, all working class kids at the time could be hosts. The lice-head kids were then forced into a haircut called the Baldy sour, the marine boot-camp style haircut, which caused them to be a victim of barber who never liked kids, or whose last job was cutting hair in a prison.

I am not sure, but the white-collar tribe could have been rejecting us for are lack of style?
We were an ugly tribe, but the Tarlington's were not in the style of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, so were puzzled by Cliff's ultimate diss. To be fair to the white-collar tribe, Mrs. Tarlington did enjoy talking to the neighbor ladies, but her husband pretended we didn't exist.Most of the blue-collar men, including my old man, tried in vain to interact with Cliff Tarlington, by offering him a beer, or try to talk to him about sports or cars. This did not work, as he stared back at them, as if we were silverfish or cockroaches and reply: “I am very busy and don't have time to waste on idle chit chat, as I am working on my second Masters degree.”


Most of the neighbor's then gave up on Cliff, but we still watched him, as if he was a different species. We concluded was that his second Masters degree was affecting his social skills on a grand level. My Father noticed that Cliff didn’t seem to want to be associated with his wife, child or dog either.The old man now pronounced his analysis of the problems with Cliff:
“CLIFF IS ONE STRANGE DUCK, WHO IS GOING TO EXPLODE SOMEDAY!
MY ADVISE IS STAY AWAY FROM THAT EDUCATED WEIRDO.”
Dad's advice caused me to watch and study Cliff, as I was curious about evil. I had seen evil early on in my life, as when at five years old; I actually met a future killer of America and future member of the Death Row dating club. You see, I witnessed Billy _____ killing bunnies for kicks. This should have been covered in kindergarten, but we were too busy ducking covering under
our desks from the Russian's and their atomic bomb. We only had a cursory advice to watch out for stranger danger. We at the time had no crime shows like CSI or FBI Profile shows, but I sensed and watched out for the stranger dangers that walked among us. So I started my profile of one Cliff Tarlington. I gathered up my notebook and wrote down Cliff appearance and actions.

I started writing down what made Cliff Tarlington, the professor so different. Mr. Tarlington had these reptilian angry slits for eyes, that gave him a constant deranged look and kept the neighbors at bay. Cliff wore a sports coat with patches and those thick glasses. He wore dress shoes not work boots. The professor stuck out like a sore thumb among the factory workers, truck drivers,milkman and the auto mechanic that inhabited our block. Even though Cliff was dressed like that Ozzie guy on TV, he was not a cheerful, polite neighbor. Image may be everything, but actions speak louder.
To put it mildly the professor was as loud and nutty as a howler monkey, as his screaming at his wife and kid could be heard six houses down through the brick walls of our Cape cod style houses. This was shocking and didn’t fit into the image of the 1960’s happy family that was shown on the current TV shows of the day.


They were not the TV version Ozzie and Harriet.
Cliff was not a placid, kind gentlemen with knowledge, but a pure wack job who shown a light on the myth of the higher educated being well-mannered and well-behaved. What Cliff did next scared the crap out of me and let me see the dark side of people no matter what their social status.

It was a sunny beautiful summer afternoon, when we heard one Professor Cliff Tarlington screaming from the Tarlington’s driveway. At first, we thought he was going after his kid for not putting his toys away, a normal occurrence. However, we all went outside and saw him drag the family dog down the driveway by its collar. Tarlington’s dog was a mild mannered and well behaved Collie, like Lassie. The entire neighborhood stopped like statures and stared at the Professor, as he was flinging the dog down the driveway by the collar with incredible force and carrying a slender object in his hand. All the neighbors stopped talking and watering their lawns even the birds seem to fall silent that afternoon.
Cliff the professor was screaming, “I am going to teach you a lesson, for peeing on the rug”.
The poor collie was crouched in fear and submission, and we all stood mutely on our driveways, not knowing what was going to happen next. Granny and our noisy CIA style neighbor Mrs. Hazelton whisper “what’s he got in his hand?”

“I hope he stops screaming, ” my Mother whispered to Rose Stulz our next-door neighbor. All, the neighbors had gathered around to see what all the shouting was about. (There was no internet so people actually went outside) Now, with all the neighbors mouths were hung open in shock. The esteemed Professor kept on slinging the dog down the driveway like a big furry Frisbee.
Cliff didn’t even see the crowd he was attracting, or maybe he didn’t care he had an audience. “ Oh my god he has a bull whip!” I shouted to the crowd of adults.

“It can’t be?,” the adults always seem to doubt what a kid says, even if they are totally correct. It was a whip!

Cliff unfurled the Bullwhip and I recognized this man was pure evil. This type of sadistic instrument was shown quite often in the 1960’s cowboy TV shows that featured a villain with a whip. Unfurling the whip the poor dog should have just run away, but he was obedient to a fault. The crazy professor with his 1950’s style buzz cut, thick horn rimmed black nerd glasses, blazer, tie and dress pants did not match the scene that followed.
Cliff started building up by cracking the whip and getting his rhythm and muscles set.
Mom spoke in a hushed tone with a cry in her voice, “I hope he is just scaring the dog with sound of the whip?” This was,however, was not the case.
Cliff starting whipping the collie on the flank with bullwhip. “Hmm, ummm,” whimpered the dog.


Everyone was mute and staring out like someone who was frozen with confusion that this couldn’t actually be occurring from a man of letters. The neighbors had gathered around, and some could be heard mumbling: “Oh my god, why won’t he stop?”
After about 15 minutes of unrelenting animal abuse, Mrs. Tarlington was seen peering from the picture window like a timid frumpy door mouse of a lady, if a door mouse wore house dresses. We all knew that she couldn’t stand up to Cliff, as Ruth Tarlington was a sweet kind woman to her son and talked like a Kindergarten teacher to everyone, including adults, which was sort of creepy.

She had never informed the neighbors at any of the normally female gatherings like Church socials or bake sales of her husband’s temper or insanity. Ruth Tarlington finally came out of the house and begged her husband to stop whipping the dog.
Cliff pushed aside his wife, and his wife cringed and crunched her body over in fear. Thankfully, Cliff being an intellectual prone to sitting or at most standing at a podium was out of shape and stopped whipping the dog due to pure exhaustion, as sweat was pouring off his fancy beige dress pants and soaking through his Navy Blazer.


None of the neighbors had stopped this, but the crowd was in such shock that our collective guilt should be tempered with the unbelievable actions of the professor. Like a herd of cows walking back to their barn, the neighbors all placidly all just walked into are houses shaking our heads and hoping this man would leave the neighborhood. Thankfully our prayers were answered, as in two months time the Tarlington’s will move to Madison Wisconsin, where Cliff was now an esteemed Professor in Romantic Literature.
You know the stuff Keats, Byron,,, Oh HEATHCLIFF your such a stud.

AFTER THE Tarlington'S MOVED THE DISEASE STARTED, EVERY CHRISTMAS WE
WOULD GET THE CHRISTMAS BRAG LETTER FROM THE Tarlington FAMILY.
(We also found out we weren't special, since Mrs. Tarlington sent the same letter to the whole block.)
Like a Swiss cuckoo clock ,we started to receive the Tarlington brag letter every Christmas. I see the old man getting the mail and seeing the first brag letter Christmas card. The old man's first reaction was:
“WHAT THE HELL? WHO THE HELL ARE THE Tarlingtons?”


My Mother's response was always nice, kind and generous of spirit.
“They lived in the brown house, and Mrs. Tarlington was that sweet lady, with the son with allergy's and the collie dog.”
The old man pauses and sips his beer mediating on past neighbors then saying:
“DO YOU MEAN WE GOT A LETTER FROM THAT CRAZY SON OF BITCH THAT BEAT HIS DOG?” My Mother shook her head about my Father's honesty and foul language.

“Fred ,(my old man's name) Mrs. Tarlington was nice lady, maybe Mr. Tarlington changed.”
My old man, now made the sign of the cock-coo with his hands. “Ok, let's read the damn letter.” The old man opened up the letter, and it was ten pages long, written in very neat handwriting. “HOLY SHIT, Mrs. Tarlington letter is as long as Moby Dick.”

The old man was stunned about all the little details of the letter. Then he discovered the ability to make fun of the pompous nature of the author. The old man then started making up crap to make the letter more interesting.
“ My son, just built a submarine in the basement for his science fair, he would have won the first prize, but we couldn't get the submarine out of the basement.”

“My husband Cliff Tarlington, discovered the most boring poem in Greek History and translated to Yiddish, and he is up for a Pulitzer.” The old man most likely didn't realize that every Christmas he would get to be creative with another damn brag letter.

The old man as a member of the Blue-collar tribe never realized this trend would go on till the advent of the internet, which would then kill the written word. Most Blue-collars used the telephone. Sometimes the Blue Collar tribe would write postcard to rub it in that they made to the Wisconsin Dells.


My old man would have never thought of sitting down and writing a letter to relatives, since if you actually work for a living, you just want to have a beer and watch the boob tube. This would be considered mediation or non-exercise yoga for the Blue collar tribe, since it was done mainly in a recliner and had the yoga like arm exercises of raising and lowering a beer can until you reached a state of bliss. There is not much to a blue-collar letter which states, “I worked tons of overtime. I am tired and hungry, and my boss is getting rich.” The blue-collar tribe prefers the intimate contact of the late night drunken phone calls.
Once the Brag letter started coming every year everybody on the block was upset and jealous that they had not written a brag letter, or they became sick of the whole thing and just tore up the letter without reading it.

As a Holiday greeting, the brag letter is as wanted as old stale leftover fruit cake and both are holiday traditions that are both indigestible. However, oddly, my Father actually enjoyed the Brag letter as a means of entertainment. It became a big holiday joke to get the brag letter, and everyone gathered around while the old man put on his show.

We would all gather around for the comedy skit, as the old man would hold the letter gingerly and then proceed to read the letter in a fake British haughty accent. There started to be a trend starting with more brag letters being written. We started having a few more college grads moving into our block, but our houses were considered small starter homes, and the college crowd decided they had to get the hell out of neighborhood, as soon as their promotions came in. Even though this crowd hardly spoke to us, they too started sending the Christmas Brag letter, usually with photos of them in their new giant house.

The pattern was apparent: All brag letters origins come from College graduates, those who had left the neighborhood for better and brighter futures, bigger houses, Buicks etc... . Their letters were the ultimate diss. A written raspberry to insult your tiny working class brain. Like rubbing salt into a wound it was used to inflict pain to your psychic well being. It was a yearly reminder to the working class scum how superior those college- educated ex-neighbors were. Most neighbors now had forgotten the Tarlington's, as neighbors moved more quickly out than ever before.

 However, my Mother was a worry wart about ex-neighbors and current neighbors. It was my Mother, who mentioned that she was worried about Mrs. Tarlington since the incident with animal abuse was thing you could never really forget. Most people on our block just forgot the Tarlingtons and some were relieved to say the least when the Tarlington’s moved. But, still the Tarlington Christmas letter kept coming. It was such a wonderful marketing ploy that they were so successful and happy. However, in the back my families minds we were concerned and worried that Cliff would go off the deep end with his bullwhip and volcanic like temper.

It is the fate of all brag letter’s to end badly, and that has to occur when the family can no longer keep up the facade of perfection. Thus, the perpetual brag letter is stopped dead, as if the family had been their ego vaporized or surgical removed by space aliens who destroy their family's ability to brag ever again. The last Tarlington brag letter came in December 1970 and was an incredibly ironic to describe the fitting end to a Professor, who taught Romantic Literature. Mrs. Tarlington started the letter with the normal brag letter format that her son was getting straight A’s and she had joined a genealogy club tracing their roots back to the Mayflower. We were all about pass out from boredom, as the old man droned on in his haughty British accent. Then he stopped and laughed.

“HOLY CRAP!” “Listen to this!”

The old man returned to his normal voice and began reading the letter in earnest.

“ It is been very hard on me lately since Cliff has decided to leave his family, FOR ONE OF HIS
TWENTY YEAR OLD STUDENTS, A UNDERGRADUTATE NAMED CANDY. “OPS!”


Every Christmas we waited, but the Tarlington brag letters were now extinct. Hopefully,Mrs. Tarlington found someone nicer than Cliff, the professor and her son and collie are no longer suffering the shell shocked life’s, they must have led.
It has been a long time between brag letters, but for some unexplained reason, I always end up some sort Internet cosmic joke mailing list that includes Russian Supermodels who need husbands, and weight lost magical potions, jobs that make you millions from the privacy of your home in your pajamas.


I was thinking that the brag letter was about as dead as the Dodo bird since letter writing is a lost art. Magically, I still get some snail mail that always includes a brag letter, even though I have never sent anyone a Christmas card since 1976.

Well, there it is the Christmas card brag letter. My family did get one last card from the Tarlington family, and it was from Cliff and his new wife: My old man laughed his ass off when he saw it, while my Mother shook her head in disgust. The old man kept the card and passed it down to me as a reminder of the ultimate Christmas Brag letter. I kept Cliff's Tarlington and new wife's Christmas card. That Christmas was unique to say the least. This is the Christmas card from many moon's ago.

HERE IT IS. Cliff's new wife sure made a good looking elf.

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