I hope you dressed for Thanksgiving. I did. I would show you a picture but none exist that do not include non-consenting guests/family members/teens. Lemme see, brown trousers with Jay Butler Bit Loafers (and no socks, it was over 40, my new personal rule), white OCBD, bow tie (pictured but not my picture), gold Brooks button up vest. I have a gold signet ring I wear on holidays and days when I want to make sure distinctions of thought are drawn, so that got broken out.
I do a great deal of writing about how Ivy values are the foundation of Ivy Style, and about how if you eat the values for dinner you can’t help but dress Ivy for dessert, and two of those values are the practice of thought and respect for good thought. Raise your hand if someone at your table pushed away and said, “I’m gonna need a nap,” followed by someone else saying, “I know, right? Turkey always makes me sleepy,” followed by someone else saying, “It’s the tryptophan that does it.” And everyone is feeling sleepy, so of course everyone concurs, except it isn’t the tryptophan. Tryptophan is in turkey, but according to the Sleep Foundation (they are a .org so they must be telling the truth) tryptophan (1) gets canceled out by everything else you eat (2) is an amino acid that makes you, over time, produce melatonin, which actually will make you sleep, but later, and (3) there are other chemicals in the turkey that compete with the tryptophan. I was thinking about this as the very script I just wrote out was being recited around my table. I was emptying probably the third bottle of Debouf Beaujolais Nouveau into a guest’s glass and surveying the wreckage (about $500 of Trader Joe’s as sitting on this table an hour ago and now… poof) while the reciting and pushing was taking place. It couldn’t be the two plates each of everything that you all ate, it has to be the turkey, right? And I checked myself, always a good reminder to think things THROUGH all the way.
It was a wonderful Thanksgiving by the way. I found the solution. After my toast and my grace (“John’s the writer, he should do the words”) I said this, which I am going to open with every Thanksgiving going forward. “You know, I learned of a study that found that the areas where the most political advertising and political social media exchanges take place are also the areas that have the shortest Thanksgiving dinners.” It’s true, by the way, I heard it on Rogan, which I am not going to listen to anymore except for the UFO stuff. If you want to borrow that for next year, by all means do so. But make sure you do it right up front. Once the tryptophan (Nouveau) kicks in, people loosen.
Today is my daughter Gramercy’s 14th birthday, which made last evening the eve of her birthday. Gramercy was born on her due date, a function of her mother’s rule following. I would have come a little later just to make a point, but Gramercy is compliant by nature. Not a bad quality in a teen. 14 years ago last night her mother came down the stairs and said to me and my sister “I’m going to have this baby.” It was by design that my sister was there, she was invited to be in the room during the birth, and we all rushed to Greenwich Hospital where The Mother was invaded like it as an alien abduction and sent back home. Where she promptly went up stairs, her water broke, and back we went. This time they took her. It was a 24 hour labor, she put of the anesthesia as long as she could but when they gave her the now-or-never ultimatum and told her this was gonna be a long night anyway she went for it. A hour later, I kid you not, she was rubbing the machine that was dosing her and calling it, “My sweet friend.” At about hour 20, the doctor came in and said they were going to C-section if the show didn’t get on the road, at which point The Mother kicked everyone else out and told my sister and me to be silent because she was going to “talk to this kid.” Two hours later the doctor came in with a few nurses and a tray of something and said, “Well we can’t wait anymore,” and lifted the sheet to have a look and went white. “I take that back,” she said. “We are having the baby.” “When?” I asked. “Now,” she said, “as in right now.”
I am a very very poor cleaner of anything. I am a poor organizer of refrigerators, I am abhorrent at volleyball which is weird because I play serviceable point guard, I am a miserable cook, I gain weight in my neck and belly first, but by all accounts I am a decent dad. At least I can say I work at it. Last night I was writing my journal (I read somewhere that most Presidents journal at the end of the day and I always thought that was a cool look, still dressed but tie loosened and sleeves rolled by a desk light handwriting in a journal) about whether my parenting was in line with the Ivy values that I attempt to ascribe, with varying degrees of success, to.
One of those values is hard work, and the respect of hard work. When Gramercy was born and brought home (I brought her home in a Brooks autumn shirt, pictured below)
I went to work later that same day. I was doing corporate turnaround for a residential construction company (crazy high end, like 14,000 square foot homes in Westchester, I could tell you stories) and at the time was working the trades, two weeks each trade just so I had the lay of the land. I was sitting with my electrician in the front of his pickup truck, late fall afternoon when the sky gets that color it never gets otherwise, and I said, “Holy S Pat (his name as Pat), I gotta go home and be a dad.” He gave me the best fathering advice I ever got:
“Forget everything else, the houses and the schools and everything else. The only thing she wants today, and the only thing she will ever really want, is YOU.”
We have had our walks, Gramercy and I. She walked me up and down my driveway and made up stories so that I would keep moving when I was sick just so I would get outside and see the sun. I walked her up and down a beach for two hours when she was at a fork at the road and needed to pick the right path. I will tell you this. Pat, the electrician with a pickup truck bigger than your living room, was right.
We talk about those Ivy values. Quality thought. Respect for hard work. A high sense of ethics. Pat does not have the aesthetic, the eye for classical clothing. But there is an Ivy dad in there for sure.
Anyway, happy birthday G. Here’s your dad’s advice on your 14th birthday: turkeys don’t necessarily make you sleepy so when someone tells you something and everyone else agrees, you think for yourself anyway.