RE: HOLIDAY SULLENNESS, INGRATITUDE
To whom it may concern,
As the primary executive of this family, it is my duty to keep abreast of the morale of its constituents (my wife and son). Therefore, the attitude of sullenness and subtle ingratitude immediately following the Christmas holiday did not escape my attention. I am not upset by your attitudes; your emotions are your own, and you are free to exercise them as you wish. However, as a conscientious father and husband, I must strive to address any lingering family concerns to assure a more satisfactory and cheerful Christmas next year.
Based on certain snide remarks and overheard comments, I conclude that some dissatisfaction stemmed from my choice of gifts, and perhaps my reaction to the gifts I received. First, I would like to make clear that my gifts were given with all due warmth and affection. Second, though my reactions to your gifts may have been sober and restrained, I appreciate that you gave them to me with the intent to satisfy me.
To clear up any remaining dissatisfaction with my execution of the Christmas holiday, allow me to compile all available data and provide an objective assessment of all gifts given/received.
JULIA H. LANGER, WIFE
Given to you by me, Terry Langer, husband: One gift certificate to J Crew apparel store in the amount of $243.56, for the express purpose of buying the Classic Cashmere Cable-Knit Sweater in the "heather beet" color option, an item which I knew you specifically desired.
The certificate was in the exact amount to cover the price of said item, plus tax. Some concern was expressed that I could have simply purchased the sweater myself and given it to you; this would have, contrary to your opinion on the matter, not been a thoughtful gesture. I have been married to you for twenty-two years, and I am well aware that your desires are fickle and subject to change. For all you know, you could have stopped wanting the sweater the second you had it, and instead lusted after some other item of clothing. This certificate allows you to buy the sweater, or, if your whim should change at the last minute, buy another sweater instead.
Thoughtfulness of gift.....................93/100 - EXTREMELY THOUGHTFUL
Given to me by you, Julia Langer, wife: Professionally printed and collated album of significant moments in our life together, including photos of our wedding, photos of our children at various stages of growth, photos of our extended family at various functions, etc.
I appreciate the sentiment of this gift, but the practicality is lacking. I already have access to these photos; most are scanned and stored in "the cloud," meaning that they cannot be destroyed by fire or other disasters, unlike this album. I thanked you adequately upon receipt of this gift.
Thoughtfulness of gift.....................63/100 - MODERATELY THOUGHTFUL
THERE IS A 30-POINT SHORTFALL IN THOUGHTFULNESS BETWEEN THESE GIFTS
CLAUDE P. LANGER, SON
Given to you by me, Terry Langer, father: King Crimson - In The Court of the Crimson King Deluxe Six-CD Boxed Set, Limited Edition. Includes a new stereo remaster, the controversial 2004 remaster, two different mixes in 5.1 theater sound and a vinyl transfer of the original mix.
Though I know you have no particular fondness for the music of King Crimson, this gift is a corrective "tough love" measure to combat a known character fault. I have often observed you listening to lesser rock and roll artists, such as The Foo Fighters; I can only assume your poor aesthetic sensibilities are my fault, since I have clearly not exposed you to enough King Crimson (a superior progressive rock combo). I hope that this gift will make up for my own failings.
Thoughtfulness of gift.......................88/100 - VERY THOUGHTFUL
Given to me by you, Claude Langer, son: Van Heusen Men's South Beach Stripe Necktie, Eggplant Purple.
Clearly your observational skills are developed enough to apprehend that I am seldom seen without a necktie. However, perhaps you are laboring under the weight of undiagnosed colorblindness, as you have somehow failed to observe that I am never seen wearing purple neckties. Flamboyance of that nature has no place in a work environment nor in the home of a married man. I stand by my decision to verbally reprimand you for this gift; my frank and straightforward dealings are an asset both to the Shaggy Butte municipal government and to this family.
Furthermore, the estimated retail value of this item is $13.99. As I am in charge of your personal finances, I have a very detailed account of your income and expenditures, and I have concluded that you could easily have afforded a more gracious gift, or perhaps multiple gifts. It may be the case that you bought more gifts for me, but forgot to give them to me; I will gladly adjust the score below should any further gifts be presented.
Thoughtfulness of gift......................24/100 - INADEQUATELY THOUGHTFUL
THERE IS A 64-POINT SHORTFALL IN THOUGHTFULNESS BETWEEN THESE GIFTS
BARXAMILLIAN LANGER, DOG
Given to you by me, Terry Langer, master: A Saratoga Suede dog collar, brown, purchased from local "FIN N FEATHER" boutique pet store.
You accepted this gift graciously by licking my hands as I attempted to put it around your neck. However, I know that you have no concept of ownership and no desire for material things, so you could not have understood the ritual of gift-giving in any meaningful way. It pleases me to see you in a fresh collar, though I know that you would perhaps prefer not to wear a collar at all. Therefore, the thoughtfulness of this gift should be considered neutral.
Thoughtfulness of gift...........................50/100 - NEUTRAL THOUGHTFULNESS
Given to me by you, Barxamillian Langer, dog: Unconditional affection; gratitude for all I provide, even if you have no concept of the value of my gifts; joy and companionship.
You are unable to give me material gifts, so you give only the things a dog can give: beautiful friendship. If you had the means to purchase gifts for me, I am confident that you would do so in a very thoughtful manner. Thank you, dog.
Thoughtfulness of gift...........................100/100 - PERFECT AND UNRIVALED THOUGHTFULNESS
THERE IS A 50-POINT SURPLUS OF THOUGHTFULNESS BETWEEN THESE GIFTS
It is my sincere hope that this honest accounting of our Christmas transactions will lead to a better understanding of how to create a constructive holiday dynamic: we should all take a lesson from Barxamillian, who gave the greatest gifts of all, and from me, who gave the second greatest gifts. I am confident that all sulking, resentment, bedroom coldness and breakfast table tension will be done away with immediately. These things, it can plainly be seen in the evidence above, are unwarranted and even irrational.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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