Surviving Thanksgiving

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader is taking a break for the next few days to take Turkey with the expanded family. A 28 pound bird made the ultimate sacrifice, and will be accompanied with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, potato salad, mince pie, and a fine Yamhill Chardonnay. I ate an entire pumpkin pie last night just to give my digestive system an early warning that some heavy lifting was on its way.

I am the oldest of seven of the most fractious and divided siblings on the planet, so attending these affairs is always a bit of a challenge. I bet many of my readers are faced with the same dilemma, and they all have my sympathy. Suffice it to say, that we’ll be talking a lot about the only two safe subjects there are, sports and the weather.

I will learn that my brother who runs a trading desk at Goldman Sachs has put his new Bentley Turbo R into storage. It seems some Occupy Wall Street types have been keying it whenever he parks on the street. There is talk that the firm will go private again to dodge all of the onerous regulation of Dodd-Frank and the Volker rule.

My born again Christian sister is freshly invigorated by the Tea Party wins last year, and is hoping that Michelle Bachman will grab the White House in 2012. I am banned from mentioning President Obama’s name in her house, or I face having to wash the roasting pan by hand. Mitt Romney is also a “no go”, who she regards as a cult leader.

My gay rights activist sister will be assertively arguing the case for same sex marriage and celebrating the victory in New York. For me, that means conference facilities for my strategy lunches and seminars have suddenly become abundantly available in San Francisco, now that the gay wedding business has decamped for the Big Apple.

A third sister married to a very pleasant fellow in Big Oil will be making the long trip from Borneo, where he is involved in offshore exploration. No doubt I will get a big serving of “peak oil” theory with my salad, along with arguments on why we should deregulate our way to more offshore energy supplies here. Hopefully, the local headhunters haven’t taken a trophy yet.

Sister no. 4, who is making a killing in commodities in Australia, and is up to her eyeballs in iron ore, will grace us with a rare visit. She has been investing her profits in serial real estate holdings. Every year I tell her to dump everything because a crash is coming, and every year I am proven wrong. But past experience has taught me that the relatives who insist that real estate can never go down eventually end up moving into my basement.

My poor youngest sister, no. 5, took it on the nose in the subprime derivatives market, and is holding on for a comeback. She is the only member of the family I was not able to convince to sell her house in 2005 to duck the coming real estate collapse because she thought the nirvana would last forever. At least that is what her broker told her.

My two Arabic speaking nephews in Army Intelligence will again delight in telling me that they can’t talk about their work or they’d have to kill me. They are awaiting orders for forward deployment. I tell them not to forget to cash out after four years, because their language skills will be worth a fortune in the private sector.

Another nephew will be back from his third tour in Iraq with the First Marine Division without a scratch, God willing. I will tell him not to “re-up” this time around, as there is no future in his business.

My oldest son works for one of the major Wall Street commercial banks. He is bringing a suitcase full of books so he can cram for the series 7 and series 66 exams. Hey dad, what kind of bonds can a Farmers Credit Union issue? Are those triple exempt? How do I calculate the net after tax yield to maturity?

We will all be thankful that my youngest son wasn’t arrested in the latest round of Occupy Wall Street arrests in Manhattan. Until economic growth picks up and Wall Street starts hiring again, he will remain stranded on the fringe, along with half of his recent graduating class.

My oldest daughter’s response to these hard times has been to get a second master’s degree, this time in education. But with the cash starved West coast states continuing to slash budgets, she can only hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Reading the riot act to this unruly crowd will be my spritely, but hardnosed mother, who gave up taking any crap from us a long time ago. At 83 can still prop herself up on a cane well enough to knock down 14 out of 15 skeet with a shotgun, although we have had to move her down from a 12 gauge to a 410 because the recoil threatened brittle bones. I am looking forward to my annual Scrabble tournament with her, paging my way through old family photo albums between turns.

My next new research pieces will appear in the Tuesday, November 29 letter. That is, if I survive.