Your Holiday Journey

We're a year out from the next presidential election – the president has a full quarter of his term left to serve. But I bet your Thanksgiving sounded like a bad cable news debate. Or worse yet, Thanksgiving with the family. And it's a preview of Christmas to come.

Your Holiday Journey

How is your holiday journey going? Is your chi remaining strong? Are you living in the present moment? Has your daily meditation on the meaning of the season brought you inner peace? Have the warm and smiling faces of all the children around created a joyful, Christmas aura?
Or are you ready to stow away on a flight to St. Somewhere after you flush your smartphone down the toilet, leaving the family behind to microwave their own damn holiday meal?

A delicious holiday meal like mom used to thaw.

We're a year out from the next presidential election – the president has a full quarter of his term left to serve. But I bet your Thanksgiving sounded like a bad cable news debate. Or worse yet, Thanksgiving with the family. And it's a preview of Christmas to come.

Thus it has been, and thus it will be for the foreseeable future. It's not like the holidays have ever been easy. With wild blends of family factions, wealth and education disparities, rural and urban divisions, odd inlaws and outlaws, new and old girl/boyfriends that appear and disappear, and pets that show up and snap and snarl at each other... or in our case, at our guests. And of course, politics. Politics, politics and more politics. And the issues that used to be merely differences, are now fierce political divisions. These divisions are probably as deep at they were in the mid-19th century. We know how that ended.

But most of us endeavor to "come together" for a traditional family meal, whatever that is these days. Even food is a minefield. Go ahead and set a perfectly baked turkey in front of Aunt Claire who has just announced her conversion to veganism. Bring out several home-baked desserts and listen to someone lecture about fat grams, or hear how the Ozempec™ is going for cousin Bill who simply doesn't WANT any pie. (Sad, right?)

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the invitation still goes out to Uncle Bubba, in hopes that a few filters remain, as sheer and fragile as they may be. ("fra-JEEL-ay.") It's not always an uncle, sometimes granny and gramps have gone full tilt Trump on you, or even that second cousin that only shows up after he's been kicked out of his own family celebration.

The Quintessential Texas Christmas (Merry Christmas from the Fam-o-lee, - Robert Earl Keen, Jr.)

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk
At our Christmas party
We were drinkin' champagne punch
And homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him
Til he sang Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad...

Robert Earl Keen, Jr. wrote the finest Texas holiday carol ever recorded. Sure, it references Christmas, but its gringo themes (it is off of his "Gringo Honeymoon" album") are authentic to almost all of the winter holidays. If you have gotten this far in life without hearing it, then, take a moment. We'll wait.

There. Pretty much nails it, right?

but I digest...

That proverbial Uncle Bubba will probably be at your place, sometime during this season if he somehow missed Thanksgiving. He's everyone's nightmare holiday scenario. Redneck, disruptive, boorish, loud, opinionated, often drunk, always MAGA... He's coming, if he hasn't already planted himself in his pickup camper in the driveway. Not quite sure if he's bringing the two young ones from the third wife, or if he's stuck with the moody teen that he's currently raising after his last girlfriend left him, or did she? There will be drama, suspense, and if you can roll with it, a little bit of low-brow comedy.

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins
From his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about AA
Chain smoking while the stereo plays
"Noel, Noel, The First Noel"

In a journalistic coup, one sure to rattle the competition, I was able to land an exclusive interview with that very uncle, and get his thoughts on how Thanksgiving went, and how he plans to play Christmas this year. I caught up with Uncle Bubba right after he got off work and was headed to pick up some kids or a can of Skoal or just check in with his probation officer.

(this interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Chris: Hey Bubba, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Where are you?
Uncle Bubba:
Hey nephew. Only too glad to do it. I'm up around McQueeny near Seguin. You know I live right outside of Sequin, now, and work this area.
(Bubba had been an electrician, he now does a lot of handi-work and light subcontracting. He keeps it on the down-low, he doesn't want to lose those disability payments.) Plenty of work if we can keep the goddam illegals out of our way, taking our jobs. Luckily, we got Governor Abbott workin' on it, ready to deport more of 'em. And then Trump showed up at the border a couple weeks ago! Ready to kick some ass and shoot some Mexkins! What a day that was! That's two of the finest Christian warriors ever to be in our country!
Chris: <sigh> So, Bubba, you still planning to be at Granny's at Christmas? Who's coming with you and what are you bringing?
Uncle Bubba: Well hell, yeah! Wouldn't miss it! Mamma said - well, Granny to you - said I have to be there or it "wouldn't be the same." I like to keep the party going. I think she told me to bring some dinner rolls. I'll get a pack of biscuits from KFC, and maybe get a couple pints of them mashed potatoes that they have. So good.
I'll probably have my stepdaughter with me. Well, she's not really my stepdaughter. It's my girlfriend's stepdaughter. And it's not really my girlfriend, but since she put my damn truck in her name when she loaned me the down payment, I can't exactly leave, now, can I? She's got to work down at the club, so she told me I had to take her daughter to Thanksgiving.
Chris: What club is open on Thanksgiving?
Uncle Bubba: The Honey Trap Gentlemen's Club.
Chris: Sounds like they got your number.
Uncle Bubba: Don't look at me in that tone of voice. I know I said I'd swear off them strippers, but I guess I got somethin' that they like.
Chris: A social security check? A trailer?
Uncle Bubba: That's a "manufactured home," thank you very much.
Chris: What's your girlfriend's name, or ex, or whatever she is.
Uncle Bubba: Well, she's Oriental, so on stage she goes by Jasmine. but her name is Bai. But since most people think she's telling them "bye," we all call her B.
Chris: Oriental? You can't call her that!
Uncle Bubba: That's what I said, we call her "B."
Chris: No, you can't call her... nevermind. So what is your relationship with the stepdaughter like?
Uncle Bubba: Princess Daisy Boo? (That's her given name, by the way.) Oh hell. I dunno. She has her head down into her phone constantly, like all them kids do. Dresses like a zombie. Won't talk. Just mumbles and won't eat nothin' but Ritz crackers and Skittles. This is what happens in public schools today, this is what you libruhls want.
Chris: Whaah? I'm not sure that Joe Biden has Ritz crackers on his national agenda. And Princess Daisy Boo? With a name like that I guess she'll have no trouble finding work with her mom one day.
Uncle Bubba: <sigh> We just call her Boo. Or Daisy. Or Daisy Boo. Or Princess. It don't matter, she won't answer to any of it anyway.
Chris: I want to know how Thanksgiving went. Were you able to remain civil?
Uncle Bubba: Me?? I AM the civil one! I just happen to mention the fact that Bidenomics is wrecking the future of our country and that we need to let Trump, who had his election stolen from him, take his rightful place and save America... and you'dah thought I was tearing down the Statue of Liberty! Lord, you should have seen how the socialists in the family were choking on their Tofu-rkey. I mean, what is it with you people?
Chris: Isn't his rightful place in prison?
<note: the interview went a bit off the rails at this point... there was mention of Hunter Biden and his crimes against humanity, the price of gas, whales shredded by wind turbines, Hamas, the Deep State, the "corrupt" FBI, Nazis in Ukraine, the Kracken, rigged voting machines... etc etc etc. Fill in the blanks with your own holiday experience.>
Chris: So, in other words, a delightful family gathering.
Uncle Bubba: Well, a TYPICAL family gathering. Mama's pumpkin pie was exceptional this year, and when she brought out the Cool Whup, things seemed to settle a bit. I think it was the cryptofan in the turkey that started to put people to sleep.
Chris: You mean the tryptophan?
Uncle Bubba: Uh, whatever. We took the family photo at around 3, except for Granny who'd gotten into the cooking sherry and passed out on the Lazy-Boy™. And Boo had locked herself in the upstairs bathroom.
Chris: You're right. A typical holiday. We'll see you at Christmas, Bubba. Feliz Navidad.
Uncle Bubba: Fleas Nobby Bob to you, too.

Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motor home in
They blew our Christmas lights.
Cousin David knew just what went wrong.
So we all waited out on our front lawn.
He threw the breaker and the lights came on
And we sang "Silent Night, oh Silent Night"

Uncle Bubba will be attending a holiday event near you. Count on it.

Suggestions to keep your holidays merry and bright:

• Substitute music for your usual news podcast or cable news show. Remember music? Once, you lived to hear that new album release by <name your favorite group, here.> You could put <name your favorite album> on repeat and listen to it over and over. Maybe you don't feel it as deeply as you did when you were a teen in love (or after a breakup,) but find your tune again. You'll be a lot happier than hearing one more "Morning Joe" episode or refreshing your podplayer hoping for NPR News Now to update.
• Go mall shopping. Pour a shot of rum in a warm, portable mug of cider and hit the mall. They still exist, and there are humans to interact with and often a food court! Enjoy the people watching, the children having sensory overloads while their parents have emotional breakdowns.
• Call a friend. Don't even text a warning, just call. You'll feel great.
• Go hang some lights up. No, don't call the landscape/decoration service. Hang up some lights.
• Go grab some little ones and take them to do the thing that you liked to do during the holidays when you were young. Of course, they'll protest. Do it anyway. And piss them off more by telling them they have to leave their screens at home. You don't have little ones? Borrow or rent some; this is for you as much as for them. What kind of outing? I dunno. Did you like visiting Santa? Going to see the Nutcracker? Riding around looking at lights while listening to the Chipmunks singing Christmas carols? It's up to you. Let the little phardts protest that they're bored... in twenty or thirty years from now when they're feeding you strained peas for dinner, they'll say, "Do you remember when you took us down to Dickens on the Strand and we snuck off and rode the ferry?" They remembered! Your life had meaning! And you can die in peace. With strained peas all down your chin.
• If you're in a MAGA household for the festivities, especially if it's family... take the TV or video device remote and program OUT Fox News. Use the child lockout feature (every device or TV has something similar) and just delete any offending channels. When some right-wing bullet point is mentioned at dinner and the source is revealed to be Sean Hannity, casually mention that you'd heard a rumor that Fox was being taken off the air, but you just aren't sure. It will be weeks before they figure it out and by then, you'll be back home in Austin. Watching Rachel Maddow.
• Go visit a sick person or someone who is homebound. Don't take chicken soup. Take them tamales. They want tamales, too. Tamales heal. Taking tamales to the sick is very New Testament. "For I was hungry, and you fed me tamales... I was naked, and you gave me tamales. I was sick, and you brought me tamales. I was in prison, and you gave me tamales." -Ninfa 6, 3-5.
• Oh, and tell Uncle Bubba that you're sick and that everyone is on their own for Christmas dinner - you've come down with Covid. And make his day, tell him you weren't vaccinated, you were afraid of the microchip. Remind him that Applebee's is open throughout the holidays.

Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on.
Make Bloody Mary's 'cause we all want one!
Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow,
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites,
A box of tampons and some Salem Lights.
Hallelujah, everybody say, "Cheese"
Merry Christmas from the family...
Feliz Navidad!

Alright gentle readers. It's time to remember the true meaning of Christmas – Amazon! Get your Prime on!

2-Day Shipping. Still a miracle.

Our writing schedule has been a bit choppy as the holidays near and work calendars are rushed to finish 2023 Projects. We're making all efforts to keep your inbox Merry with greetings from the Outlaws.

Guest Outlaw Bill Jeffreys sent me something a few days ago, and I've put it up on the site. As you know, almost all of the Outlaws have some history with Houston TeeVee station KHOU, Channel 11. Not all of us were there at the same time, but we have all worked with each other in some capacity through the station, mostly years ago. Bill Jeffreys was a reporter whose main beat was City Hall. Just a few weeks ago, the station had a reunion of sorts, celebrating being on the air for 70 years... several generations of employees and former employees were there.

The reunion stirred up a memory for Bill... something about periscopes in floodwaters. The image came to him when he ran into his old news director. The one that had turned down his job application.
It's a fun read. "Goldberg."

Goldberg | Texas Outlaw Writers
​“Parking meters look like periscopes,” I said, as the first video appeared. It was a flood story.

And if you missed Roger's piece this week, you should take a look. Orwell's Ministry of Truth is becoming more and more active in Texas. Beyond simple book burnings, the History Police are happy to demand a rewrite of inconvenient truths. A recent YouGov/Economist poll found that twenty percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 agreed with the statement, "the Holocaust is a myth." If Texas conservatives have their way, a majority of young Texans won't find out about slavery in Texas. They're pulling books from shelves at Texas historic site gift shops... the ones that suggest that there were slaves on Texas plantations. These are the same folks who are furious that (real) historians have revealed that the fight for Texas' independence from Mexico had a lot more to do with slavery being illegal under Mexican law than their belief that oppressed Texians were fighting alongside John Wayne to be free from a tyrant named Santa Anna.

That Sound You Hear is Sam Houston Spinning | TX Outlaw Writers
This particular Karen rails against those who contend that the fact that Mexico had outlawed slavery was a large motivator for the revolution. In fact, our Texian forbears used a legal fiction to circumvent the law by having slaves sign a document that they were now “indentured servants.” For life.

Jim Moore also had a fine tribute to Henry Kissinger who died recently at 100. Well, maybe not a "fine tribute." In fact, if you tired of the glowing accolades of Henry the Wacky Accented American Statesman, then be sure to read Jim's piece. It's a laundry list of the governments around the world that Hank blew up. But that accent! The gravitas! The price we're all still paying!

Kissinger’s Greatest Crime | Texas Outlaw Writers
Condolences were made in guarded tones for Kissinger, who passed last week. Jim Moore measures his life by the dead he left behind in the name of (misguided) statesmanship.

Stay strong, people The holidays will be over soon. And then... Election Year!

Chris Newlin worked around Tee-Vee stations before he went out on his own and continued to work in the world of video and multi-media production. Then came iPhones and YouTube accounts, so now he sits around full of self-pity and too many Keystone Lights. He still enjoys sunsets, long walks on the beach, and a good bowel movement, at least every now and then.