No bragging letter this year…
At one time or another, we have all received a letter around Christmastime from a relative, a former classmate or neighbor detailing the wonderful exploits of the writer’s family in the past year.
The letters are usually from someone we haven’t seen or heard from in 20 or 30 years, someone whom we wouldn’t recognize if they knocked on our front door. It is written as a form letter and may as well be addressed to “to whom it may concern” owing to the lack of the writer’s personal connection to the recipient during all that time.
No “how are you, hope you’re well, hope you have been in good health, would love to see you,” nothing that says anything about you or your family.
It starts off with glowing reports of the writer’s family members and their outstanding accomplishments; their children’s marvelous achievements—most of whom you have never met- and expressions of their many successes over the years.
I call them “bragging letters,” and they go straight from my hands to the garbage. Where have these people been all these years and what is the purpose of this correspondence? Is it an attempt at self-importance?
Or is it an attempt to remind you of your lackluster everyday life by comparison to their exceptional attainments. Whatever the writer’s purpose, it fails miserably.
I have my own answer to this kind of correspondence. Written as “tongue in cheek” it goes like this:
Dear family member, old classmate or former neighbor,
It was nice hearing from you after all these years–how long has it been–20 years? 30 ?
A lot has happened since I saw you last. Uncle John died. We missed you at the funeral. He left a fortune of 20 million dollars to his heirs. Reading the will was a blast.
Aunt Clara turned 100 years of age last month. It was quite a celebration. The whole town turned out. She missed your card.
Your cousin Fred finally realized his goal of climbing Mt. Everest. You remember Fred. He always was the adventurous one that you thought was a little daft. But he made it to the top and is now being featured in National Geographic.
Uncle George was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the president. He discovered life on Mars and is currently recruiting retirees to settle there.
My family just returned from a trip around the world. We stopped off in several third-world countries where we helped distribute food and medical supplies. It was a very rewarding trip and we plan to do it again next year. Care to go with us?
Your first cousin once removed was just named US ambassador to Uzbekistan. We are very proud of him.
In closing, it was great getting your form letter. Write us again in say 20 or 30 years. But send us a picture first. So we can recognize you.
Sincerely, your relative, old classmate or former neighbor.
Crisp Mashed Potato Cakes
Just the thought of Mama cooking these savory little cakes up in the cast-iron skillet makes my mouth water. It’s doubtful that Mama used panko breadcrumbs, she used cornmeal instead, she used cornmeal..
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups mashed potatoes, chilled
2 tablespoons shredded extra sharp
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 center-cut bacon slice, cooked and
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Preheat oven to 425°.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add green onions to pan, and cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Place mashed potatoes in a medium bowl. Stir in onions, cheese, salt, pepper, and bacon. Divide potato mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place panko in a shallow dish. Dredge patties in panko. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; bake an additional 12 minutes or until golden.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 potato cake)