A Busted Father Writes to His Kids

Dear Madison, Lexington and Parker,

Your mother and I have always pledged to give you the best of everything, but our new president is, alas making that impossible. We have had to fire Hassan, the chef, let Ahmed, our driver go, and sell the houses in St. Barts and London. I know that still leaves New York, Aspen and Southampton, and finds you all embarrassed in front of your friends. But think of it this way: sacrifice is character-building. Traveling on a commercial jet will prepare you for many things in life -- like packing a picnic lunch and champagne from Petrossian.

Girls -- you may have to marry billionaires -- if indeed there are any billionaires any more. And Parker -- try to get into politics. I feel ashamed that my present truncated salary doesn't allow for the style of living you're used to. But if your mother can stand it -- so can you. She had her heart set on that Louis Seize escritoire -- but she'll have to make do without it. Not to mention the jewelry she's had to sell. The Duchess of Windsor diamonds and the Czarina's tiara. Things are tough all over.

Look at me. I've given up S/Y Wretched Excess and am about to buy a reconditioned vaporetto the Serenissima let go of cheap. I no longer buy my shirts at Charvet nor my bathrobes at Sulka. It's not yet time for Old Navy, but that may come soon.

I am so ashamed of our shrinking lifestyle that I've had fantasies of doing what that French guy did -- but things have to get better. Pull up your socks. Tighten your belts. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Your mother is out in Southampton planning her Victory garden. Good for our waistlines and the environment. Think of it this way, being a recessionista is chic. You may even get a book out it. Not that books pay any more. But maybe a movie?

Thing have to improve eventually.

Your loving father,