The Crush Letter No 136: Canceling Thanksgiving, Skipping Parties & Stylish Women

. 16 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+. Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Some late fall art from the insta feed of CRUSH Reader @hipwaldorf

It’s Party Time! Everybody ready for Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season? This year a nephew and I are taking the holiday off (decided long before learning that Martha Stewart canceled Thanksgiving this year. However that news made me feel oddly validated.). My nephew and I will be chilling together for a week of healthy eating, exercise, epic movies, peace and quiet, leisurely dog walks and catching up on sleep and with each other. It may be that I’m so happy about these quiet plans because I had a very full fall and am eager to nest after traveling, but it also may be that I’m still recovering from last year’s family Thanksgiving, which did not unfold like a Norman Rockefeller painting. I share that story below.

I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you. I have a friend who I get together for dinner with as often as I can, usually to cook in. The feel is warm and relaxed and casual. At some point in our planning for these early, simple Sunday night suppers we started referring to them as “dinner parties.” They are just for the two of us (and our dogs), but by calling them “parties” we elevated the status of these simple suppers to something festive. I mean, a party is a celebration, isn’t it?

I absolutely love that we’ve done that for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is the sense it conveys that there really isn’t anything at all ordinary about spending time with the people you love. Time is finite. Which means precious. Which means there is nothing ordinary about it. And as I wrote in my review of Charles Mackesy’s book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse, “doing nothing with friends is never really doing nothing.” Doing anything with them can feel extraordinary.

Our lives are so stacked with layers upon layers of hassles and responsibilities, and friends and family, that just trying to find a time that aligns for two people can feel like lightening has struck. This week I met up with two globetrotting friends who happened to be in New York on the same day I was, and who had time for lunch at the same time I did and then we snagged a table at Balthazar, all of which together felt like it added up to a minor miracle. We had such fun, and felt so grateful.

It is this big energy of gratefulness (and celebration!) that I want to bring to all my time spent with friends and family during this holiday season.

It’s also the reason for this week’s Song of the Week, Elton John’s Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. It is never included among his top songs in any rankings, but it is one of his sweetest, and one of my favorites. It captures my mood heading into the holidays: “I thank the lord for the people I have found.”

Golden Bachelor (Second Try). We are re-running last week’s piece because we had a broken link to the second half of the story. (Sorry! And thanks for letting us know.) I’m still recovering from Episode Seven. (Gerry, Gerry, Gerry. I don’t get it! But okay.)

And there’s more, of course. More women whose style I love, and the reminder we all sometimes need around this time of year to allow ourselves to turn down invitations, from Lauren Weinstein.


In This Letter. +I’m Not Going Home for Thanksgiving This Year. What Are You Doing? By Dish Stanley "Oh my god, Mom. How is it that you are just telling me this now when I’ve spent the last four days with you?" +Why We’re Tuning In & Who We Love (Or Really, Really Don’t) On The Golden Bachelor. By Dish Stanley For the most part - the very most part - the contestants all strike us as being very real people, with real lives, with joys and bruises, highs and lows we can all identify with. +Women of a Certain Age Whose Style I Admire. By Dish Stanley +Holiday Invites: Say “Yes” to “No”. By Lauren D. Weinstein I used to be on automatic pilot and accepted invitations without much thought or consideration of how it might affect me. +Social Media I Loved This Week +Our Song of the Week I thank the Lord for the people I have found

I’m Not Going Home for Thanksgiving This Year. What Are You Doing? By Dish Stanley

Things are going to be different for Thanksgiving for my family this year, and probably from here on in. I’m working on being okay with that.

Last year my Mother and I spent the three days before Thanksgiving preparing for our family‘s annual gathering at my parents‘ home. A confident and experienced chef, my Mother makes Thanksgiving from recipes that were passed down to her from her adored Father, whose picture (holding a perfectly baked turkey, no less) rests on her kitchen window overlooking the action. I am a decent cook, but in her kitchen I am deferential to her, content as her dutiful sous chef.

My Mother is taciturn, discreet and often infuriatingly unforthcoming by nature, something else her Father passed down to her. Traits that were sometimes painful and difficult for me to understand or accept as her daughter. Growing up I longed for the chatty, easy conversation that I saw between some of my friends and their Mothers. I have come to realize and appreciate, later than I should have, that my Mother‘s reserve is immutably bound up in her loving constancy. Too easy to take for granted if you’ve never lived without it.

I feel closest to my Mother during the holidays, working side-by-side in her kitchen over consecutive days. With her favorite classical music station — 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston — playing in the background, we get into a silent rhythm. Every once in a while there’s even a revelation.

On day three of three in her kitchen last year (in other words, on Thanksgiving) she low-key muttered, “Well, I’m not supposed to tell you but your brother and Alexandra are getting married.” “What?!?! Oh my god, Mom. How is it that you are just telling me this now when I’ve spent the last four days with you?” I blurted.

One reason it was shocking is that my Mother shared it at all. Another was that Alexandra and my brother had broken up “for good” six months earlier after five years of chaotic dating. I had been a supportive older sister to him in the aftermath of the break-up, during which he went through each and every source of conflict and replayed their biggest blow-ups (as one does) so many times I could recite the lines as if they were the lyrics to a Van Morrison song.

“He thinks you might be upset so he wanted to tell you in person. But it’s not clear he‘s going to be able to come over this morning, so I thought it was best if I told you before they show up today for Thanksgiving. Together. Engaged.”

“What?!? I already set the table for 12,” I responded, as if that closed off the possibility of him bringing her, as if adding another place setting would be an absolutely impossible feat.

“Yeah. 12. She is one of the 12.”

“Jesus, Mom. Honestly.”

My Mother’s uncharacteristic indiscretion provided the opportunity for a pithy but critical call between my brother and me that smoothed things out before his arrival with Alexandra hours later. Things got sort of sorted out enough prior to their entrance to allow for genuinely warm greetings all around. And let’s be real, in the real world of families, “sort of sorted out enough” is often as good as it gets. Maturity has given me the wisdom that in family life, a little messy is often the best you can get.

The Thanksgiving meal, however, did not get sorted. I don‘t know whether it was the unexpected news or my Mother’s now occasional forgetfulness (combined with my natural deference to her), but when we put everything into the two ovens we forgot to put any timers on.

Guests arrived. There were hugs and congratulations and an extended hors d’oeuvre period.

Eventually there was also the distinct smell of burning food wafting above our beaujolais nouveau. That smell was our Thanksgiving meal going up in smoke. Burnt. All of it, even my Mother’s scrumptious pumpkin pie.

My sister, thank god, had offered to bring the mashed potatoes, which ended up being our Thanksgiving meal in its entirety. She got the recipe from my Mother and they were perfect and plentiful, mercifully.

One thing, perhaps the only thing, I was feeling particularly grateful for in that moment was that my family has a great sense of humor. “We’re so on trend,” my Father joked, “It was our ozempic Thanksgiving.”

The next morning my Mother came into my bedroom with coffee (just the way I like it, and not too early). “Honey,“ she said, sitting down on the end of my bed “do you think that maybe it‘s time for me to stop hosting these big holiday meals? I mean, I‘m 83.” “Mom,“ I replied “I should have checked that we set the timers. Remember, I did the same thing when I hosted Christmas five years ago? I forgot to set the timers. It’s just that we caught it earlier that year. Anyway, that’s the whole reason I come home in advance of the holidays, to help you with everything. I should have asked about the timers … “

And that’s how it came about that we, my Mother and I, lost Thanksgiving. It got moved this year to my brother and Alexandra’s new home. It is of course a generous and loving act for them to take this family holiday on. My brother is so happy to be hosting something that combines his two families in his home, and I am happy for him. Thanksgiving will no doubt incorporate my Mother’s recipes alongside Alexandra’s family’s Italian traditions and cooking, and I am so good with all that.

But when it comes down to it, Thanksgiving isn‘t really about the meal, is it? My family learned that last year. The meal is the excuse we use to gather our family and friends around our tables.

For me, Thanksgiving had become, most importantly, about the unscripted, lingering time that extended over days spent alongside my Mother in her kitchen. The closeness I feel to her there, which I have not always felt with her throughout my life, but we have blessedly found over the last five years. The rhythmic side-by-side sifting, chopping and mixing that have become a powerful often wordless, yet intimate, language between us.

“I‘m not going home for Thanksgiving this year. I had a busy fall and just returned from a long trip to Europe, so I’m embracing a quiet week with my nephew. What are you doing?” That’s what I’ve been saying to anyone who asks. I don’t think it’s because we are formally passing the baton of Thanksgiving dinner from my Mother’s kitchen to the next generation’s (and an extended family). Or because I’m trying to come to terms with the more difficult realities that that shift signifies for my parents, and by extension, for me. I’m not entirely sure. It feels a little emotionally messy. But for this year, at least, it is sort of sorted out enough for me.

Gerry Turner, the 'Golden Bachelor'. Photo from ABC/BRIAN BOWEN SMITH

{Reshare from last week}

Why We’re Tuning In & Who We Love (Or Really, Really Don’t) On The Golden Bachelor. By Dish Stanley

There are well over 11 million of us worldwide watching The Golden Bachelor, which was the biggest debut in the Bachelor franchise. When I asked a few friends recently if they were tuning in I got this: “O B S E S S E D.” Repeatedly. Then I turned to you, CRUSH Readers, to try to understand why we’re all so gripped.

Perhaps surprisingly, even though he is the center of all the action, Gerry isn’t the reason. That’s pretty clear. “[I]t’s not about Gerry,” said one female CRUSH Reader. “It’s the women. It’s really fun to see these women, who are anywhere from a few years older than us to ten years older, put themselves out there so boldly.” 

Of course some of the reason that we are tuning in to see the women more than the star is that the women is where all the drama resides. The women are the ones competing, Gerry is not. Even though they are (by and large) doing it with grace and class and immense support for each other, competition is inherently compelling. It requires putting your heart on the line, deploying some sort of strategic angling and the risk of loss. Gerry, on the other hand, is sitting in the cat seat and while it’s been mildly interesting (if not moving) to see how he handles his power, decision-making and ultimately, rejection, of so many women, his relative position of power means he is subject to fewer forces that inevitably reveal character and personality.

Mild-mannered Gerry, it turns out, is the perfect “backdrop” against which the women’s boldness and vibrancy stands out. One woman summed him up like this: He’s a nice guy from Indiana. Period.The humble, sensitive gentleman from Indiana is less a bee around whom all the women are buzzing and more like a plain vanilla bird feeder attracting colorful blue jays, cardinals and finches.

Then there’s the fact that everyone seems very authentic, and we truly identify with their very real feelings, as well as their personal histories of love and loss. Unlike other reality shows where all the players seem to be selling something, themselves, a product or both (the latest season of The Real Housewives of New York City being the most blatant example of this), we believe that The Golden Bachelor cast is actually truly looking for love, and deserves to find it. Here’s how one male CRUSH Reader put it:

“People sometimes scoff at the category moniker "reality TV" - not reality they say. True. It's TV. But the moniker came not because the genre claimed to be showing reality, but because it is more or less unscripted. Not professional actors professionally emoting by speaking professionally written lines. Instead, real people showing real emotions. The genre has over time morphed away from that and into a bit of an often highly entertaining if cringeworthy freak show. But The Golden Bachelor seems to have brought back that original idea of reality TV and done so very well. For the most part - the very most part - the contestants all strike us as being very real people, with real lives, with joys and bruises, highs and lows we can all identify with, and they seem to be showing real emotions. It’s compelling, and pleasantly surprising, even gripping in a way I suspect none of us expected.”

And finally, of course, for those of us CRUSH Readers who are single, The Golden Bachelor gives us hope that we too may find love, and encouragement to open up our hearts and minds to the journey.

Here is what you had to say about The Golden Bachelor, CRUSH Readers. I am always thrilled, and no longer surprised, by the depth and range of your insights. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.*

*One thing to note is that these comments came in prior to Episode 6, when Gerry visits the hometowns and families of the remaining three contestants.

How would you describe Gerry?

Sensitive, loving, inclined toward real emotional intimacy. Lonely. Emotionally overwhelmed processing all of the love, attention and feelings he is having, particularly on a quick, forced timeline. Doing his best to be honest and transparent.”

A nice guy from Indiana. Period.

“Nice. Also, perhaps dull. But a committed, good, loving partner.”

Handsome, fit, cheerful, soulful, vulnerable but also masculine.”

Thoughtful, kind, communicative, gentle, handsome enough (although not for me) but good for the show and to show there’s always a possibility of partnership at my age. (I’m 73!)”

“A catch.”

“Looks like he did not foresee the emotional implications of his decision to go on the show? That he didn’t understand that it would be painful to be responsible for inflicting so much rejection. And that he might feel conflicted, develop feelings for more than one woman. Perhaps he has not dated AT ALL since his wife died, which means he has not dated in a really long time, so he had no touchpoint for the many facets of dating, particularly at this stage.”

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Women of a Certain Age Whose Style I Admire. By Dish Stanley

@karima.hunter (A Note On Style), Karima Hunter

Located in Newport Beach CA, Karima has a timeless classic, clean, tailored style. {Thanks to CRUSH Reader MAS for the recommendation!}

@and.bloom, Denise Boomkens

Located in Amsterdam, the author of The Art of Aging Unapologetically has a contagiously vibrant, creative, colorful look.

@venswifestyle, Renia Jaz

Located in Northumberland, UK, Renia Jaz pulls cutting-edge and high fashion pieces off the current shelves and shows us what she does with them: “I’m 58 and this is how I wear this …”

Holiday Invites: Say “Yes” to “No”. By Lauren D. Weinstein

You know that “thing” you didn’t want to go to? One PrimeCrush writer gives you permission to stay happily at home.

While sifting through copious amounts of mail—credit card statements, political ads and Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons—my eyes fell upon an impressive, somewhat weighty, iridescent pearl-colored envelope. As I plucked it out of the pile, I caressed its fabric-like texture. Instantly, it reminded me of an elegant shantung suit that I once wore in the 1980s. My name and address were artfully printed in the finest Darleston font calligraphy. I thought to myself, “Uh, oh! Here comes ANOTHER wedding invitation.”

I employed the use of a letter opener (it was more like a machete) to open the thick, padded envelope to read the following words: “You are cordially invited to attend…” These declarations used to bring a wide grin to my lips. My presence is wanted, I gleefully thought. I genuinely looked forward to accepting ALL invitations that came my way. It didn’t matter if it was to attend family holiday gatherings, fundraisers, graduations, weddings, gender reveals, jewelry, Tupperware or adult-toy parties. No matter what, if it was an opportunity to meet, greet, connect or wear my attention-grabbing Tom Ford, off the shoulder, black cocktail dress, I was there. As a single person and a freelancer, I thought accepting invitations might be a perfect opportunity to network, expand both my business and social circle and as a bonus, possibly make a love connection.

Now, not so much. I think twice before I quickly RSVP.

Continue reading here

Social Media I Loved This Week










Song Of The Week

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John

Live At The Royal Festival Hall, London, UK / 1972

Dish Stanley XO,

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