The Crush Letter No. 91

. 9 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about friendship, love and sex in midlife.  Because midlife is so much hotter than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

There have been years when tension in my family because of, let's say, a death or a divorce or a serious health issue or a conflict between family members, has made going home for Christmas tough. I have always gone anyway. No matter where I lived (physically or metaphorically) and sometimes with a pulsating throb in my temples, I rolled into my parents driveway no later than 3pm on December 24th.

I believe in showing up for whomever your family is – the one you got or the ones you've made – in good times and bad, whether you need it or not that year – in a ritualistic way. So I go.

But, oh. The Christmas that followed my late husband's death by a couple of months, when I didn't want to try. The much earlier one after a really very bad break-up of a long-term relationship when I didn't want to be subjected to all the questioning. The year my brother's divorce was at a pitched state of conflict and we didn't know whether his four kids would, in fact, be handed over in line with the court's decree. (We set the table and stared at the front door, and then back at my Mother, with equal parts hope and dread. And clenched jaws.) The year a family business venture went bad. Those were some years. And they felt like they came in a continuous stream.

So some years have brought more anxiety than comfort. Yet I adhere to this idea that there is something bigger than me, that foundational relationships deserve and require showing up even when (no doubt especially when) it is with a knotted stomach.

Not this year. For one thing, I have begun to learn to navigate the emotional structure of my family in a healthier way for myself. But also my family members all seem to be in pretty good shape this year. (So far! We still have a couple of weeks!)

Another really big thing is that I am done with the nonsense of comparing my own family's Christmas to my idealized version of holidays for the Waltons, the Addams or even my best friend's and feeling like my family was getting it all wrong. We're all done with that, right? At this stage aren't we all ready to admit that every family has its problems and that in truth, the holiday season is a mixed bag of gratitude and longing and so many other things. It brings such immense relief.

As is our approach to all matters involving what I refer to as "life with others," here at PrimeCrush we're keeping it real. In particular, in this Letter. Welcome to our version of the holidays, beginning with Lisa Ellex's piece And so this is Christmas?.

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter.  +And so this is Christmas? By Lisa Ellex the internal conflict between what is expected of us and how we really, deep down, would like to spend those Hallmark holidays   +Holiday Invites: Say “Yes” to “No. By Lauren D. Weinstein Uh, oh! Here comes ANOTHER wedding invitation +Love/Sex/Moon Magick:  Going Home. By Lynn Eaton It’s okay. You don’t have to. I know that you loved me in this lifetime   +I’m Glad My Mom Died: Jennette McCurdy. Reviewed by Evie Arnaude But the abuse truly is the backdrop of this story   +Our Song of the Week You better duck when I show up

And so this is Christmas?  By Lisa Ellex

One PrimeCush writer urges us all, this holiday season, to choose peace over all else.

On a sunny afternoon just after Labor Day, I entered a well-known home improvement store to have keys made. I barely made it through the huge automatic doors when I was assaulted with Christmas trees, animated snowmen, talking reindeer, creepy elves, three wise men on camels, Santa Claus figures from around the world, and other garish decorations chirping poorly-recorded Christmas tunes and other indecipherable sounds.  School-age children had barely made it through their first week of classes and already moms and dads were being pressured into the commercial spirit of the season.

And so this is Christmas? Yes, once again, the holidays are upon us. This year, Christmas will arrive between her sisters Chanukah (December 18) and Kwanzaa (December 26), only to be followed up with what I consider to be the most forced and dreaded holiday of all – New Year's Eve. For many, December is a difficult month; thirty-one full days of S.A.D., stressing over cooking and shopping, forced meals with politically misinformed family members (my fear of prison is the only thing that prevents me from hitting my cousin’s husband in the temple with a full tray of boiling hot lasagne), partaking in unwanted travel, deeply missing lost loved ones while attempting to spread good cheer, and for those with mental health issues, enduring the dark and lonely daily struggle.

Welcome to The Christmas War: the internal conflict between what is expected of us and how we really, deep down, would like to spend those Hallmark holidays. Some of us might opt to be alone with a significant other, while others prefer to stay in bed with the covers pulled over our heads, emerging only to eat, drink, and watch old movies. Some desire intimate gatherings, while others will have nothing less than full pageantry. And let’s not forget those selfless souls who choose to spend their time volunteering for the needy or spending the day at an animal shelter. For me, they are the true heroes of the holiday battlefield.

Continue reading here

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.”

Later, when I checked my emails, I was alerted to an Evite from a former colleague inviting me to a fundraiser, supporting refugees, to be held at a trendy art gallery in Chelsea.

I used a letter opener (it was more like a machete) to open the thick, padded envelope and clicked the Evite 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, (Okay, obligated at times) 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, I was there if it was an opportunity to meet, greet, connect, or wear my attention-grabbing, Tom Ford, off-the-shoulder, black cocktail dress. As a single person and a freelancer, I thought accepting invitations might be a perfect opportunity to network, expand both my businesses and social circle and as a bonus, possibly make a love connection.

Continue reading here

Love/Sex/Moon Magick:  Going Home.  By Lynn Eaton

Our resident Wiccan pens a beautiful tribute about going home, in this earthly realm—and beyond.

As I sit in the woods of northern Ontario this morning, I am alone with my soul. The whisper of the wind, the chatter of chipmunks, and the call of the loon make me aware of how tenuous our hold on this realm truly is. I have no connection to the world outside – no internet, no cell reception. And yet, I feel how thin the veil of communication between the worlds can be sometimes.

My grandfather and I were close. I loved that man. His favorite line when on the telephone with me was, “Oh my dear, you're lookin’ well.” Decades before Zoom calls, I felt like I could see him. And the day after he died, I did.

I was living thousands of miles away and couldn’t make it home for my final farewell. He came to me in a dream. Normally, I dream in full color. He was in black and white. I held him. “You’re lookin' well. But I’m tired.”

I could feel his love as he told me that he didn’t want to come back again. “I love you, but I just don’t want to do this again.”  

“It’s okay. You don’t have to. I know that you loved me in this lifetime.”

Continue reading here

I’m Glad My Mom Died: Jennette McCurdy.  Reviewed by Evie Arnaude

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you know all about this book already. The title alone sets us up for a brave, unnerving ride through the trials of child star Jennette McCurdy and the mother who pushed her into acting at a young age, subjecting her to years of extreme emotional, physical, and psychological abuse.

If you think you’ve heard it all before—you haven’t. The fact that the title is so arresting at first, and got so much attention, says much more about our society than it does about McCurdy and her story. The taboo of speaking out about matriarchal abuse was still very much alive and well upon the book’s August 2022 release. Even from the first few pages, we understand fully why this book is titled the way it is. We also grow to understand the sad reality of McCurdy defending her mother’s motives and actions, no matter how horrific and damaging.

Jennette McCurdy, best known for her role as Sam on the Nickelodeon show iCarly, started acting at a very young age as a means of bringing money into a troubled and chaotic-at-best household. Her mother really wanted her daughter to do this. With a father that was noticeably physically and emotionally absent (he worked multiple jobs to support the family), Jennette grew up very close with her mother and brothers in a home-schooled, economically-challenged Mormon household in Garden Grove, California. For most of McCurdy’s young life, her mother has survived breast cancer, but by the time McCurdy was 21, her mother’s cancer had returned and she was dying. In her mother’s last days, McCurdy is by her mother’s bedside trying to speak to her mother with kind, moving words that will motivate her out of her coma. When it’s McCurdy’s turn, she reveals to her mother, who’d had her on a calorie restriction, that she’s finally achieved her goal weight of 89 pounds.

And that’s how the book starts.

Continue reading here

Song of the Week

Bloody Mary by Lady Gaga {aka Wednesday’s Dance}

We are jumping on the bandwagon with this one. I am thoroughly enjoying the series Wednesday on Netflix, not least of which has been the scene where Wednesday Addams’ (played by Jenna Ortega) dances at Nevermore Academy’s Rave’N Dance. A perfect reflection of her unrepressed individuality and embrace of the dark & weird, as it has spread virally it has been just as enjoyable to watch all the delightfully weird “Wednesday dancers” she’s inspired.

Listen here

Of all the people who have jumped on Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday viral dance moves, Lady Gaga’s take is a favorite. (It is Lady Gaga’s song in the first place, so this bit of circularity feels right.)  Get your teenage goo goo muck on and go.

Have a good week. "I'll cruise through the city and I'll roam the streets / looking for something that is good to eat ..."

Dish Stanley XO,

You Won't Want to Miss A Thing. Here Are Links to Some Favorites.

+ Love/Sex/Moon Magick: A Series from PrimeCrush’s Resident Wiccan Our resident witch contemplates creating a family wherever you are.

+DEVOUR {things to do, watch, see & have} In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up.  Here are some snacks from the last few months, but to get all of us, subscribe.

+ The Perfect Snowy Saturday. By Jeanne Bosse


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