Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving thoughts

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade high above Central Park West. Photo: Paige Peterson.
Friday, November 25, 2016. Mildly cold weather on Thanksgiving. A real Northeastern late November day as Thanksgiving has always seemed to be in my history. Very quiet; New York was very quiet. An occasional car on Fifth Avenue or Park. Very few cars on the road in my part of town, and very few people on the street. It’s the day when people stay in, or go out only to stay in. It’s like the best kind of Sunday when there’s probably not much required of you except to be present (and enjoy it).

I’ve had many kinds of Thanksgivings in my life, with family, with friends, at my house, at restaurant (the late Four Seasons) with David and Helen Gurley Brown. All of these “days” melt into one because it’s the atmosphere of this particular day that is the power over us. We relax, whether we feel like it or not. It’s not sunny (outside) but it’s good. It’s about plenty, in a world where that word does not exist for many people. So it’s about sharing, and giving, and along with that the pleasure of the company you’re keeping. There are no guarantees of course, but the day brings the possibility. Peace.
My last Thanksgiving meal with both David and Helen Gurley Brown in 2009 at the former Four Seasons Restaurant.
I had dinner this year with my friend Joy along with her children and her grandchildren. They all live out of town, so the holiday means many special things including skating in the Park, Broadway theatre and other New York adventures. Plus a hospitable gramma. Joy does everything thoroughly and it is industriously executed so there are no slip-ups. There are excellent hors d’oeuvres also to go with the wines – red/white/rosé – including pigs in a blanket, whitefish salad, and macaroni-and-cheese squares that can bring out the glutton in you. She also sets her lovely table with some novelty items that are very successful with her children’s children who range in age from 20 to 3. The adults get into it too. Also, Joy’s grandchildren, like their grandmother, always have a lot to say so there’s no pregnant pauses in table conversation.
The dining room table set for seven (the other part of the family went to an in-laws for dinner).
My place setting.
The turkey dinner. We had pumpkin pie for dessert.
A view of a section of the Park after dinner, about 4:15 pm.
The night before Thanksgiving has lots of traditions here in New York, especially around the preparation for the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s been around for 92 years. It is more popular than ever, drawing massive crowds all along its route down to Herald Square. Our friend Paige Peterson lives on Central Park West right where the prep for the parade begins along with the blowing up of the “balloons.” She always gives a cocktail party from 6 to 8 (with a light buffet) that night for her friends.
The hostess ready to recieve her guests.
Paige’s parties are great because a lot of people don’t necessarily know each other so everybody talks to everybody, and she has a lot of interesting New Yorkers who have many interests and pursuits. Paige does too. She also takes photos of the party which we run every year on the Diary, And then when the party breaks up about 8:30, everyone moves down to the sidewalks where the action is.  The atmosphere is very neighborhood-y, There’s a holiday feeling in the almost chilly air, especially with a lot of children on the avenue, all bundled up at that hour making it a special night for them unlike any other.
The blowing up of the “balloons” on Thanksgiving eve ...
Meanwhile, cocktail party over, Paige was out on the street taking it all in with her camera in preparation for Thanksgiving Day when she photographs the entire parade as it started on its route down Central Park West (which we will run on Monday’s Diary). There were thousands of people out on the West Side on Central Park West, Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. The local restaurants were jammed. A lot of the side streets were closed to traffic because of the parade.  We had to walk three blocks west to Broadway to get a taxi to take down to 65th Street to cross the Park to the East Side. It was a great night in New York. A great neighborhood night.
Paige on the street taking in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Often clothed by generous friends, over time (birthdays and Christmases) I’ve accumulated a few very nice sweaters, crew and v-neck. I have had two favorites (cashmere) for years, fifteen or more -- one light grey and one navy, v-necks. Alas, at my advanced age, I still wear out the things I like. And at the elbow like a kid, as well as occasional stopovers from a visiting moth. And my most favorite (the navy) is just about ready to split an elbow. I was lamenting over this the other day because first of all, I’m not a shopper/have no desire to go-into-a-store unless I need to. And, as you know, these sweaters are expensive which today means more expensive then ever. This is all very mundane; the kind of stuff that goes through your head and is totally irrelevant and forgettable to anyone else but yourself.

With all that (nothing) in mind, I had dinner the other night at Sette Mezzo with a friend who, when I sat down, slipped me a very early Christmas present under the table. I couldn’t see it obviously (it was bagged and boxed); Sette Mezzo isn’t a favorable spot space-wise to unwrap Christmas presents. But she had a picture of it on her iPhone to show me, and ... it was a navy cashmere sweater! From my thoughts to God’s ear. Wow. AND, it is a popular version because Prince William was the model in the picture.
Prince William and the little prince wearing their Brora cashmere sweaters.
He was wearing one, and had worn it a lot when he was in Canada with his wife and children, the duchess, the princeling and the princess. And his kid, the little Prince, had one too. Father-and-son outfits. It was very sweet and it made me laugh to see them together. But the sweater is really nice, and it’s got a zipper to turn it into a turtleneck if it should get really cold. They’re from Brora which is from London but has a shop here on 88th Street and Madison Avenue. Cashmere is their story.

Fit for a prince. Anyway, I got home from dinner that night and like a kid, I took the sweater out of the bag and box and tried it on. It’s perfect. What luck! I had dinner with JH and Danielle on Wednesday night, and told them the story. I was wearing the sweater, and so JH took a picture of me in it. I was not aware of this until told, but because Prince William is seen wearing it, it’s become very popular. It comes in three colors and he has them all. I’m more than fine with my one navy.
DPC twinning Prince William wearing his Brora sweater.
Homeless beneath the 110 Freeway in LA, but the man has taste, real taste, and some chic too. No kidding. This piece in the Los Angeles Times says many things to you and will even make you laugh, along with the subject. Joan Didion would completely get this piece. So would Nathanael West were he around today. Its protagonist, Ceola Waddell Jr,. is a highly creative man of a certain age who is “down on his luck” but WAY UP on his spiritual self. LA style.
Ceola Waddell Jr. in his abode under the 110 Freeway. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

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