Thinking Outside the Box: Holiday Gift Ideas

Filed Under All Posts, Group Posts | 15 Comments

Last year, Fifty is the New contributors and readers submitted unusual ideas for holiday giving. Because they’re wonderful and timeless, lean and green, we’ve republished them, and we invite you to share more of your own.

Prudence Baird

Two incredibly useful gifts for the holidays…these are great as reciprocals, too. You give one to me and I’ll match yours!

Your Girl Friday (or Saturday). On a day that works for both of us, I’ll show up at 9:00 a.m. at your home with your choice of caffeinated or decaf latte. You provide rubber gloves and I’ll provide my discerning judgment, unbiased reasoning and brute strength as we clean out your closets and organize your junk drawer(s). At the end of eight hours, I solemnly swear never to reveal what we did that day or what we found under your bed.

A Make-Up Spree. Make a date to have your friend’s make-up done—for free at the cosmetics counter of a posh department store or boutique vendor. When it’s all over, buy her the lipstick of her choice and surprise her with one of those little retractable brushes that will allow her to get the most out of her new gift when it’s down to the nub. Bring your camera for before-and-after snaps and celebrate afterwards at a hip espresso bar because she looks so fabulous.

Christie Healey

Teaching someone to read is a very special gift, check out Literacy Partners for more information on how to get involved.

Offer to take care of a friend’s pet during vacation because we all worry about our little furry pals and want to know that someone we love and trust is taking care of them when we go away.

Cathy Fischer

Send a subscription to an unusual magazine, one that the receiver would be interested in, but may not know about. I like these uncommon publications: The Week (international weekly news, bite-sized), Cooks Illustrated (for the food chemist, kitchen gadget guru and/or chef of the house) and Modernism (for 20th century design divas). Read more

Sea (See) Change on a Sea Cruise

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Travel | 9 Comments

Roatan, Honduras

Roatan, Honduras

When Melissa Howden embarks on a lesbian cruise, a tropical storm is not the only occurrence that stirs things up.

A couple of years ago I started to learn how to surf. At the time my greatest challenge was learning to read the water.
How many waves in a set?
Which set might have a wave I can possibly catch?
Are they breaking to the right or to the left?

The combination of matter—the water, the board, the bottom and me—had the potential for magic or mayhem. And so it is with so many things in life.

My girlfriend is a fan of the group lesbian get-a-away. The only group I’m a fan of is the small dinner party. Nevertheless, for the last week I have been on a lesbian cruise.

Lesbian cruises are not a new phenom. OLIVIA Travel has been doing them for 20 years. This voyage however is the first for a new company called SWEET: The Future of Lesbian Travel.

A week ago we hauled out of New Orleans in a mad attempt to skirt Hurricane Ida as she hurtled into the Gulf. Some were saying that the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Weather distinctions make no difference to me. A boat in any storm worthy of Weather Channel note is NOT fun. A subtle reading of the water becomes very simple: THOSE ARE BIG FREAKIN’ MY FREAK WAVES BREAKING ON MY ELEVENTH DECK BALCONY! Read more

The Weight of Age

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Politics | 10 Comments

Ted, Bobby and John Kennedy, 1962

Teddy, Bobby and John Kennedy, 1962

Connie Stetson reflects on what shaped her views of democracy and what fuels her hope today.

With the passing of Teddy Kennedy, aside from feeling real grief at his loss, I am feeling, profoundly, the weight of my age. Not my chronological age, I just turned 58, but the age that has shaped my sensibilities, the age I am passing through. As I write this I feel like a trauma survivor, as though I’m watching my life pass before my eyes.

The year of my birth, 1951, Harry S. Truman was president, and then Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected in 1956. The first presidential election I can remember was between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. It was as hotly contested in our family as it was in the nation. My grandparents were staunch Republicans, supporting Nixon, and my mother was a Democrat, mad about Kennedy.

That first televised debate, Sept. 26th, 1960, at nine years old, made me a life-long Democrat. Those impossibly handsome brothers, Jack, Bobby and Teddy, whose passions fueled the passion of a generation, were the real standard bearers of hope and change, the very words I am sick to death of hearing politicians spew now.

It was late November in 1963, I was in my Home Ec. class (which was mandatory for girls then), anticipating the Thanksgiving holiday long weekend, when our school principal announced that Kennedy had been shot in a motorcade in Dallas. Read more


Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Politics, Reinvention | 11 Comments

Poster by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

Poster by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

Carine Fabius is making a dramatic change, a new affiliation that speaks to her head and heart.

That’s it. After being a lifelong Democrat, I am officially changing my party affiliation to Independent.

I like the ring of that word. One of its dictionary definitions is “capable of thinking or acting for oneself.” That’s a pretty accurate description of me. I wish I could be independent of any political party but I wouldn’t be able to vote in primaries; so if affiliation I must have, then I choose to belong to the American Independent Party.

But, Carine, that’s like throwing away your vote! If you’re thinking that, think again. I am not planning on voting Independent for any presidential candidate anytime soon because that would be a waste. For now. A president can only do so much alone, though; that’s how our system is set up. Without the lawmakers, it’s stagnation time. But the only time lawmakers pay attention to constituents is when they fear being kicked out of office. That point was driven home to me while visiting with my pro-Bush father recently when he kept asking me, But why do the people in Obama’s own party keep fighting him? Good question! Read more