Ask Red & Black
How do you budget for holiday gift-giving?
December 17, 2020
Design by Sawyer Pennington
|Years ago, Black made me look at what I'd spent the prior few years and whether it resulted in credit card debt that burdened me the next year. (Boy, that was an unpleasant revelation!) It made me realize how important it was to plan ahead for the holidays. Either buying things throughout the year, or putting money aside. I decided to only buy gifts for immediate family (and Black has never wanted gifts, which is a good thing because what do you get someone like her???) and give baked goods to others.|
|Most of my gift-giving is business-related (being single and without children makes it much easier) and I have always used a spreadsheet of what I have sent/spent. I make charitable donations throughout the year, but given the pandemic and unprecedented need for food assistance, I am sending some "extra" to the Houston Food Bank, which is part of Feeding America.|
Ask Red & Black
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Do you have any traditions?
May 26, 2023
Last year Red “ran away” to New York for Memorial Day weekend, but since she was just in New York for Mother’s Day, she’s looking forward to her “usual” three-day week routine (see below). And Black? Some things never change, including how she celebrates holiday weekends …
One of the best things about holiday weekends is having an extra
“weekend” day, especially as most weekends are spent on personal things I can’t
get done during the week, so can be just as exhausting as the week itself. But I always try (but don’t always succeed)
to get some “
me time” by
escaping to my local
, even if it’s more for the popcorn than the movie.
This year, since I have some airfare credits that will expire, I’m going to take advantage of the extra day and visit my oldest friend (from 5 th grade!) who lives in New York. It’s strange being an empty-nester and taking a mini-vacation on my own. It seems like only yesterday, when my girls were much younger, that Black would take us (and her stepdaughters) to the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio, so I know that holiday weekends can provide lifelong memories!
|I love three-day weekends as instead of having two days when I can work uninterrupted, I have three. Some might think I need to get a life, but I have passion projects that bring me joy, so I am doing what makes me happy. And, I have a standing “appointment” at 3 p.m. every Memorial Day to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.|
It is important to remember that Memorial Day weekend is more than just a holiday weekend (and the “unofficial” start to summer). Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. A day to put aside politics and think about patriotism, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
|Growing up, I was aware of the Kentucky Derby because I’d watch golf every weekend with my dad, and there was always talk about it. We’d usually tune in just in time for the race, but we didn’t know much about thoroughbred horse racing, nor really cared to learn. Fast forward a few decades, and my love of movies made me see how dramatic and inspiring horse racing can be.|
In terms of the Kentucky Derby, the movie “Secretariat” captivated me with its truly extraordinary story of a horse that overcame the odds to not only become the first winner of the Triple Crown in 25 years but also to become one (and to many, the) greatest racehorses of all times. But my favorite horse racing movie is “Seabiscuit,” as it’s a story of perseverance and sheer determination that never ceases to amaze me. Seabiscuit never competed in the Kentucky Derby because it’s only open to three-year-olds, and he didn’t start his career until he was five, so I can only wonder how he would’ve done.
|There is much tradition associated with the Kentucky, yet I am always amused by all the “hoopla” around this historic sporting event, to the point where it seems as if the race is just a two-minute interruption from Kentucky Derby parties where people dress up and drink mint juleps. (Who knew a drink could have such a fascinating history?) |
And, people may disagree on the greatest Kentucky Derby winners. But, there is no denying there are many life lessons on display – never stop believing in ourselves (Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, never gave up on him, even when others doubted his potential), the importance of teamwork, working hard, overcoming adversity. However, Rich Strike, the surprise 2022 Kentucky Derby champion, who beat the odds (I have always found the most fascinating part of horse racing to be understanding the odds because it involves math and statistics), is the horse that really got me thinking …
Ask Red & Black
What is World Wish Day?
April 28, 2023
to defer to Black about World Wish Day because she was the one who “introduced”
me to Make-A-Wish. Before that, if you said “make a wish” to me,
I would’ve thought about blowing out candles on a birthday cake – not granting the
wish of a child suffering from a critical illness.
One of the first wishes Black told me about was a little boy who wanted to be “boss of the ice cream man” so he could give away free ice cream to less fortunate kids. Hearing the passion as Black told the story, realizing it was about hope and joy, combined with the wish being about doing for others, was inspiring, heartwarming, and “evidence” of the power of a wish. And not just for the child but for their families, neighbors, community, and even strangers. (I’m so proud that as children, my daughters took it upon themselves to have lemonade stands benefiting our local Make-A-Wish chapter.)
I have been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades and have
always felt it has done more for me than I can ever do for it, as it reminds me
that my problems or frustrations are minuscule in the scheme of things. It is my “reality check” on life. (I recently found out there is science that supports
helping others is good for you, and recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving
Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)
Oh, and to answer your question: World Wish Day is celebrated on April 29 to mark the anniversary of the first wish, which was granted in 1980. But, when Tommy Austin first became buddies with young Chris Grecius, there was no way to know his wish would grow into a worldwide organization.
Every day is the perfect day to celebrate the power of a wish, but in celebration of World Wish Day … consider making a difference by making a donation.