Banter Bites

It’s All About Menorahs. And Latkes?

Some spell it “Chanukah” and others “Hannukah” … either way, you don’t have to be Jewish to celebrate hope and miracles (after all, isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?)

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: The lighting of the menorah is the “centerpiece” of the celebration of Chanukah, as it signifies the miracle and meaning of the holiday; for Red, it also represents memories and traditions, which may explain why she displays multiple menorahs, and while Black only has one menorah, there’s more than one reason why it’s displayed in her kitchen.

The burning of the menorah candles represents the one-day supply of oil that miraculously lasted eight days (hence why the holiday lasts eight nights). But Red lights two menorahs for sentimental reasons – one’s the menorah her daughters got from our mother, and the other’s one of her favorites (she got it in England decades ago).

But once the holiday starts, Red can truly enjoy what she considers the best part,

I love the food of Chanukah! It always includes a brisket dinner that I only make a couple of times a year, featuring my favorite side dish, potato latkes (pancakes) which, with applesauce, I could make a meal onto itself. And much like Thanksgiving, the leftovers are even better, which is perfect as we also celebrate the second night.

But Black doesn’t cook, so why would her menorah be in the kitchen? Isn’t it supposed to be displayed somewhere to remind you of the significance of the holiday (it may not be considered a major holiday, but the miracle represents the power of light to overcome darkness)?

The practical reason I have my menorah in the kitchen is the island has a stone countertop, and the menorah is the only thing on it – making it the safest place for burning candles (I do not like the electric ones). But, it also brings back memories of our father grating a counter full of potatoes until his knuckles were almost bare. (If I want latkes, I do it the easy way – I go to Kenny & Ziggy’s.)

Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.

For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There's so much one can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, and whose leadership was fundamental to the ending of legal segregation in many parts of the United States. But regardless of your position on segregation, it's almost impossible not to acknowledge, yet alone appreciate, how incredibly powerful and inspiring his words were and the impact they continue to have on the civil rights movement. But don't believe us. This goodreads post provides more than just a good read, it's a seemingly endless list of inspirational quotes while a great "refresher" course on Dr. King is available at

We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?

National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.

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Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)

A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.

Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,

Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.