Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I guess you can now relax and enjoy the rest of the year since Thanksgiving and Chanukah are in the rearview mirror.


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Except the holiday season, or “silly season” as I call it, is still very much upon us, and there’s plenty to do, although I’ve gotten the house decorated so at least that’s off my holiday “to do” list.


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It always makes me laugh that a nice Jewish girl dresses her hallway bear in a Santa outfit.


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I’m sorry, but Santas, reindeer, and snowmen aren’t religious. They’re seasonal. It’s fun and festive and makes the house feel warm and cozy.


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Christmas carols are seasonal as well, and you cannot escape them as they seem to be non-stop, which drives me crazy. Although I laugh when I think about their “Jewish connection”.


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What are you talking about?


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The fact that some of the most beloved Christmas carols were written by Jews. Songs like “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and “Silver Bells.” Even “The Christmas Song” was written by a Jew.


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Leave it to you to make that connection. But you’re right. And probably the most famous of them all – “White Christmas” – had music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. I love that song and the movie with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, which is a holiday classic.


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Even “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Baby” were written by Jews. But, since many of the great songwriters were Jewish, it is only logical that they wrote songs for holidays.


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True. Irving Berlin also wrote the music for “Easter Parade,” another one of my favorite movies. He’s one of the great American songwriters, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a song for every holiday. Although they aren’t religious songs.


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He did write “God Bless America.” But, the Christmas carols written by Jews are not religious. They are about the spirit of the holiday and the season. No lyrics about “shopping until you’re dropping” or “buy yourself a merry little Christmas.”


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It was a different time, and well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I wonder what they’d write today, especially given the seemingly endless TV commercials and non-stop emails!


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It may have been a very different time, but the Christmas season has always been the most critical time of year for retailers.


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Please don’t make this a business analysis of the holidays.


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Which is precisely the problem. It has become so commercialized that it has lost its meaning. It is supposed to be about people. And celebration. And traditions.


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Says the woman who doesn’t even like to celebrate Thanksgiving or her birthday.


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I do not like the forced sense of celebration and all the craziness. But, when I was married, and then again when your girls were growing up, I loved watching the excitement of children during the holidays.


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The girls have always loved this time of year, and although Natasha’s now living in England, when Sawyer gets home from college, she’ll be ready to celebrate. And create new holiday memories with her friends.


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We all have holiday memories.


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Even you? I can’t wait to hear this.


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I am sure you have heard this before. I was about five and in the hospital with pneumonia when a gentleman dressed as Santa was delivering gifts. When he came to my bed, I refused the gift telling him I was Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas. Imagine my surprise when he leaned over, pulled his fake white beard away from his face, and whispered in my ear, “It’s ok, so am I.”


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No doubt it was one of the doctors on staff. Leave it to you to find a Jewish Santa.


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Obviously, it is a favorite holiday memory as it has stayed with me all these years. For me, it is the spirit of the holiday. He was doing for others. And, probably allowing some other doctor to be home with his family.


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Careful, you’re beginning to sound warm and fuzzy. Although, that’s what the holidays are about. Memories and traditions.


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They go together like … Christmas and Chinese food.


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I know that connection! Although it’s been years, that YouTube video of Justice Elena Kagan at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing is still one of the funniest things you’ve ever sent me. When she was asked where she was at Christmas and replied, “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant,” I laughed out loud and shook my head in agreement.


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She replied without any hesitation, and it was hilarious and probably true.


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We save that tradition for New Year’s Eve. We place a huge Chinese take-out order, watch some of our favorite movies, and then try to stay awake until midnight.


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We all have our holiday traditions. Except for one year (thanks, COVID), I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with Diana and John for as long as I can remember.


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The holidays are about time with family and friends and being grateful for all you have. And I think we should close out this year by wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2022.


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In the words of Irving Berlin, “Happy Holiday.”

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Rabbitti for iStock

It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


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What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


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You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


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I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


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Yes.


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I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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