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Well, it seems I barely got the Thanksgiving decorations put away and I was putting out Chanukah menorahs. Which means the year's almost over. Where did it go?


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You say that every year. But this year, I think everyone wants the year to be over.


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Now there's an understatement! But I still love this time of year. I just wish I could enjoy it more, but I know that the days will just fly by. Chanukah comes mid-month and I'll barely be able to celebrate it before making sure that I'm prepared for Christmas and then New Year.


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That is the holiday tradition, exhaust yourself getting "ready" for the holidays. Then, try your best to actually enjoy the holiday, which will be a challenge unto itself given the pandemic. And then, feel relief, and maybe a little sadness, when it is over.


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You sound like a modern-day Scrooge.


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If that were the case, I would have mentioned the people who go through the holiday season feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or even depressed. Which is probably more this year than usual.


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You're not helping the situation. I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Between parenting, work, and managing the challenges of the coronavirus, the holidays just add more things to my already long to-do list with deadlines that can't slide.


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Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the holiday season was supposed to be about spending quality time with family and friends. A time of fun and joy. Of giving and sharing. Of hope. And, maybe even magical. And, yes, I appreciate that the pandemic will require being creative, but it can still be done.


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What's going on? You're talking about feelings! You're supposed to be the pragmatic one.


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No need to be concerned. Remember, I am the one who can talk about relationships and take emotions out of the picture.


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Which always makes me laugh. You're truly the only person I've ever known who can use bullet points to explain relationships.


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But, do they make sense?


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Yes, but what does that have to do with the holidays?


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Everything. Think about it.


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I hate when you won't just answer my question.


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No, you hate when I make you think. Do you remember the first bullet point?


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Yes. It's about understanding your values and priorities – totally independent of the other person. But the holidays are about giving and sharing. They're about family and friends. Even you said that.


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True. But, first you have to get back to basics and determine what is important to you. Otherwise, you get too wrapped up in all the details and forget the big picture. And, it is all the details which cause the stress and fatigue.


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No kidding. Tell me about it.


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One thing leads to another on your list. Then you start adding things you would like to do if you have the time, which somehow become things you feel you have to do. The next thing you know, you have totally unrealistic expectations. Layer on top the over-commercialization of the holiday season and you now are set up for failure instead of success. And, that does not even address the financial aspects, and associated stress, of the holidays.


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When I said, "Tell me about it," I was agreeing with you -- not really asking you to tell me about it.


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Too late now. You know how literal I can be. Lists aside, can you think of one or two things that you look forward to every holiday season?


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That's easy. The first is I always make a conscious effort to spend more time with the girls. It can be as simple as just watching TV with Sawyer or FaceTiming with Natasha. The second is making a little time for me, which this year will mean being creative since I can't escape to the movies.


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We both know it is not the movie – it is the movie popcorn. Anyway, the answer is "yes." Now, can you think of one or two unimportant things that are on your holiday to-do list just because they have always been on your list?


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Yes. Definitely more than one or two.


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Does your list have any of those "it would be nice if I had spare time" items that you know will not happen?


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Of course, it does. I see what you're doing. You're making me admit that even though I understand and talk about focusing on what's really important, I sometimes forget to stop and think about it.


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I was not asking for an admission of guilt, I was merely helping you remember to … Stop. Think. And, most importantly … Enjoy.

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

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

It started when Black sent Red a LinkedIn post about Louis Armstrong, asking her to "connect the dots" (one of Black's favorite things to do). Red knew that he was one of the most distinctive and talented jazz musicians in American history, but it was a complete surprise to learn that he had such a strong connection to a Jewish couple that immigrated from Lithuania and that he wore a Star of David for most of his life to honor them. That alone made it a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. The fact it's also a touching story about kindness and love makes this, at least for Red, even better than fiction.

Black, who prefers the pragmatic aspects of Armstrong's unusual journey – from being an impoverished black boy to an extraordinary career as a musician, singer, and composer – and sees it as a story of overcoming barriers, realizing your potential, and finding freedom (and she discloses an interesting connection between Armstrong and Independence Day).

Our July column, "RED & BLACK … The Sound Of Freedom," connects all those dots and is about so much more than surprising facts about Louis Armstrong. It's also about the power of music, inspiration, and hope, not to mention a very different way of looking at freedom.

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

Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.

Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.

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


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I still can't get over that LinkedIn post that you sent me about Louis Armstrong. I almost put it on my pile of things to "read later" as I'm not a huge fan of jazz, although I loved him in the movie "High Society" with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.


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I figured the subject line, "Connect these dots … Louis Armstrong," would pique your interest.


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Well, it did. Although when I first started reading it, I couldn't figure out what a Jewish family who immigrated from Lithuania had to do with one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.
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