Words & Banter

RED & BLACK ... Stop. Think. Enjoy.

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


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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.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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