Celebrate With … Candles & Boxes?!
After Christmas & Chanukah … there’s still Boxing Day & Kwanzaa
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Every year, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day are on December 26 (this year, it’s also the last day of Chanukah), which got Red thinking about how she has no clue what Kwanzaa’s all about, while Black was thinking the same thing … except about Boxing Day.
Red only recently became aware of Kwanzaa from, of all places, seeing Kwanzaa cards in her local Hallmark store. Many of them had candles on them, which made her think of Chanukah, where the lighting of the menorah for eight nights is not only a beautiful “ceremony” (who doesn’t love the flickering of candles and the beauty and “warmth” it brings to a room), but a reminder of the miracle of the oil that was supposed to last one day but lasted for eight. Then Black pointed out,
Unlike Christmas and Chanukah, religious holidays that go back centuries, Kwanzaa is a modern (created in 1966) cultural holiday. A seven-day celebration of Black people to honor their family, community, and culture, it includes the lighting of candles (one each night), with each representing one of the seven principles guiding Kwanzaa.
The thought of people celebrating two holidays – one based on their religious beliefs and one based on their heritage, each based on important values and priorities – reminded Red of Boxing Day. (She had been married to a Brit, lived in England for many years, and was fascinated by British history, although she preferred the Tudor era.) She had been told years ago that it started in the days of Queen Victoria, although some say it dates back even further. Regardless of when it began, the “why” of Boxing Day being the day after Christmas is,
As anyone that’s watched Downton Abbey (or any British series or movie that features the upper classes of a century or so ago) will know, while the wealthy enjoy a truly fabulous Christmas, their servants are the ones hard at work making it all happen. So, December 26 is when “the elite” would show their appreciation by giving their servants the day off, and small gifts of food, clothing, or cash.
And the holiday's name? Some say it came from the box the gifts were given in. Although Red also remembers hearing about the tradition of placing alms boxes near church doors requesting donations to help those in need, so maybe that’s where the name came from.
Unfortunately, much like Chanukah and Christmas, Boxing Day has now become about shopping and is one of England’s busiest shopping days. But we’re not going to let Black talk about the big business of the holidays, as there are more important things to think about …
This holiday season, regardless of what holiday (or holidays) you may celebrate, we hope you appreciate the true meaning of the celebration and enjoy the time to be with family and friends.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”
Spring’s supposed to be full of optimism as it represents a new beginning, with longer days, the trees and flowers blooming, the birds chirping, and a general feeling of rejuvenation. So, whose idea was it to rudely interrupt it with Tax Day? And the fact it’s April 18 this year instead of April 15 (when we ran the article below in 2021, we got two extra days) hardly makes it any less, well, … taxing.
This quote is perfect, except that we don't know who said it, "People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women."
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's probably a safe bet (yes, the IRS even has specific rules on how to handle gambling income and losses) that no one looks forward to Tax Day, but it would be easy to make assumptions that how people approach this potentially stressful day would be impacted by how much, or how little, money they make …
Red always assumed that Black, with her M.B.A. in International Finance and highly pragmatic and organized approach to everything, would not only be prepared for Tax Day, but would have filed her IRS paperwork well in advance of April 15. So, imagine her surprise when she found out that Black couldn't remember ever not filing for an extension and couldn't even remember ever preparing her own tax return.
But after Red thought about it, it made sense. If you make more money, your tax return may be more complicated. So, while Red would love to be burdened with filing tax returns on more income, it probably does make her attitude towards Tax Day more of something that needs to be done, but not on the scale of the project that it's for Black. (Plus, Black has to gather all the records for Red & Black, as well as other entities.)
Red knew that the April 15tax filing deadline had been extended to May 17 this year because of the pandemic but was curious about the history of Tax Day. But she didn't expect to find out that U.S. income tax has only been around since the early 1900s (it was first introduced in 1861, but was then on-again, off-again), as she just assumed that it had been around, well, if not forever then for hundreds of years.
But the biggest surprise she found? Now, prepare yourself … that the IRS might actually have a "sense of humor", although the IRS link Black sent her did have this disclaimer,
When it comes to taxes, everyone has an opinion. These quotes reflect the opinions of their authors; their inclusion here is not an official IRS endorsement of the sentiments expressed. [2023 UPDATE: The IRS link no longer works … we guess they lost their sense of humor.]
And if those aren't enough for you, these are also some great – and very famous – Tax Day quotes. While they may not inspire you to get your taxes filed on time, they might, at least, make you smile and know that you're not alone in whatever feelings you have about Tax Day.