Banter Bites

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.

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.