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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Friends.

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I should’ve guessed that too since John’s been in the hospital for the past several weeks and is one of your oldest friends.

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Not sure “oldest” is the kindest way to define it, but he and his wife have been my closest friends for over 35 years. To the point that John calls me his “second wife,” although he’s only been legally married once.

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That’s funny, but on my recent fall foliage trip, I realized it was so much more than chasing leaves as I experienced the joy and appreciation of visiting a dear friend and her family. And while phone calls, texting, and even FaceTime are great, it’s just not the same as spending time together.

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I was going to mention that when you first told me you were going to see Sawyer in Nashville and also spend some time at Amy’s in east Tennessee, but figured you already knew that friendships can easily be taken for granted … until something makes you fully appreciate them.

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That’s so true. Although I prefer to have a small group of friends, and most of mine I’ve known for decades – either from elementary school, college, or my years living in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, though, none of them now live near me.

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Friends do not require living in the same town, although that is usually how friendships begin. And, while we may not stay in touch as frequently as we want, over time, we see who our true friends are … they are the ones who are always there for us, during good times and bad. And, in my case, are brave enough to point out when they do not agree with me.

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Very brave. My friends have it easier, but I count on them to give me an honest perspective no matter what, although I prefer when they agree with me.

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Of course, you do. And, your friends should be thankful you are so easygoing.

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Well, at the risk of sounding corny, with Thanksgiving just days away, it’s the perfect time to be truly thankful for our dear friends.

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It reminds me of the photo that Natasha sent us last year when she was celebrating “Friendsgiving” with her friends in England.


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Besides not realizing it was an actual thing and not Natasha combining the words “friends” and “Thanksgiving,” I was expecting photos of her attempt at making sweet potatoes or other traditional Thanksgiving foods, or maybe a bunch of Brits sitting around the table with the lone American. Not a photo of everyone’s shoes in the entry hallway.


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I never thought of Thanksgiving as being “all about the shoes”, but that image sums up the true meaning of the holiday.


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Tell the truth; everything’s always all about the shoes for you. But, given this Thanksgiving will be the first without Mom, the image’s a wonderful reminder of the importance of friends who’ve been there for me this year. And I include you as both family and friend.


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Once is enough for me. And, as the saying goes, you cannot choose your family but (like shoes) you can choose your friends. So, pick carefully, and then appreciate them.
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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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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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Well, it’s been a week since Election Day, and although it was only the mid-terms, I felt like in the weeks running up to it, it received almost as much media coverage and attention as a presidential election.


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That is because so much was on the line. The “hype” was that there would be a “red wave” and the Republicans would dominate. And, easily take control of Congress. It never happened.


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It certainly proved not to count your chickens before they hatch, that it’s not over until the fat lady sings, oh, I could go on and on.


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You can stop with the idioms, especially since I am not sure the “fat lady” one is PC (politically correct). But, the results show that voters were much more levelheaded than the media gave them credit for being.
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