Did you ever stop to think that hug spelled backward is ugh?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We started to ask how can something as simple yet meaningful as a hug not get universal acceptance, but then realized that was a ridiculous question because Red thinks about hugs very differently than Black.

Besides the fact both of us describe Red as a warm and fuzzy mom, emphasis on the words “warm and fuzzy”, Red strongly believes that hugs are an integral part of who she is. To the point that Black, as well as Red’s kids, think Red should wear a warning label that a big ole’ mom hug could be coming your way.

And Red’s proud of it, and although hugging comes to her naturally, she believes you can learn to be a hugger. Her challenge was the opposite because when COVID struck, she had to learn how to not be a hugger. But she did laugh (and roll her eyes) at Black’s dilemma,

Before the pandemic, I tried to avoid hugging (you already know I find it selfish – in that it is usually the person who needs a hug who insists on hugging), so COVID was the perfect excuse not to hug people. Now when I avoid hugs, people think I am either a germophobe or overly cautious, neither of which is true. Good thing I do not care what people think.

Red decided not to point out to her sister that she knows Black will hug someone if she feels they need it, or at least let them hug her; however, the body language can be amusing. But it wasn’t until Red had children that she learned Black wasn’t an anomaly and that not everyone needs or wants a hug. Still, she questions how she could have given birth to two daughters, with neither having “inherited” the hugging gene.

The funny thing is Black’s willing to acknowledge that, for most people, hugs represent affection, concern, love, appreciation, or even just the joy of seeing someone. Of course, she had to add the science behind the importance of hugs, including how they can relieve stress, amongst other health benefits. And even mentioned a specific study she found fascinating.

So, given that science supports hugging, Red couldn’t understand why Black still resisted hugging, and when she worked up the nerve to ask, Black explained,

We all know what we should do but often ignore what is best for us. When it comes to hugging, I will sometimes compromise and do it for the other person, so I guess you could say my approach to hugs is … it is better to give than to receive.

Which made Red wonder if Black is the one who should come with a warning label.

Thanksgiving dinner may be behind us, but we continue to face increased food prices this holiday season. Some of us can still manage, although it may take some adjustments in eating and shopping habits. But for many, it means “food insecurity” (which is more than just being hungry, it’s a consistent lack of food), with more and more people turning to food banks.

So, if you can, and in the spirit of holiday gift-giving, consider donating to your local food bank. It may end up being the best gift of all because helping others is good for you.(Red knows it makes her feel good and puts her in the holiday spirit, while Black “ignores” the emotional aspects and touts the science behind it.)

Food prices. What goes up must come down. Or not.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, like most of us, has been impacted by rising food prices and shortages, while Black knows that understanding “why” that’s happening doesn’t help you put food on the table.

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Red assets.rebelmouse.io

If you had asked me this when my girls were young, since we celebrated both Chanukah and Christmas, I would’ve said, “Shop for lots of gifts.” Which, I found out the hard way, resulted in lots of credit card debt. The funny thing is, except for my immediate family, I give homemade baked goods to almost everyone else on my list. Black made me realize how important it was to plan and budget for the holidays, and I started buying things throughout the year and/or putting aside money. But, maybe more importantly, it also made me think about the “best” gifts to give my girls.

And I quickly realized it was the gift of time. I couldn’t help but think of the times I’d be busy and only give half my attention to the girls, promising to spend more time with them “later”. And “later” would never happen. So, I created “Day with Mom” gift certificates that were redeemable for a day to do what they wanted (within reason, of course). Surprisingly, actually shockingly, each chose simple things to do, and this special day of spending time together became one of their favorite gifts (and mine, too).

Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I have a very short list. In terms of family, I always give my nieces gifts throughout the year versus feeling forced to find something during the holiday season, although I do give small “token” gifts and send Red rugelach from Zabar’s. (It is efficient as I am already on the website on Cyber Monday buying business gifts.) Of course, for some people I want to “thank” during the holiday season, cash is the best gift.

I recognize I am very fortunate, and charities (like Make-A-Wish) help me keep my life in perspective. I have an annual budget, and as situations arise throughout the year (unfortunately, given the increase in natural disasters, they occur all too frequently), I make charitable donations. But, I also realize that during the holiday season, many people are hungry and turn to food banks, so part of my holiday tradition is donating to the Houston Food Bank (part of Feeding America).

Events in our lives (both personally and in the world around us) may change from year to year, but amidst the joy and festiveness of the holidays, there’s always a certain amount of stress and challenges to get everything done. This year’s no different, and I’m sure Black would suggest (sarcastically, of course) I might want to reread my tried-and-true holiday survival list …

It's official! The holiday "silly season" (as I call it) is now underway and before I know it, it will be New Year's Day and I'll be looking back and asking, "Where did December go?!" This year's holiday goals …

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