Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and we all came together to help then … and we'll all come together to help now.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: While Red finds all the images and stories coming out of Louisiana heartbreaking and made even worse by the fact the state has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, Black knows that Americans will do what they do best … in times of disasters, we stand together to help.
The easiest way to help is often donating to an organization, and no contribution's too small … as they all add up.
But first, Black feels the need to add a few words of wisdom (or are they words of warning?),
There are many legitimate nonprofits (and for-profits) accepting donations to help Hurricane Ida victims which, unfortunately, means there will be scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out. (Two good resources to make sure they are legitimate are GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)
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.
Red doesn’t need the media to tell her about increasing food prices as she sees it every time she looks at the weekly food fliers or goes into a grocery store, but admits she’s been very fortunate as it hasn’t had much impact on what she buys. However, that’s because ever since her financial crisis many years ago, she’s become a much more savvy shopper, relying on grocery store weekly specials and stocking up when things are on sale. (Black explained the business concept of “loss leaders” that get you in the door.) Not to mention, now that her daughters no longer live at home, her grocery shopping has decreased significantly, so her grocery budget has more “breathing room”.
Black will fight the temptation to explain what’s driving up food prices (in stores and restaurants) and is well aware she’s very fortunate that it’s barely changed her shopping habits. Still, she can’t help but be concerned with how rising food prices affect people’s ability to afford nutritious food and basic supplies. Things many of us take for granted. But what she finds the most alarming (and disheartening),
Food banks, who are often the only thing standing between people having food and going hungry, are facing higher than usual demand at the same time they are pressured by food shortages and escalating costs. I could quote you numbers indicating the increase of people being served (many who are first-time food bank recipients) or the percentage increase in costs, but it is not about numbers – it is about people in our communities.
And while Red hadn’t thought about this ripple effect, now that she has, in the spirit of the holidays, we ask everyone,
If you’re able, consider making a donation tomorrow, Giving Tuesday, to your local food bank. Because while you may be able to manage the rising cost of food, millions can’t.
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
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).
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 …
Avoid feeling exhausted, get everything important checked off my list, and have time to enjoy the spirit of the season.
I love my lists, but when it comes to the holidays you can truly go crazy! There's lots of detailed holiday checklists online, but I felt overwhelmed just reading them. So, I created the following checklist to help me stay focused on what's important, and hope it gives you some food-for-thought.
- Gifts – Gifts – Gifts
It's really easy to drive yourself crazy, so it's critical to write down not only the WHO and WHAT, but also WHEN to shop. Remember to consider things that can cause stress later – small things like you forgot to get gift wrapping supplies to the large like large January credit card statements, so make sure to have and follow a BUDGET.
- Wishing All Happy Holidays!
I started to call this a holiday card list but then realized that the only cards I give are to my daughters. Everyone else I either email, text, call, or FaceTime. To me, it's making sure I reach out to everyone on this list.
- It's All About The Food
I don't know about you, but it's not a holiday without our favorite foods. But those don't just magically appear. It has to be planned – starting with what to make from scratch and what can be bought already made. Add in shopping, prep time, and actual cooking, and you have a plan. The holidays are definitely a food marathon, but a little bit of planning and time management will go a long way.
- Making Your Home Festive
For me, that means at least one inflatable on my front lawn and decorations in the most used areas of the house. (Black would call them "high traffic" areas.) I'll admit that I have fewer decorations than I did when the girls were little, and I love it that way. The house looks festive but it doesn't take me days to set up and then put away.
- What Are We Doing Today?
It doesn't matter whether it's your kids asking this question or the adults in your life – everyone wants to "do something" during the holidays. Of course, I'm usually responsible for planning holiday activities, and with this year's corona-craziness it will mean a little more thought and creativity. But hopping in the car and looking at Christmas lights or just taking a road trip for the day may well be in my future!
- Remember Others
I don't need to tell you that the holidays are a tough time for so many, and this year it's going to be even more so. So, think about possibly doing something for others – whether making a donation, delivering food, giving some of your time, the possibilities are endless. And will put you in the holiday spirit!
- Don't Forget About You!
If you're the person "in charge" of making sure the holidays are special for everyone else, it can be stressful and all-consuming. In the past, I'd "escape" for a few hours to the movies but, unfortunately, that's not an option this year. (I admit it … I miss movie popcorn!) So remember to do something for you. For me, the best gift is time. Time to do whatever I want, even if it means doing nothing.
As always, I wondered what Black thought/would put on her list, if she even has one as she's definitely NOT a holiday person. Her response? "Well, my holidays are much simpler as I live alone and have a very short list of people and business associates who receive gifts and, with the exception of my nieces, most are edible treats I order online. For me, charitable giving is year-long. And, I stopped sending holiday cards years ago and no one seemed to miss them. But, I do have one holiday tradition on my checklist that is being modified this year."
- Black's Holiday "Blast From The Past"
Every year, I send about a dozen people a very short, personalized, and to-the-point email to let them know that I am thinking about them. Starting this year, I am going to add a few people to the list who I have not "spoken" with for some time, just to let them know they have not been forgotten.
If you have gotten this far, I have one last item …
HO-HO-HO Happy Holidays!