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.)

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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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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).


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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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