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Red's Head

When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.

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I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

Photo by chameleoneye for iStock

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At the risk of Black coming up with another potato analogy, for me, Chanukah's all about potato latkes. The childhood memories of our dad grating pounds and pounds of potatoes to the point where I'm not sure I could see our kitchen table to many decades later my eldest daughter taste-tasting latkes from an assortment of places. (I love to cook, but latkes are a lot of work.)

Of course, the lighting of the menorah is also such a special part of the holiday celebration, whether the electric menorah that my parents had where you would "twist" each light bulb as the nights progressed or the more traditional menorah with candles that my daughters and I light each year (and never leave unattended).

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I never cease to be amazed by the miracle of Chanukah (regardless of whether you spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah, or some other variation) and how the oil that was only supposed to last one day instead lasted for eight days. It is as if your cellphone indicated it is at 12% but lasts eight days. Or, if the gas gauge in your car indicates you have 25 miles left, but you are able to drive 200 miles. Sometimes things happen that defy logic, and that is where faith takes over. And a belief in something bigger than all of us.

Tomorrow is the start of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, which celebrates hope and miracles – and who could not use hope and miracles?

Happy Chanukah!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Almost everyone likes Thanksgiving, but of course, Black's not one of them. First, she's not a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving food and only has one thing she likes, unlike most of us who'd be hard-pressed to narrow it down to one favorite. And then there's the "forced" sense of celebration. She remembers the best part of Thanksgiving when we were growing up in New York wasn't the table laden with food, but having lots of relatives busy "arguing" with each other, but that tradition ended too soon for Black. (Red, who's definitely into conflict avoidance, is glad it did.)

Black's consistent in that she also dislikes celebrating her birthday, and this year it falls on Thanksgiving. All of which creates a bit of a challenge for Red, who loves to celebrate both. So, what's Red to do? Well, believe it or not, in "RED & BLACK … A Birthday Turkey", Black's potato analogy may provide a clue.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Created by Black
Red loves Thanksgiving, turkey, and TV dinners, but last year she never expected that they would somehow be connected (thanks to Black!) to a history lesson. This year, even though it will be a more "normal" Thanksgiving dinner, we decided to rerun the column, while Red can't help but wonder if Black still prefers sushi over turkey …

Red's Head Red

I know it can't be avoided, but I feel bad that Mom's spending Thanksgiving alone, but given the coronavirus it can't be helped.

Black's Head Black

Unfortunately, there are many people in that situation this year. Myself included.

Red's Head Red

Please. You only "do" Thanksgiving because it's expected of you. Unlike Mom, you don't even want me to make you a Thanksgiving dinner care package.

Black's Head Black

Not a fan of turkey – but did you know that TV dinners were created because of Thanksgiving?

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