People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

Red's Head

Mom's almost 94 years old, so I appreciate that she travels down "memory lane" and reminisces. But what I don't appreciate, or understand, is why she insists on focusing on negative memories and wishing things were different. What makes it worse is how she remembers things, or let's just say her "versions" of what happened, which makes me wonder if we're even talking about the same event.

As you know, I love history, and there's so much we can learn from the past , including how to try to avoid repeating mistakes so you can make "today" better. That applies to people, too. But, with her, I feel like it's only "lip service" when she's said that she wanted to clear the air about past events in the hope we could improve things going forward. Because whenever I've tried to "sort through" things, it seems all she wants to do is prove how she's right and I'm wrong. Then and now.

Black's Head Black

You bring up two different but intertwined issues.

First, why people remember things differently. We are a story-telling society, so think about our memories … are they not just stories from the past? Influenced by how we reacted to the "facts" and our memories of the "facts"? If you and I experience the same event, I bet you will remember how you felt, whereas I will have a more pragmatic memory.

Second, what is the objective of looking back? Mom has always dwelled in the past, but her "stories" always defend her actions rather than look at what she might have been able to do differently. Or, even acknowledge how she may have contributed to the situation. Stating the objective as "learning from mistakes" only works when that is what you are willing to do.

Want an extreme, and very serious, example? Look at January 6. Some people want to examine exactly what happened and why to prevent it from happening again, while others are using it for political purposes. And many (most?) are not even being honest about their motives.


  • Do you know people who seem to prefer to dwell in the past? Why do you think they do?
  • Why do you think some people are more interested in "defending the past" than "learning from the past"?
  • Do you think recognizing that different people remember things differently makes addressing issues easier or more difficult? Why?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, there’s no getting around that we’re in the thick of what Red refers to as the “silly season”. And the funny thing is, although we wrote this Conversation Starter last year, we had an almost identical conversation again this year. Some things never change – like Red getting caught up in all the things on her “to do” list …

Red's Head Red

I can't believe how quickly the holidays are flying by. On one hand, all I want to do is enjoy them as I love this time of year. But I can't because there always seems so much to do. And I'm afraid that if I don't do everything on my holiday "to do" list, I'll disappoint people, including me. You don't have this problem as you don't have kids and you live alone, plus others aren't looking to you to make the holidays festive and memorable.

Black's Head Black

You seem to start with your "to-do" list, whereas I think about the significance of the holiday and what will make it meaningful and memorable. Yes, it is a more pragmatic approach, but it makes the planning so much easier. You know that I dislike the over-commercialization of holidays, but it does provide a reminder that it is important to let others know how much you appreciate them.


  • What's most important to you during the holidays? Why?
  • Describe your "perfect" (yet realistic) holiday celebration. What it would take to make it come true?
  • If you celebrate with others, have you ever discussed what's important to them?

P.S. – Since this is being posted in the midst of the December holiday season (what Red refers to as the "silly season"), you might be interested in these recent posts:

    Every holiday season seems like Groundhog Day to me, so this year I was relieved to be able to re-read my post from last year as it reminded me that I face the same challenges every holiday season. I also couldn't help but laugh at myself, knowing that all I have to do is heed my own advice. And as is frequently the case … I can learn a lot when I talk to myself.

    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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    Design by Sawyer Pennington

    People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

    red head red head

    I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year since it felt like Thanksgiving was canceled last year. OK, maybe not canceled, but streamlined since I couldn't invite anyone who didn't live with us. The dining room table seemed incomplete, especially as mom couldn't join us. It's funny because, over the years, I've always taken for granted that even as life changes, such as the girls growing up and going off to college, Thanksgiving would always bring us together. So, I'm not sure that I truly stopped and appreciated each Thanksgiving Day as I was so focused on everything I needed to get done. I might stop and think about something I was specifically thankful for, but I need to start appreciating the day itself. To try to "be present", so to speak, in the present.

    Black's Head Black

    I know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but what you just described is gratitude. Gratitude is "deeper" than thankfulness, and the best way I can describe it is … think about when you might write a thank you note – someone gives you something or does something for you. It is a fleeting event. Now think about if you were to write someone a note or letter of appreciation.

    You have repeatedly told me that mere mortals often need reminders, so what if this Thanksgiving you start a "gratitude habit"? Make a daily appointment with yourself to find a few quiet moments and write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as sunlight on your face or the crunch of an apple. You are probably rolling your eyes right now, but it will only take a few minutes and can change your life. Or, at least, how you look at it.


    • Why do some people not appreciate and give thanks for the positive things in their life?
    • If you begin to appreciate the value of appreciation (pun intended), what might you want to be mindful of going forward?
    • Do you think a "gratitude habit" might be useful? Would you be willing to "test-drive" (Black's words) one for a month and see if your opinion changes? Explain your answers.