Ask Red & Black
August 20, 2021
I have to tell you that "Why?" is Black's favorite
question. And one I used when I asked
myself that same question.
I probably should mention that I started wearing a mask when COVID-19 was first announced, and even though it's been months since I've been fully vaccinated, I still wear a mask. And I socially distance as much as possible. Why? Because over the years, although I initially fought it, Black has made me realize that I need to think about why I'm doing something vs. just doing (or not doing) something. And in terms of COVID-19, even though the vaccine significantly reduces my chances of getting the virus or the highly contagious Delta variant, it's not 100% effective. And yes, I know that although cases have reached a 6-month high, the vast majority of recent hospitalizations (and deaths) are unvaccinated people. But I figure a mask's a small price to pay to protect myself from getting a milder case.
But there's more. I'm not willing to take the chance that I could possibly, unknowingly, spread the virus to our 93-year-old mom (even though she's been vaccinated). Or, for that matter, to anyone else I may come in contact with, including children.
|I "do statistics" for fun but am not going to bore you with
numbers. Bottom line: Even though I have
been vaccinated, I want to reduce my chances of getting sick and/or spreading
the virus. And, if wearing a mask (properly!) does
that, I figure what is the big deal? (Not
to mention, I am spending significantly less on lipstick.)
The other reason I wear a mask is because we are on the "honor system" in terms of who has been vaccinated. I know several people who refuse to be vaccinated and "in theory" are required to wear a mask, but do not. (Do not get me started.) And, although I can avoid being around them, there is no telling how many other unvaxxed and unmasked people are out there. I cannot control what they do, but what I do is totally within my control.
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).
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me, this is a very special Black Friday
… as it’s Black’s birthday, which makes me smile as the term “Black Friday”
couldn’t be more perfect. So, as much as
she prefers to ignore it, my daughters and I will ignore her (it’s probably the
only day we can get away with that) and, at the very least, wish her a very
Happy Birthday in person.
After that, I’m looking forward to carrying on my “day after Thanksgiving” tradition, which unlike millions of other Americans, isn’t going shopping. It’s going to the movies! And it’s not because I hate to shop; it’s because I love the quiet and escape of a movie, especially as it’s the perfect way to relax and recuperate after my marathon Turkey Day shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. Of course, the popcorn is the best part, and Black claims (rightfully so) it’s the real reason I go to the movies.
I celebrate my birthday the same way I celebrate holidays
and even Black Friday. I work. And, enjoy the quiet and uninterrupted pace
of the day as everyone else is busy doing something else. (Red refers to this time of year as the “silly season”,
but all I know is that in-store shopping is too crowded, too time-consuming,
So, when do I do my holiday shopping? For family, I do things for them throughout the year, so holiday gifts are more like holiday tokens. For everyone else, usually on Cyber Monday, especially at Zabar’s, where I traditionally buy most of my holiday gifts. And, while I know that for some people, nothing will stop them from shopping on Black Friday, for others (such as myself), nothing will get us started.
it’s a simple question, but I hope you weren’t expecting a straightforward answer. In terms of my favorite candy, which I rarely
eat at any other time of the year (but I find the Halloween sizes irresistible),
that would be M&M’s (regular or peanut), Nestle Crunch, and KitKat. The
funny thing is, unlike our mom, I’m not a chocoholic,
but there’s just something about the combination of sweet and crunchy. (Which may also explain why I love kettle corn, but
that’s an entirely different subject.)
But when I think of Halloween and fall (my favorite season), there’s one candy that beats out all the others – candy corn! And it has to be the traditional white-orange-yellow ones. I’ll admit that I loved them more when I was a child, but the fact they’re one of my daughter Natasha’s favorites always make me smile. As does memories of making turkey cupcakes with candy corn forming the perfect feathers, beak, and feet!
I have one word to describe candy corn – nasty. Consistency and flavor. Although I will admit they make great
(non-edible) cupcake decorations. Anyway,
growing up, my favorite Halloween candies were Mounds, Milk Duds, Charleston
Chew, and Starburst. (Candy trivia –
which of those was used to teach rheology, the branch of physics that studies
the deformation and flow of matter? For the answer, check out this paper
from the Geological Society of America.)
Today, although I am no longer a candy fan, I enjoy the history of Halloween candy in general as well as specific nostalgic treats. But, I love how the Halloween concept of individually wrapped smaller versions of candy is now being used for other food items (such as pretzels, veggie chips, and popcorn). And, I am stocking up on them as they are perfect portion-controlled snacks good year-round.