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


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Thanksgiving’s my favorite holiday, although it’s hard because Natasha’s living in England. But I can’t wait for Sawyer to be home from college, and since she and her friends love our new (or at least new to us) pool table, I’m looking forward to them hanging out at our house.


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That means there will be more people to enjoy your decorations throughout the house. Do you still put the big inflatable turkey out front?


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Of course. He’s my favorite inflatable and has been on our front lawn since right after Halloween! If it was up to me, and the homeowners association wouldn’t send me a nasty note, I’d have him up year-round. And I don’t expect you to remember, but years ago, I pared down the number of decorations I put up inside the house. Just enough to make it festive, but not overwhelming in terms of set-up and take-down.


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And, if I remember correctly, you also pared down your traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Or, at least, the homemade desserts. Are you going back to being excessive now that Sawyer may have friends over?

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I always make too much food, and this year will be no different, even though in the past, it was also so I could give Mom lots of leftovers. This year will be our first Thanksgiving with her gone.

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I am sure it will hit you at strange moments throughout the day. Especially when it is time to deal with all the leftovers.

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Well, it’s not like you’ll take them. You barely like any of it to begin with.

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Look, I am not a fan of holidays and liked being able to use COVID as my excuse for staying home. And, even though I dislike turkey, I always enjoy the Honey Baked Ham and take a few slices home.

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Technically, since you buy the ham and I merely pick it up and serve it, you should take all the leftover ham home. But since Sawyer and I both love it, we’re glad you don’t.

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Using that logic, I should take home all the leftover pies I bring from Whole Foods. Even though I am not a fan of pies.

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Well, everyone else loves them, and it takes away the guilt of me not making everyone’s favorite desserts.

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I find it funny – you cook all day and even make multiple types of potatoes so everyone can have their favorite, yet feel guilty about store-bought pies that everyone loves. Years ago, I used to run away from home to avoid celebrating the holiday and never felt guilty.

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I forgot about that, as it was before I moved to Texas. I never knew whether you were trying to avoid celebrating Thanksgiving or your birthday since they fall so close together.

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Both. And, especially when my birthday fell on Thanksgiving.


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This year your birthday falls on Black Friday, which seems so appropriate. Although, like every year, we’ll struggle to find something to get you.


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I have given up trying to tell you that you do not have to do anything.


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Yes, but you hit 65 this year. It’s a biggie.


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Ok, then how about we celebrate by starting a new tradition, and deliver pies to your local nursing home or assisted living facility? It would be a great way to make me feel young. Or, at least, younger.


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That’s funny. I used to bake cookies and brownies for the girls to give as Christmas gifts, but I’ve never thought about delivering them to total strangers. Plus, since Mom’s birthday was at the end of November, if we did it around Thanksgiving, it would be a great way to honor her memory.


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Is that not the true spirit of Thanksgiving? People may debate its origins, but it is about giving thanks. The traditional feast “replicates” the Pilgrims celebrating their good fortune by sharing their food and crops with the Indians.


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Says the woman who doesn’t cook. And never has people over to her home.


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But, neither is required to appreciate what you have in your life and share it with others.


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Good point. I think we sometimes get so wrapped up in the shopping and cooking that we forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving.


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Which is why having meaningful traditions is important. They work as reminders.


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Then I’m not sure I should admit one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.


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Do I even want to know?

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Probably not. I wake up, turn on “The Godfather” movie marathon on TV, and start cooking. I love the break from my normal routine and having the freedom to cook all day, coupled with the feeling that it means fall’s here, even if the weather’s still warm.


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It sounds like you are appreciative of the day. So, that is a step in the right direction. Plus, the movies are about family. And, include family meals.


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Yes, but even you, who I know loves to connect dots that seem to be unrelated, can’t tie the Corleones or The Godfather movies to the Pilgrims!


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Really? But I believe, to paraphrase Don Vito Corleone, the Pilgrims made the Indians an offer they could not refuse.


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Clever! Especially as that may be the most memorable line from the first Godfather movie. So, I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse … we’ll have Thanksgiving dinner late enough that you’ll have most of the day to work on Red & Black in uninterrupted peace and quiet.


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Deal. And, I give thanks that you remember that is my Thanksgiving tradition.

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

Photo by Rabbitti for iStock

It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


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What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


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You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


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I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


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Yes.


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I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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