It was bad enough that we couldn't take our mom for her traditional Mother's Day lobster dinner at The Palm (although we never celebrate it on the actual day as restaurants are too crowded). Thanks to the pandemic, restaurants were either closed or take-out only. Given our mom is in her 90s and has pre-existing conditions, she was distancing herself from the rest of the world and basically secluded at home. (Something, by the way, she's definitely not happy about.)

We never dreamed, however, that …


six months later we'd have to forego her November birthday celebration, which is the same lobster dinner at the same restaurant. Clearly for our Mom, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant with her daughters has always been a special treat and something she looks forward to (or maybe it's just the lobster). While, for Red, going out to eat used to be a fun and relaxing escape from cooking at home, now it's a risk-reward decision filled with anxiety and stress. And always the same decision, "Not worth it." For Black, it's always been a "social thing" as she's had a long-standing (decades long!) Saturday night date with her best friends, John and Diana. Now, they visit over the phone and laugh about how much lower their AmEx bills are every month.

From a strictly pragmatic perspective – How do you maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household when you go out to eat? Obviously, you have to take off your mask to eat and drink (although there are masks that accommodate straws). Is it even feasible to go out to eat with people not in your "personal bubble"? Climate and weather permitting, how safe is it to eat outdoors?

But it's the emotional implications that make it so difficult. We're now in the midst of what Red calls the "silly season" where dining out and holiday parties have always been such a big part of celebrating the season. The pandemic has been with us for almost a year and we just want a break. A holiday break. So, now what?

The answers will be different for everyone, as we all have our own way of looking at risk-reward. Most of us are already struggling with holidays that are celebrated with food, family, and friends. Maybe if we focus on the holiday spirit, recognizing we're all facing the same challenges, and try to keep things in perspective, knowing next year will be better. And mix in a little humor …

Got your mask? Check. Have your battle plan ready. Check. Ready to keep distance. Check. Going into battle? No, just going out to eat.

P.S. – For those of you wondering about Mom's lobster dinners, we did a belated take-out for her Mother's Day dinner and she said it was the best lobster she had ever eaten. Full stop. And she's looking forward to the birthday dinner. Maybe, it is just the food.

When Black came up with the idea of daily Banter Bites, Red thought it was conceptually great, but a bit unrealistic. At first glance, having to come up with a short comment from Red (ok, keeping it short might be a challenge), followed by a quick response from Black (no problem there), seemed like an easy task. But Red was concerned about keeping it current and relevant to readers – whether something happening in our lives, current events, or something that Black found in her non-stop reading and research, and told Black:

I'm not sure we'll have enough material to be able to post every day.

Rather than argue or debate, Black humored her sister, and suggested they do it a few days a week instead of every day. Meanwhile, she found it ironic that Red, the self-proclaimed queen of blah-blah-blah, was concerned about not having enough topics to discuss. But as with most things, when given a little time, Red often crosses to the "Black" side of things. We soon were coming up with more potential material than there were days to post and expanded Banter Bites to six days of the week (we believe Sundays shouldn't be spent on gizmos, although that doesn't stop Black from working).

We had gotten into a rhythm of daily Banter Bites, and then it was suggested to expand the posts as readers wanted to know more about the topic including what inspired or prompted it. Black immediately came up with the idea of adding a "Banter Bite Backstory" to each post.

So, how did Red react this time? Instead of being reluctant, Red embraced the idea:

It's so much fun being able to share with our readers the backstory of each Banter Bite. It's funny, because most times we're just spinning on a dime and reacting to things that happen – whether current events or in our lives. But isn't that what we all do every day? Add to the mix that Black and I usually see things very differently, and you end up with no shortage of things for us to say.
DON’T MISS A THING
For Red & Black Banter in your inbox ...
FOLLOW US ON

I drafted this post weeks ago, but it seems fitting to post it today. Sometimes we need days to officially remind us to help others but for some people it seems to come naturally. Yes, today is National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. But, that's not what I want to talk about.

This might not seem much to you. And I know it was truly nothing to Black. Just a quick reply on Twitter that she tossed off without a second thought. But to me it showed how, to some people, charity in the purest and best sense of the word just comes, well, naturally.

The details of where it started really isn't important, but it was a personal comment made in response to one of our "Words & Banter" posts and had a ripple effect as it ultimately involved a company mentioned in the post. The individual let us know that if replying to our post resulted in the company helping resolve their problem, then they'd send Black a bottle of red or white wine. (OK, I probably shouldn't disclose that Black's the one behind our tweets, but anyone who knows us would know that.) Most people, I suspect, would have thought, "Wow, that's a very nice offer" and then would have replied with their preference.

But not Black … she simply (and sincerely) replied:

Fingers crossed … but no gift necessary. Instead make a donation to a favorite charity.

It was like any other weekday morning, a tumbler of hot coffee on my desk and the morning news on the TV in the background, as I brace myself as I open Outlook. Computer issues? Nope, especially now that I have a new computer. Instead, it's the daily onslaught of emails generated by Black as she seems to do her best thinking while the rest of us are sleeping.

Well, the subject line of one of her emails, "Crazy idea?", stands out and I open it to find an image of a Good Humor truck and a leading question:

Keep Reading ... Show less