Photo courtesy of Red


Ghosts, goblins, and pumpkins are everywhere you look! Not the ads and not the neighborhood; I’m talking about my decorations. Plus, I indulge in all the Halloween-theme food (OK, really all the pumpkin spice things) because I love Halloween!

But I also love all the Halloween memories, which I’m reminded of every time I look out the window of my “workroom” and see our annual Halloween inflatable. And I’m not the only one who loves it because over the years, whenever it gets “old and tired” (I can relate), my daughters have insisted I replace it with an identical one. At over 6 feet tall, it towers over me, and the three ghosts popping out of a pumpkin are scary but in a friendly way. But the best part? On any given day, I can hear little kids in our neighborhood walking by with their mom or dad and stopping and “squealing” with delight. Which makes me smile because I know it’s becoming a future memory for them.

My other outdoor decoration doesn’t seem to get quite the same attention, although it always makes me smile. As in every single time I pull into my driveway. You’d think, after all these years, this witch would know how to drive, but clearly not. Or maybe she was just distracted by the ghosts.


I have always loved Red’s “bad driver” witch, partly because I love all things driving-related (OK, I will ignore the fact she crashed), but also because it originally was my decoration when I was married, and my stepdaughters were young.

People (of all ages) who celebrate Halloween may enjoy the decorations, candy (we all have our favorites), or even trick or treating, but my favorite part was always the candy-swapping negotiations. Originally, when Red and I were growing up, then my stepdaughters, and ultimately Red’s daughters. It is interesting how sibling rivalries and differences are put aside on Halloween and replaced with very business-like trade negotiations. Not to mention strategizing over return visits to houses that have the best candy.

And our Halloween wishes for you? (Guess who wrote “witch” one!)

  • No matter what you choose to do today or how you celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween and hope you have an opportunity to create wonderful memories for the years to come.
  • Trick or treat? Why not both? Happy Halloween!

Thanksgiving dinner may be behind us, but we continue to face increased food prices this holiday season. Some of us can still manage, although it may take some adjustments in eating and shopping habits. But for many, it means “food insecurity” (which is more than just being hungry, it’s a consistent lack of food), with more and more people turning to food banks.

So, if you can, and in the spirit of holiday gift-giving, consider donating to your local food bank. It may end up being the best gift of all because helping others is good for you.(Red knows it makes her feel good and puts her in the holiday spirit, while Black “ignores” the emotional aspects and touts the science behind it.)

Food prices. What goes up must come down. Or not.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, like most of us, has been impacted by rising food prices and shortages, while Black knows that understanding “why” that’s happening doesn’t help you put food on the table.

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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 girls.

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).

Events in our lives (both personally and in the world around us) may change from year to year, but amidst the joy and festiveness of the holidays, there’s always a certain amount of stress and challenges to get everything done. This year’s no different, and I’m sure Black would suggest (sarcastically, of course) I might want to reread my tried-and-true holiday survival list …

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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