4 holiday memories that remind us what the season is really all about.
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General Mills

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

For me, one in particular stands out. I was about 15, and it was another hot, island Christmas (I grew up in the Virgin Islands, so Christmas was always over 80 degrees, and every day looked like a postcard). My mom, sister, a chunk of my family, and I went over to my gran’s house to spend time with her and with each other, ushering in the season.

Gran had made her famous homemade eggnog (for which she refused to give away the recipe). The entire family crowded into the kitchen for our serving before moving to the patio, where we watched the sun go down while drinking eggnog, arguing about music, and debating the merits of Mariah Carey.


That memory is what the holidays mean to me. Everyone being together, laughing, and celebrating the season and that we’d almost made it through another year.

The gazebo in downtown Frederiksted, St. Croix, all decked out for the holidays. Image via iStock.  

The holidays mean something a little bit different to each of us, but in the kitchen and around the dinner table, we make some of our favorite memories.

General Mills has been around for 150 years and knows a thing or two about food and the holidays. They asked a few of their blogger fans to share their favorite holiday traditions, and one thing was pretty clear: Food and family are key ingredients for many of us during the holiday season. Their sweet memories — which many of us can relate to — will give you all the holiday feels.

1. Like cookie-decorating extravaganzas that each generation of kids loves.

The great cookie decorating tradition continues with Liz's kids. Image used with permission.

Liz, author of the blog Eat Move Make, remembers she and her siblings helped their mom to decorate holiday treats.

"My mom would bake cut-out cookies, and we'd decorate them. ... We took our little works of art seriously! It was so fun to find the ones we knew we had made. I distinctly remember the crunch of the colored sugars as I'd take a bite," she wrote on her blog.

"I still use the same recipe and decorating technique with my own kids since it's such a fond memory, and my kids insist to this day that those cookies be a part of their tradition every year as well."

2. And then there's the playful squabbles that take place every holiday between the same two family members.

Myrah (also know as the "Coupon Mamacita") recalls her parents' playful bickering each year as her dad attempted to carve the turkey.

Myrah and her parents in front of the Christmas tree. Image used with permission.

Myrah's dad would give carving his best effort, and her mom would poke and prod at him, pretending to be upset with his efforts. She'd tell him, "You’re ruining it!" while he asserted "It’s fine. Let me do it, " Myrah recalls on her blog. "All the hand waving that went with it was so comforting and warming to me. It was a tradition that made me smile as I watched them have their annual 'war.'"

3. Baking for Santa is a tradition that can never grow old.

Stephanie, who blogs as The Tiptoe Fairy, cherishes the moments spent with her kids baking pastries for Santa and family friends.

It's all hands on deck as Stephanie and her kids bake holiday treats. Images used with permission.

"Our favorite holiday tradition is baking together," she shares on her blog. "My  kids love helping me bake. Every year, we make tons of baked goodies for their teachers, friends, and my husband’s coworkers. We also always bake something yummy for Santa to enjoy while he’s leaving gifts. Each year I come up with something new. This year it’s Brownie Stuffed Crescent Rolls. One of these fresh out of the oven is just melt-in-your-mouth heavenly.”

4. And there's nothing like savoring a treat while the family gathers around the Christmas tree.

For Heather, author of the blog Who Needs a Cape, nothing compares to her family's picture-perfect Christmas mornings in front of the tree.

Heather's delicious apple crescent ring, a Christmas morning favorite in her family. Image used with permission.

"As cliche as it is ... Christmas morning is always just my husband, me and our kids (ok the dog is there this year too)," Heather writes. "I LOVE just spending the majority of our day in our jammies. Kids ripping through presents, my husband and I with coffee watching ... we open our gifts after the kids are off playing with whatever new thing is the best. I make something EASY but super yummy [like her apple crescent ring]. It's easy and delish and everyone in my family loves a fancy treat for Christmas Morning!"

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

Whether it's time spent relaxing with your family, stealing food off each other's dinner plates during a shared meal, or swapping stories from the past year and hopes and dreams for the year to come, we wish you a wonderful holiday.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via US Secretary of Defense / Flickr and The Today Show

As the nation braces itself for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden has embraced the family of George Floyd at what has to be an incredibly stressful time.

Following closing arguments in the Chauvin trial on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill has sent jurors to deliberate. The verdict is expected to come in the next few days.

"He was just calling," George's brother, Philonise Floyd, said about the president. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."

Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in 1972 and his son Beau to cancer in 2015.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.