A powerful case for why we should only celebrate Christmas every other year.

A friend of mine quit drinking a few years back and I asked him why. “When life is always a party, it’s never a party,” he said. That’s how I feel about Christmas.

When it’s always Christmas, it’s never Christmas.

But before you brand me as a bitter “bah humbug” type, let me explain. I love Christmas and I think I know how to make it even better.


For reasons mostly having to do with commerce, the Christmas season has been arriving earlier each year.

Cardboard cutouts of Santa hawking holiday trinkets are now appearing next to back-to-school displays in early September.

According to NerdWallet, 20% of Americans start Christmas shopping in the final weeks of summer and that number doubles even before Halloween.

“Forty percent have started Christmas shopping before Halloween,” Bernacchi University of Detroit-Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi explained to WWJ News Radio. “The pumpkins haven't even gone away yet and Christmas shopping — I mean, 40 percent? That’s just unbelievable.”

It’s simple math: the longer the season, the more you will spend. And we’re doing a fantastic job of obeying our retail masters.

While some look at premature Christmasing with skepticism, others are praising the trend, claiming it gives low-income people a chance to spread out their holiday spending.

But maybe the Christmas industrial complex shouldn’t be pressuring people to overextend themselves in the first place?

Studies show that the average American racked up about $1,000 in holiday debt debt in 2016, and many were still paying it off by Christmas 2017.

Christmas is such an all-pervasive part of American culture that goes on for so long, its magic has been diminished.

When Christmas music is on the radio from November 1 to January 15, it starts to become audio wallpaper.

When “Home Alone” is constantly on television for three months straight, watching Joe Pesci get hit in the nuts feels a little less triumphant.

The pressure to spend seems to intensify every year.

The days of aggressive Black Friday marketing seem quaint now that we get hit again three days later with Cyber Monday.

No one should blame you if you feel like Christmas feels a lot more like an obligation than a celebration.

We should celebrate Christmas every other year.

Imagine, if when the Christmas hullabaloo dies down in the early days 2019, it wouldn't come around until 2020?

There would be an entire year with no Christmas music, no holiday tearjerkers on the Hallmark Channel, and no viral videos of people getting cold cocked in a Walmart while trying to buy a $9 toaster.

None of it. Winter would come and go in peace.

One of the greatest joys of Christmas when I was a kid was waiting for it to happen. For a seven year old, the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas felt like three years.

Let's bring that back.

Anticipation is such a powerful emotion that Americans will actually watch curling once every four years in the Winter Olympics. Not because watching the athletic equivalent of some guy plowing his driveway is exciting, but because it's a rare occurrence.

The same goes for the McRib. It tastes like boiled egg cartons topped with ketchup, but the novelty keeps bringing us back.

Imagine if you actually had to wait for Christmas season to arrive instead of saying, “Wow. It’s Christmas time already? Time flies.”

But what about Jesus?

Every-other-year Christmas would be fantastic for Christians who want to remind people of the real reason for the season. On non-Christmas years, Christians could take that time to focus on the birth of their lord and savior without all of distraction caused by crass commercialism and secular traditions.

They could call it Jesus’s Birthday!

When the entire block isn’t flooded with Christmas lights, your big ass manger scene will finally get the attention its due.

Economically, people would be in a better place as well. Sure, consumer spending would plummet towards the end of the year, but the average person would be carrying around a lot less debt.

So what will we do on December 25?

For generations, Jewish people have celebrated December 25 by eating Chinese food and watching a movie. This seems like a pretty damn good way to celebrate non-Christmas.

Although it would suck for Jewish people. What was once a quiet dinner with the family at Changs would be ruined by a flock of ravenous gentiles overloading on kung pao chicken.

#StopChristmas2019

Some people who are reading this may say I’m part of the never-ending war on Christmas, and label me a blasphemer or communist. But I bet there are a lot of people out there who agree and are afraid to address the topic with their friends, families or coworkers.

So, let’s start a movement online. Because it’s a lot easier and less time consuming than taking it to the streets.

If you agree that Christmas should be every other year, jump out of the Christmas closet and share your support on social media at #StopChristmas2019.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your America. Do it for Christmas.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

via Jeopardy!

Kelly Donohue ended a three-game "Jeopardy!" winning streak Tuesday night, leaving him with an impressive $80,601 in cash. But his performances have set off a social media firestorm because of two instances that some claimed were racist signals.

The situation inspired an open letter addressing the issue signed by over 500 former "Jeopardy!" contestants.

Throughout Donoahue's brief run on the show, he signaled the number of games he won through hand gestures. After his first win last Friday, he held up one finger and after his Monday victory, he held up two. That was all fine and good. But it was after his third victory that things got complicated.

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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.