We asked about the best presents you've ever given. The answers will make you smile.
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The holidays are here, which means that gifts are on everyone's minds.

Sure, you're probably dying to know what your friends and family got you (we hope it's what you've wanted all year). However, when it comes down to the actual gift exchange, you might find that giving leaves you feeling better than receiving.

Whether you're gifting jewelry to your wife, a bag of Hershey's Kisses to a work colleague, or a sweater covered in dachshunds that your friend will show off at every holiday party this year, there's just something about giving that warms all of our hearts.


In order to prove this theory, we asked real people about a time in their life when giving a gift was better than anything they could have found under the tree. Take a second to grab a tissue before you read these responses.

1. Tracey Carnazzo calls her best friend Noelle her "soulmate." For her, there was no greater gift than buying the gown the woman she loves most would be married in.

Tracey and Noelle. Photo courtesy of Tracey Carnazzo.

"Noelle's been my best friend for over 20 years," says Carnazzo. The pair, who live in New York,  do everything together — from traveling to hosting a popular podcast. When Noelle's mother couldn't make it wedding dress shopping with her daughter, Carnazzo (who also served double duty as both officiant and maid of honor)  took the reins.

"She was planning on buying the dress herself," explains Carnazzo, "but your mom is supposed to buy your dress! I bought it for her because I am her 'other mom,' even though she's three years older than I am."

"It made her feel loved and taken care of. It made me feel great to be able to give her something that she really deserves. Seeing her walk down the aisle in it was better than any gift I’ve ever received. I really love her. To see her happy is when I'm truly happy."

2. David Pardo said 'thank you' to a mentor who had helped him through so much.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash.

"I had a mentor who, when my life was difficult, spent a couple years effectively playing my therapist by phone every week or two, even though he was 1000s of miles away," writes Pardo in an email. His mentor was training to be a counselor, but wasn't comfortable accepting anything in return for his guidance. That didn't stop Pardo from repaying him down the road, though.

"About 4 years after we last spoke, my finances improved along with my mental state, [so] I gave him $1000 as a bit of a start on paying him back," he continues. "He'd been living in his van while finishing his PhD. A divorce while in grad school wrecked his finances. He didn't have a place for his son to live with him."

"After getting the money, he was able to get a place where he could live with his young kid. Being able to fix the thing that is most hurting someone brings a special type of satisfaction."

3. Martha Miller gave a memory that will endure for more than a lifetime.

Photo courtesy of Martha Miller.

"My father-in-law, Hubert, was turning 80 right before Christmas and certainly didn't need a single thing," writes Miller in an email. "I was trying to think of something meaningful we could give him and it finally struck me. He waited a very long time to become a grandfather and was thrilled when two grandsons were born just six weeks apart."

"I got the idea of giving him a photo shoot with them as a present. My sister-in-law and I took Hubert and our boys dressed in Notre Dame jerseys Grandpa had given them for the photo session the next week. My father-in-law wanted several sets of pictures so he could send them to his six brothers and sisters."

"When Grandpa passed away at 88, my son, then 10 years old, spoke at the funeral. He said his favorite memory of Grandpa was having the picture taken with his cousin and Grandpa in the jerseys Grandpa had given them. I tear up just thinking about it. We have the picture placed prominently in my son's room so he will be reminded of his wonderful Grandpa who loved him dearly and the fun time he had with Grandpa and his cousin. I love that this present was so meaningful to Grandpa, and that it is still bringing joy to us and to our son."

4. For Lisa Umar, bringing all of her mom's friends together for her birthday showed her that there's no better gift than making someone happy.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Umar.

"I was living in Washington, D.C. at the time while my family lived in Phoenix," Umar says. "For my mom's birthday, I decided to plan her a surprise party. I managed to track down a bunch of her friends, another friend donated their house for the evening and I sent out printed invitations and everything."

"I also flew home the day before so I could help set up the party and surprise her. She was totally surprised and cried a lot. I may have cried a little too. It felt awesome to pull the entire thing off as a complete surprise, and I was able to get so many of her friends all together in one room.

"There's really no better feeling than making someone that happy. Then, of course, she's reminded me every single year that no gift I ever give her will ever top it. Worth it!"

5. Rachel Toburen gave her mother a very different gift — one of a heartwarming companion.

Photo of Petal via Rachel Toburen.

"I fostered a litter of puppies, and my mom (two time zones away) fell in love with one," says Toburen. "She was trying to figure out some way to adopt the puppy, but coming to Colorado wasn't a possibility."

"To surprise her, we paid Petal's adoption fee, and flew to Michigan to deliver a 12-week-old puppy to my mom for Mother's Day. We told her about it in advance so she would be prepared and have her house ready. It was a lot of work on our end, but seeing my mom fall in love with this puppy from across the country, and then getting to have her...that was pretty awesome."

6. Jess Keegin gave a child the gift of education.  

Photo courtesy of Jess Keegin.

"I started sponsoring Tasila through Children International in 2012 when she was five years old," writes Keegin. "Zambian children typically start school when they're seven, but when I got Tasila's family report at age eight, it said she didn't attend school because her family (which consists of a single mother — her father is deceased — as well as four other siblings) can't afford it."

"I immediately knew I was going to change that, so I reached out to Children International to see what the costs would be to get her in school. She started school in January of 2014."

"She went from a child who looked constantly grumpy and unhappy to one whose smile could light up a room. When I asked CI what her school costs would be for 2017, I received a note that said she was 1st in her class."

"Her education will cost $171 in 2019. It's the best money I'll spend all year."

7. And David Pemberton proves that you can make people feel loved and special no matter how much or how little you spend.

Comic courtesy of David Pemberton.

"When I lived in Denver, I had absolutely no money, and my parents had to scrape together what they could to buy me a ticket back home to Tennessee for the holidays," says Pemberton.

"I have a big family — my present list that year was in the teens — and I knew that I wouldn't be able to buy anyone anything. So I got a ream of computer paper, some pencils, and a few sharpies from the office and I drew a one-page comic for everyone in my family. Each comic was inspired by my favorite memory with them. I bought several $1 frames from the local Goodwill to frame them."

"That year, as we all sat around to open gifts, it was always the comics that made people cry. And I mean everyone cried. Why does that make it better than receiving a gift? Well, I think it's because it let me know that everyone cherished these memories just as much as I did."

This holiday season, the best present you can give is one that you've wrapped with love. The joy you get in return will last you all year long.

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.