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Tips For Holiday Returns; Handling Divisive Political Talk Over The Holidays; Parkland Students Push For Change After Shootings. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 25, 2019 - 06:30   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Among the most popular items, six- ounce containers of Trader Joe's egg salad and 20-ounce containers of Trader Joe's old fashioned potato salad with a use date by December 27th. A full list of recalled products is on the FDA's website.

The music world stunned by the sudden death of Grammy winning songwriter, Allee Willis. Her name may not ring a bell but I'm sure you've heard her music.

Willis is best known for writing the Friends theme song. The Grammy winner was inducted into the songwriter's hall of fame last year for a number of pop hits including Earth Wind and Fire's Boogie Wonderland and September. Willis died yesterday of cardiac arrest. She was 72.

UNC Charlotte student Riley Howell who died tackling a gunman during a campus shooting in April is being honored by his beloved Star Wars franchise. They've created a character described on the Star Wars fan site as Jedi Master and Historian, Riley Howell.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To us it's just like, kind of like a really nice way to round out the worst year of all of our lives. He's a Jedi Master and he's a hero.


KOSIK: The 21-year-old was a lifelong Star Wars fan. A letter to his family from the makers of Star Wars said Riley's courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us. I'm Alison Kosik. Now back to John and Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's the thought that counts, at least that's what they say. But what if you got a gift that you really can't stand and/or maybe let's just say something you already have, OK?


CAMEROTA: Slacks, trousers, whatever. Christine Romans joins us with tips to make returns a little easier.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I think sweaters are very dangerous. I mean, I don't know this for sure but my anecdotal research is that the biggest return things are sweaters.

CAMEROTA: What about slacks?

ROMANS: Slacks ...

CAMEROTA: John seems very fixated on slacks.

ROMANS: ... very difficult. I mean how do you know exactly someone is wasting ...

CAMEROTA: No. No, John, no.

ROMANS: No trousers.


ROMANS: No sweaters unless you really know the person. And if you're buying the sweater, you probably really don't know them. Look, returns during the holiday can seem very daunting and some retailers have a no questions asked policy to return those trousers or that sweater. But others have very strict rules that can make returning things frustrating or impossible.

So here's what you need to know before you head back to the mall. Do not open the box, smile and thank grandma but do not open the box. Don't remove the packaging on any gift you don't want, especially for electronics. This is important. You risk a restocking fee if the packaging isn't intact and if products are missing any tags, you're going to be stuck with them.

Keep those gift receipts and you can remind grandma to give you a gift receipt, but be careful not to throw them out with the wrapping paper that also happens.

BERMAN: And say very loudly.

ROMANS: Yes. Some retailers are not going to let you return your gift without one and others may give store credit instead. Check return policies in store and online during the holidays. Some retailers will extend their deadlines often until late January, but my sort of my rule of thumb is you got a week or two to really get rid of this stuff.

Bring an ID. There are stores like Best Buy and Victoria's Secret, they use computerized return authorization systems because they're trying to detect abuse. Those are places where people do like serial returns as part of a scam. They can also determine how many times a customer has tried to return items. You might be asked to show your driver's license or another ID if you return an item in person.

It's really an art giving gifts that people actually want. So here's what's popular this year, clothing and accessories are number one, gift cards are number two, they always are. The National Retail Federation says more than half of gift givers will purchase three to four gift cards on average. Toys are next. Then books, music and movies. The top toys this year, Barbie still number one for girls. She always

rules. LEGO still the top toy for boys. Although LEGO is on girls' gift too. One trend to keep an eye on next year guys in retail recommerce, apps like Rent the Runway and Poshmark have paved the way for brands like thredUP, an online thrift store that has gained popularity this year.

Data shows that secondhand clothes market is likely to reach $41 billion by 2022. So the bottom line there is that people are renting stuff, they're not buying sweaters anyway. So keep that in mind.

BERMAN: I just wear sweaters from the 1990s. But if you're looking for books Amanda Wakes Up now available ...

CAMEROTA: You're the best.

BERMAN: ... in paperback.

ROMANS: I thought that would be wrapped with a bow, but I do understand you want to show me the book.

BERMAN: It's really good. Well, you've got several copies already.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh....

ROMANS: But can I say something about the gift cards? The thing about the gift cards that I fight with retail analysts about this all of the time because there's a big percentage of gift cards that are never redeemed. So if you give a gift card, keep in mind you might be just giving somebody something that they're not going to use anyway.

BERMAN: Isn't that the game? I mean that's what the retailer's dream.

ROMANS: I think that's part of the game.

BERMAN: Is they want you to give the gift card ....

ROMANS: But I know the kids these days, they really love the gift card.


CAMEROTA: And because otherwise you risk buying somebody a present that you don't know exactly their tastes, so a gift card covers you.

ROMANS: But what is the meaning of a gift, right? It should be something from the heart that shows you know the person you're saying thank you and I love you. Does a piece of plastic do that? I don't know. Here, John, here's 25 bucks. Go get yourself something pretty.

BERMAN: ...really excited. I tend to make things like collage. I think collage is underappreciated in Christmas.

ROMANS: Ah, macrame. I could use a macrame planter.

BERMAN: Collage like ...


ROMANS: A nice macrame planter would be lovely.

CAMEROTA: Yes. OK. I look forward to getting that from you.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, Merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: Merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Merry Christmas to you.

ROMANS: Merry Christmas.

BERMAN: It's Christmas day during one of the most divisive times in the nation's recent history. We'll focus less on what divides us and more what unites us, next.


BERMAN: So holidays can be a joyous time when families come together and celebrate what's most important, but they can also be a source of stress.

CAMEROTA: I've heard that.

BERMAN: Especially given how divided the country is right now. For more on what to keep in mind as many Americans celebrate Christmas, we're joined by Father Dave Dwyer, the host of "The Busted Halo Show" on SiriusXM Catholic Channel and CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory.

So Father, this is one of those questions we face heading into the holidays.


BERMAN: How do you deal with politics or how do you talk about politics in a family where you might have divided views into me - and forgive me for being cynical here.


BERMAN: The answers are either A, don't.

DWYER: Right.

BERMAN: Or B, just suck it up and deal with it. You really don't get along as well as you think you do, anyway.

DWYER: I would hope that there could be some sort of middle ground that's based in charity, that's based in love. The fact that we are family first and maybe even honestly for some families just setting ground rules when you walk in with the casserole, "OK, can we agree that we love each other and everything else can be subservient to that."


CAMEROTA: That's nice. I mean, I think that that's a nice one.


CAMEROTA: Just go in and agree that you're not going to have a political fight that day.

DWYER: Right.

CAMEROTA: I think that works.

DWYER: Some families may have to say, "OK, this is off the table, literally that table, when we're at the table, these topics, no. And then after awhile, after a couple glasses of wine, then maybe we can go at it.?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But this whole topic is bigger than just getting together at the holidays, obviously, where you can avoid certain no go topics. But we were saying before as we're talking about this, the real challenge in a toxic political environment is how do we bring God into it a little bit, which we seldom do.

We don't do it in media. We don't do it in daily life. But how do we bring our best selves into it even though it's a passionate fight about politics? How do we try to recognize the other? So what I say is how do we bring a little bit more humility into it. You can't do it in a straight up political analysis or if you're covering a political fight, but in how we interact with each other is how do we bring a little bit more humility into it.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you've written a book, How's Your Faith.

GREGORY: Right. John didn't mention that. He wasn't very generous about that.


BERMAN: I've read Amanda Wakes Up.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Where does it ring? Is it like Amanda Wakes Up?

CAMEROTA: I mean, it's not as great, but it's good.

GREGORY: No, come on.

CAMEROTA: But how do you suggest injecting God into our conversations if it doesn't come naturally?

GREGORY: Well, I think God can be a complicated topic for a lot of people, people who both don't believe or who don't like to talk openly about God being a source of inspiration in their lives. But I think for people of faith, I would consider myself one as well as obviously father, is to look for God for inspiration and to help us master our worst impulses.

And I think that at a time when there's toxicity around this question of who we are and who we're becoming as a country, I think we look at individual interactions, our relationships within our families, within our communities. There we can try to find some understanding. There we can notch some successes through forgiveness, through compassion, through just listening that maybe can be carried forward.

Everything we look at is so nationalized, that we're walking down the street and thinking about our national life instead of looking at you and saying, how are you or thank you for doing this for me. Those things, I think, matter. I don't think it's pollyannish just to say ...

DWYER: You are a child of God, you're my son, you're my daughter and even as you're talking about the other in broader than just on Christmas day, because Christmas day will end, that maybe the smiles will come off. Can we all agree that we are human and we can be charitable and respectful of one another and have a conversation about something that I don't particularly agree with, but I'd like to hear what you are passionate about.

I statements; I feel like this. Well, how do you feel?


BERMAN: Well, you just presented two things which are way too absent in our culture every day, which is one, listening, and two, humility, which you brought up there. And it's interesting because I was asking just how people get along on Christmas day and you guys I think rightfully brought in God. I wasn't necessarily thinking I was going to leave it to God.

I was hoping to get through the day maybe with more mundane means.


GREGORY: Well, part of this is if we talk about standing in the flow of grace, remembering that God has expectations for us and that God inspires us to act a certain way. Jesus certainly was the example of that and I'm a Jew and in the Jewish tradition you see that it's replete in our tradition, much of which is shared, anyway.

But to bring it into real terms, it's a holiday season, I always find that the challenge of finding God is not listening to your sermon, it's going to the airport. When we feel the most stressed, the most entitled by the way, how dare you look in my bag.

This is where how do we find some patience, how do we kind of get bigger than that particular moment and this is where I don't think we're good enough. We do a good enough job even in the realm of politics. I had a senator suggest to me once, it's great if you're a person of faith to say to another elected leader, "Hey, what motivates you? This is what motivates me. Can that be a common bond?" And maybe that can trickle out a little bit into how we agree about stuff.

BERMAN: Where's God at the airport, the sky club?

DWYER: No, it's special. It's a special God club. They're used to be.

BERMAN: above platinum.

DWYER: Right, it's very odd.

GREGORY: This is the cynicism we're talking about, it's right here.


DWYER: But it breaks my heart to hear when families are going home for Christmas and sometimes people have told me that they had to make different plans, like they literally weren't welcome in their parents' house because of a political divide. And if we can't be humans first and people of faith and family first and then Americans first and then partisan politics, we've kind of got some things in the wrong order, unfortunately.

GREGORY: But part of this too, I mean, in Judaism we say that Torah is not up in the sky, it's not beyond our reach, it's in our mouth, it's on our lips. It's something that we can live every day and some of the basic kindnesses. And, again, it doesn't have to sound trite to say, "Can there be a little bit more acceptance of each other, forgiveness of each other? Can we all be a little bit more compassionate?"


And again, in this toxicity piece, when we're circling around this idea of who are we, again, when you talk about like the President, people say like, "Well, what kind of person are you if you're for the President?" Instead of saying, "Hey, we may disagree about this, but where are you coming from on this? What about this over here? What about that over there?"

Because it's not so much a question about what do you believe in, it's a question of who you are and that's dangerous territory.

DWYER: Yes. And listening is what you said. I mean, whether it's the family meal or it's somebody at the airport on the subway, do what psychologists tell us to do, ask people about themselves. "Well, tell me why that's interesting to you," as opposed to, "This is what I feel and I don't want to hear about you."

BERMAN: But the other thing you can do, which is do stuff together.

DWYER: Yes, that'd be great.


BERMAN: Find something that you can all do inside the house and I know for a lot of Christians that's going to church, we should all do together.

DWYER: Sure. Yes.

BERMAN: And probably should do together. But there are other things too, go bowling. My family, we go bowling.


BERMAN: Right?

CAMEROTA: I play Scrabble.


CAMEROTA: It's great. I mean, I agree that these family games and group games and anything where you have to understand each other and you have to be patient while somebody else is doing something.

DWYER: Exactly. And make it a balance. Let's make sure that we do some of that and there's usually - in every family, there's usually some cheerleader, somebody is going to say, "Hey, let's play the game." Make sure we do that, because we know that we're going to spend 20 minutes or an hour fighting about politics.

OK, let's do that. Let's also have fun together.

GREGORY: What we also face in family is we all face tough issues within our families. But that's one of the most important, it is the most important unit to get right.


GREGORY: That's your most important community to work on those relationships and when those relationships get better, then you think about widening out those concentric circle of communities.

DWYER: Well, we would believe in Christianity and Judaism that the family is the building block of a healthy society. And so if all of this is going on around us, we at least have to get this right so that we can move out from there.

GREGORY: Right. And it's the absence of some sense of understanding of each other and respect for each other, especially belief, the absence of faith in the public square and this is an issue. A lot of people are secular. They don't want to inject it into politics and I obviously respect that.

But if you can understand people's motivations, we don't have faith leaders who are weighing in on our public debates today. I think that's a critical absence. I think there's a lot of cynicism about organized religion, unfortunately.

But the absence of those voices does not temper the passions of our politics. I think that's too bad and we've talked about this every year at this time. I'd love to see that improve to get more of those leaders of faith talking about politics, coming on new day to talk about politics through that prism and not just when we want to have a clear topic about faith.

CAMEROTA: And so Father, you said before you were heartbroken about some of the divisiveness.


CAMEROTA: Is there any reason to be helpful today?

DWYER: Oh, absolutely. Well, for instance, there's a great reason to be hopeful today, Merry Christmas. We believe that it was essentially, forgive me, but it was a new dawn, it was a new day in the history of Christianity when Christ our Lord came among us and brought to us salvation. So salvation means that there's hope for everyone.

It can all be redeemed, whether it's literally, religiously or it's just like can we redeem our toxic and divisive culture, absolutely, I believe we can.


CAMEROTA: Thank you so much. Great to have this conversation with both of you, guys. Merry Christmas.

DWYER: Merry Christmas.

GREGORY: Merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: OK, up next, we'll visit a brother-sister duo who have helped inspire change all over the country.



CAMEROTA: Parkland, Florida, a city now best known for a school shooting. In the almost two years since 17 people were murdered at their high school, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have spearheaded a national conversation about school security and stopping gun violence.

Two of the people leading that charge, David and Lauren Hogg. They are brother and sister who survived the massacre by hiding in their classrooms. And they've become political and cultural forces, inspiring thousands of people including me. Here's my Champions For Change.



CAMEROTA: Another deadly school shooting. I am in Parkland, Florida, scene at the latest school shooting. This is the site of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook.

When I got the call that Parkland had happened, that there was yet another school shooting, my heart sank. I have kids that I send off to school every day and I know that they're no safer than the kids at Parkland were.

I flew down to Parkland. The next morning we were on the air first thing.

We're joined by two of the shooting survivors.

David Hogg was one of my first interviews. Something was different right away.

DAVID HOGG, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: No legislative action has been taken. All we have now is more guns and more chances for things to go wrong.

CAMEROTA: A senior at the time, he took cover in a classroom during the shooting and worried about his sister Lauren, a freshman.

He just gripped the whole country's attention.

D HOGG: Please take action.

CAMEROTA: He turned right to the camera. He was already beseeching leaders to jump into action with him.

D HOGG: You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. We're in it together. Come over your politics.

CAMEROTA: Even in the hours after they'd been through the most hideous tragedy imaginable, they were already trying to change the world.

Lauren, how are you feeling?

And I felt the same way when I met Lauren Hogg.

LAUREN HOGG, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Thinking about all of the victims and I just know there's a reason why I made it out that day and that reason has to be to make change.

CAMEROTA: The #NeverAgain propped up because they didn't want to ever have this happen again.

D HOGG: We say no more.

CAMEROTA: They've traveled around the country. They've met other survivors of gun violence. They got the laws changed in Florida. They're not letting the lawmakers forget it.

So what are we looking at here?

L HOGG: This is our installation. As I put up all of those hundreds of crosses, crescents and Stars of David, I thought of my friends last year. We wrote things like teacher, doctor to represent not only the people who are taken from gun violence, but are taken from society they are in. CAMEROTA: You wanted to get the attention of lawmakers.

L HOGG: That's why we did it here, because we wanted those people while they're walking in between breaks, when they're leaving work and know that their inaction is leading for our friends, our sisters, our brothers, our moms and dads to die every single day.

CROWD: Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

CAMEROTA: When you hit obstacles, how is it that you have been able to stay energized?

D HOGG: By looking back at the success that we have had. We focused on youth voter turnout and raising this voice, because we know that it's not Democrats or Republicans that can solve this issue as human beings had solved this issue.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a mother. I am a fighter and (inaudible) ...

CAMEROTA: Is it true that the Parkland students were your inspiration to run for office?

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Absolutely. I stood up and decided to run to flip for the federal seat after Parkland. I was devastated that here again we had children that were the same age as my son that were gunned down. It would be a tragedy if I didn't stand up and then I would be letting down my son and his legacy and every other family, every other victim that I have cried with over the last seven years since Jordan was murdered.

Each generation culturally has a cause, sitting at the lunch counters, walking out of classrooms, it's the same thing. This is the civil rights movement that these young people are fighting for.

D HOGG: Change is here.

We need a Congress that goes out there and talks about this issue and gives us a deadline of when they're going to actually like be able to stop gun violence.

CAMEROTA: David graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2018. He's taking a year off from his studies to focus on activism. And he plans to attend Harvard this fall.

L HOGG: I feel as though in the last year we have made an abundant amount of progress. Honestly, how young people really have realized their power is the thing that I find to be the most profound.

REBECCA HOGG, DAVID AND LAUREN HOGG'S MOTHER: They are changemakers. I see both of them really changing the conversation in this country, about gun violence, and then going forward and being leaders in our country. L HOGG: It's still hard for me to think of myself as an activist,

because honestly I never had that in mind when I started speaking out. I just was a kid who was upset that my friends were murdered in my school.

D HOGG: I also look ahead to the future. I mean, I just can't wait until we pass our first piece of federal legislation. It will all just be an incredibly impactful moment.

CAMEROTA: What's been your greatest achievement?

D HOGG: Now that we've shown that we can lead and we are leading together with other generations, I know that we can end this issue.

CAMEROTA: I'm just so impressed with these kids. All of us thought maybe this peter out, maybe they'll have to be busy with school, but they haven't given up. They're just as strong a year later. They just are as energized as the day that I first them.


CAMEROTA: They're inspiring. I mean, some people get paralyzed after something so painful and so much grief and they didn't.

BERMAN: And they're not about to give up. But I think that's the thing. I mean, this has inspired them. And I think we all need to remember that they're dealing with grief still while they're seeking this change, while they're being activists. It's not they can separate the two, it's always with them.

CAMEROTA: And they were teenagers.


CAMEROTA: I mean, they were kids. They shouldn't have to have dealt with all of this stuff, but as I pointed out, I mean they just swung into action. There wasn't a second where they thought we're going to just first attend to our grief and then we'll figure out what to do to help the country. They swung into action.

BERMAN: Well, it's a wonderful profile. We're so lucky that you went and talk to them again.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So it has been a frenzied months/years/many years in Washington and the political drama will certainly not let up in the next few weeks. Our special Christmas Day edition of NEW DAY continues right after this.