It’s December, and the holiday season is now in full swing. No matter your religion, you can’t help but get swept up in the warmth of freshly kindled fireplaces and people’s smiles. The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on what you have and then look forward to how you can improve in the new year. I just returned from a 2-week sabbatical by the sea where I reflected upon the years, new and old, as I prepared for the days to grow darker earlier. I do not dread the weaning light; instead, I welcome it. I await the winter solstice with eager anticipation as it brings with it the smells of damp earth, fresh oranges, ginger, and of course, plenty of cinnamon. I can already see the circles of friends gathering under shinning stars or warm, flickering candle light to tell stories of the past year and hopes for the future one. As you reflect and connect to your deeper self, allow those who you have found at your side to join you on your journey of self-examination. Together you can wait for the returning light and the new refreshing energy it brings. How will this new year look different from the last, and how will it be a continuation of the past? I want to encourage you this holiday season to slow down and connect with yourself, your friends, and your family in novel and refreshing ways. Start a new tradition or dig a little deeper into the history of an old one. MONTHLY MOMENTS Bettina’s –Bettina Neumann
WelcomeHome! N avigating W inter B reak W ith Y our C ollege K id
Thanksgiving break was just a test; now you have a whole month with your college kid! It’s exciting when your child returns home for winter break, but you have to be prepared. This isn’t the same teen you dropped off this summer. They’ve had new experiences, been thrown into awkward situations, and fended for themselves for months. One thing will never change, though: They will always be your kid. They’re the same person who grew up causing a ruckus in your home, teasing their younger siblings, and laughing their way through plenty of family memories. If you’re worried about your college-aged kiddo returning home, remember these tips for a stress-free winter break. ‘MOM, I’M AN ADULT NOW…WHAT’S FOR DINNER?’ Thanksgiving break wasn’t enough time for you to experience the intricacies of a relationship with your newly independent kid. When they come home this winter, they may push against any rules you have in place. In contrast, they’re also going to soak up all the wonders of home that they missed, like meals, cable TV, and a familiar bed. When your kid first comes home for the month, celebrate the successful semester! Then set some guidelines. Will there be a curfew? Will they be expected to feed and clothe themselves? Is their room still theirs or is it now your home gym? Can they drink or smoke at home? Whatever works for your family is fine, but if you don’t establish some ground rules right away, you’re in for a few tumultuous weeks.
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‘SEE YOU LATER!’
Remember, college can be a breeding ground for mistakes and independence. Even if they’re not of age, your student may have experimented with alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors. If this is not something you’re comfortable with in your home, you don’t have to let it happen. As with all your house rules, you must be open and honest about what your boundaries are. ‘IT’S NOT A PHASE, DAD!’ Is your kiddo rocking a new ‘do, professing different political beliefs, or into some really weird food? Roll with it. The new experiences of college come with new perspectives. Your child may still be figuring out who they are. Or this “new” person may be becoming who they were always meant to be. But every change in your child is not worth a freakout! Just because they lost touch with their religion or are wearing their hair differently doesn’t mean they’re not the child you raised and love.
You might feel like you’re being pushed to the bottom of your kid’s priority list this winter break as they catch up with friends, extended family, and their hometown jobs. Don’t take this too personally. Instead, create some family time. Spend a weekend at a cabin or designate Sundays as family days. It might feel like high school all over again —when you forced them to spend time with you — but your maturing child may surprise you. They might actually want to be with you after being away for so long. By scheduling time with them, you can let them go off with their friends guilt-free! Having all your kids under one roof, even for a short period of time, is exciting for your family. Make it fun, be honest, and most of all, enjoy it while it lasts. They’ll be back at school before you know it.
and the lighting of the menorah candles comes from the story of a miracle that happened during the rebellion, when a one-day supply of oil burned for eight days in a temple. DIWALI Though celebrated in late fall, Diwali is a Hindu holiday that’s known as the festival of lights. Its main purpose is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and the five-day festival includes the lighting of candles or lamps, feasting, and giving gifts to family and friends. Diwali also celebrates the Hindu new year and is the largest, most widely celebrated festival in India. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but educating your children about holiday practices other than Christmas will give them a broader worldview and inspire them to gain further knowledge about cultures outside their own. Your local library is a great resource for children’s literature on these holidays, and there are also TV programs from PBS that feature episodes on these traditions. Enjoy the winter holiday season, however you decide to celebrate! MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATIONS Teach Your Kids About Winter Holidays
According to the Pew Research Center, Christmas is the most celebrated December holiday in the U.S. Yet, like the melting pot it is, the U.S. contains many cultures from across the globe, each with their own traditions. Teach your kids about some of the holiday celebrations from different cultures this season. KWANZAA Created in 1966 by black studies professor Maulana Karenga during the Black Nationalist Movement, Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration and reflection period for African Americans. The week offers African Americans the opportunity to connect with African culture and history by celebrating the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, and creativity. HANUKKAH Hanukkah pays homage to a two-year Jewish rebellion against an oppressive Greek-Syrian government that took them captive in an attempt to eliminate Judaism. The tradition of the eight-day celebration
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5 COMMON FINANCIAL STRUGGLES FOR SENIORS
Whether You’re Retired or Not
Planning for and navigating retirement is the most pressing financial concern for older adults. While understanding how to budget and spend as you approach and enter retirement is crucial, it’s far from the only issue that seniors face. Last year, a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) investigated the most commonly reported complaints the organization had received from adults age 62 and older. Aside from retirement savings, here are the five major issues reported by seniors. DEBT The number of seniors and retirees with debt is at an all-time high. Many seniors carry excessive debt in order to ease the burden on their children and grandchildren. Some still have student debt from their college years or other outstanding loans. Others turn to credit cards to defray a surprise cost like a medical emergency. If you’re in danger of falling behind on payments, contact your lenders before opening a new credit account. REVERSE MORTGAGES Many seniors have reverse mortgages, which allow them to buy into home equity provided they repay it when the property is sold. In this mortgage structure, however, people still need to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. These mortgages can end up being a trap for seniors, which is why Jean Setzfand, a senior vice president at AARP, refers to them as a last resort.
SCAMS AND IDENTITY THEFT
Sadly, many identity thieves and cybercriminals target the elderly. While your credit report can be corrected after such an event, many seniors are unequipped to deal with the process. The best defense is to check your statements often to ensure that any foul behavior is caught as early as possible. CONFUSION REGARDING FEES Many seniors reported charges they didn’t understand to the CFPB. Often, they were signed up for subscriptions they didn’t use or weren’t sure how interest was being calculated. As with identity theft, monitoring your statements for unusual charges is the best way to avoid this source of stress. LOSS OF A SPOUSE The loss of a spouse presents challenges much greater than the financial burden, but that is often a major part of navigating the death of your partner. Accessing bank accounts and other assets can prove difficult, especially if it was the deceased who primarily managed the finances. Working with a financial planner or elder law attorney can help make this process less daunting.
Take a Break!
Whether or not you have an open fire, you can easily roast some chestnuts using this simple, delicious recipe.
2 pounds fresh chestnuts, unpeeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
2–3 sprigs rosemary
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 450 F. 2. Place a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. 3. On a large, flat workspace, place chestnuts flat side down. Using a sharp knife, carve an X on the rounded side of each chestnut. 4. In a large bowl of hot water, soak chestnuts for 1 minute. 5. Pat dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add rosemary, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss to coat and transfer to baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Gather the edges of the foil together, leaving an opening at the top.
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6. Roast until peels curl up, about 30–45 minutes. 7. Transfer to a platter and serve while hot or warm.
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE Bettina’s Monthly Moments PAGE 1 The Kids Are Finally Coming Home PAGE 1 Teach Your Kids About Holidays PAGE 2 Financial Struggles Older Adults Face PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Buttery Roasted Chestnuts PAGE 3 How to Slip and Fall the Right Way PAGE 4
SLIPPING AND FALLING When You Can’t Stop the Fall, Roll With It
KNOWING HOW TO FALL
Slick roads and icy sidewalks become part of the landscape every winter, and every year the risk of falling is very real. For many people, avoiding a fall can be difficult enough without ice coating every walkable surface. Young or old, here are a few ways you can stay on your feet this month. IF THE BOOT FITS The correct footwear can save you from a nasty tumble or heart-stopping slip. Finding boots that are specifically designed to keep
you steady on a slippery surface is a must. It’s also a great idea to buy waterproof footwear to keep your feet warm and dry in the snow. Ice cleats can be helpful as well; they slip over your regular shoes and give you the added grip you need. If you don’t want to wear your winter boots anywhere but outside, bring an extra set of shoes with you so that you can switch once indoors. ONE STEP AT A TIME It’s important to move cautiously when you’re on an icy sidewalk. Make sure to keep your feet flat while you’re walking and your hands out of your pockets, which will help you balance should you start to slip. It also helps to spread your weight out evenly by not walking with your feet close together. Try not to be distracted when you’re walking on ice — keep your eyes forward and make sure you know where you’re placing your feet.
Unfortunately, even with all the precautions in the world, falls still happen. While no one has invented a way to trip and fall gracefully, there are a few ways you can avoid a serious injury when it does happen. If you find yourself starting to fall, lean forward to help prevent a direct impact to your spine or the back of your head. Try to roll with it, or, if you’re falling backward, try to land on your bottom. Also, try not to catch your full weight with your arms or hands, as that can lead to broken arms or wrists. If you do slip and fall this winter, it’s important to address your injury. It’s better to seek out medical attention than ignore the problem, which can only get worse the longer you put it off.
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