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Family Is Most Important Q. My husband and I are frustrated about our family's relationships during the holidays. For many years, we have hosted the holidays and been in charge of the details. We have done our best. We are a large family, and every year there has been a …Read more. Holiday Challenges Calling Q. Organizing, planning and getting families together for the holidays are always challenging in our family. This year, major changes have also become realities in our lives. We have become an extended stepfamily, which also includes four young …Read more. Long-Distance Relationship Winners! Q. I recently lost my husband. I have found a suitable companion, but he lives 66 miles from me. We are both in our 60s. To be with each other we take turns driving, riding the train or hopping a bus once a month to visit for a few days. We also …Read more. Update Your 2015 Goals! Q. Although the year is over, we are considering our 2015 goals. Both my wife and I are in our seventies. We are in reasonably good health, have somewhat of a dysfunctional family, have worked hard, and have saved what we hope will be enough money …Read more.
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Security "Heads Up!"

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Q. I am an elderly widow and live alone in a large house and fearful that my surroundings are not as secure as they should be. I often wake up when I hear a strange noise. What might help calm me down?

A. I understand, and here are some suggestions that may prove helpful. Install a security system and make certain you stake a highly visible security company's warning sign. Secure sliding glass doors and windows with wooden dowels in the moving slots that will only allow a couple of inches to open. Make sure all entrances are well lit. Motion-sensing lights are important additions. Keep bushes, shrubs and trees trimmed to make your home more visable. When you use valet parking, have your car repaired or other services, separate the one key needed by the service person from your ring and keep the other keys. Make sure your house number is prominently displayed should you need to make a 911 call for help and quicker response. Know and stay in contact with your neighbors and keep them informed as to your activities or vacation plans, and ask them to pick up unwanted flyers and trash thrown on your driveway when you're out of town. Offer to do the same for them. Share a copy of your families' phone numbers in the event of a fire, natural disaster, a stranger scouting the neighborhood or a parked car sitting at your curb that does not seem to be appropriate. There is no way to assure that thieves will not try to gain access to your home.

Being aware of that, be especially watchful and alert during the holiday months when they are in greater need. Last week l accidently forgot to lock my car while grocery shopping, and a thief got my cellphone! Activating security precautions is worth your time and effort! — BETTY

LUCKY GRANDPARENTS!

Q. We are the parents of two daughters whose ages are 3 and 6. All four grandparents are alive. We struggle to find appropriate holiday gifts for them. They all have their "stuff" and do not really need more things. What can we do?

A. Homemade and creative gifts are what all grandparents love and are most wanted! Some ideas that may work are to purchase an empty pillbox and fill it with jellybeans. White ceramic coffee cups are available at the dollar stores. Assist the kids in drawing pictures or love notes for the grandparents using ceramic paint. You can also create a gift by using white paper plates and crayons. How about gifting a greeting card that includes a come-along meal at a restaurant or an invitation to visit a zoo or park. In today's world, it seems most photos are shot with digital cameras, but very few are actually printed out. This means grandparents' "bragging" photo albums have become big-time winning gifts. Hopefully, these thoughts may prove to serve your purposes! — DOUG

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California Retirement community. Contact him at deardoug@msn.com. Betty is an associate of Doug Mayberry, whom she helps with this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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