Q: I am an elderly widow and live alone in a large house. I'm fearful that my surroundings are not so 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 might 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 visible. When you use valet parking or have your car repaired, 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. Know and stay in contact with your neighbors, and keep them informed as to your activities and vacation plans, and ask them to pick up unwanted fliers and trash thrown on your driveway when you're out of town. Offer to do the same for them. Share your family's phone numbers in case there's a fire, a 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 ensure 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. Recently, l forgot to lock my car while grocery shopping, and a thief got my cellphone. Activating security precautions is worth your time and effort.
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 our parents. 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. One idea is to purchase an empty pillbox and fill it with jelly beans. White ceramic coffee cups are available at the dollar stores; assist the kids in drawing pictures or writing 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, 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. I hope those thoughts prove to serve your purposes.
Doug Mayberry's weekly column, "Dear Doug," can be found at creators.com.