Culpeper Times • January 3-9, 2019
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Struggling with the Holidays PARDOE’S PERSPECTIVE
In this season where the politically correct are whining about “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” I have not been able to weigh in on the ridiculousness of such idiocy. Just after Thanksgiving, my mother passed away after a three year battle with Ovarian Cancer. I learned a lot going through this experience, things I never planned on having to deal with. I also learned a lot about what is really important in life. So in this season when we assemble with family to celebrate Christmas and the holidays, I thought I would share some things to consider. When we met with my mother’s attorney, she was telling us how busy she was during this season. “Visiting family members start to notice things might not be right with a loved one. They find the milk in the sock drawer and their parents’ underwear in the freezer. That can be a clue it may be time
to get some things in order.” My mother had arranged her financial affairs with a trust which, as it turns out, was brilliant. No one likes talking about these kinds of things, but since my father’s passing five years ago, I kept tabs on what my mom was investing in – where the bank accounts were, etc. She asked for my help and it proved invaluable. Most importantly, the trust allowed me to manage her assets without going through costly probate proceedings. It is important for anyone over 55 to talk to someone who specializes in retirement law just to make sure your loved ones are not unable to resolve your affairs immediately after your death. Take the time to prepare while you can. I learned the importance of having a family member on things like telephones, utilities, car insurance, etc. My mom didn’t do this and we never thought about it until her passing. Just trying to shut off her high speed internet and cell phone service took over an hour and several visits with AT&T simply because my name was not on the account so technically, I couldn’t just shut it off. It makes
perfect sense, but if my name had been on these kinds of accounts, the time and hassle I could have avoided would have been considerable. When you are with your family this holiday season, it is a good time to get things like this put into place. One thing I learned is how important nurses and other professional caregivers are. Hospitals tend to be impersonal, but hospice is all about comfort and the patient. My daughter is a RN, but I did not fully appreciate it until I spent days at a time with nurses tending to my mother. Doctors are great – but nurses are divine angels who are tough as granite and compassionate beyond compare. I came to realize that my own job paled with what they deal with on a daily basis. While these kinds of things were important, what I really learned was that the holidays are really about family. We all say it, but I got the rare chance to live it. When my mother was in hospice, we were with her the entire time. We didn’t spend a lot of time crying as much as we were telling great stories and
getting to know each other. On Thanksgiving Eve, the entire family camped out in the room with her for the night. We were all there, all giving the love we felt for her. For Thanksgiving, we got Chinese food and ate in her room. We were laughing so much that the nurses came in and had to ask us to be quiet. It was the worst and best Thanksgiving I have ever had. There was no television, no big meal, nobody upset over a football game or political discussion. It was just us being together with mom, staying positive and supporting her and each other. I can’t remember any other Thanksgiving in my life in detail, but I will ALWAYS remember this one. Our family came together as we never have before, and in many ways that was mom’s last gift to us all. While I struggle to engage with Christmas this year – I find myself remembering those wonderful and warm conversations and sharing we all had together. That is what the holidays is about, not the food, not the gifts, not the decorations. I wish you all a warm and wonderful holiday with your loved ones.
Gifts that give, until they don’t “What a beautiful pair of Donald Duck socks from Aunt Gertrude,“ says no one I’ve ever heard. But that doesn’t stop those socks selling as gifts every Christmas. Returning gifts after Christmas becomes less a chore and more a war inside stores and with online sites. They’re ways to manage a return so that both the customer and the merchant part friends. The BBB serving Central Virginia has some background information and tips that though commonsense are good for folks to review before
BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
Barry N. Moore
they launch into the buying or the gift return mode. With a few exceptions, such as a defective item, merchants aren’t universally obligated to accept returns or make exchanges. They can set their own return policies; even change them to reflect the higher than normal fraudulent returns that many consumers try. A few stats: The National Retail Federation estimates 5% or more of returns during the 2018 holiday season are going to be fraudulent. Impact? Fraud returns costs retailers nearly $10 billion annually, and consumers end up footing the bill by having to pay higher prices and sometimes enduring more of a hassle when trying to return or
exchange an item. Types of fraud include returning stolen merchandise or merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, employee theft or collusion with third parties, and returning nondefective merchandize like clothing after using it once. How can a consumer return an item with as little fuss and muss as possible? Understand the return policy before the purchase including how long do you have to return the item, does the merchant issue a store credit, is there a restocking fee, and if the item is to be a gift will credit be issued to the giver or the receiver? • Don’t take the item out of the box or shrink-wrap if you know you’re going to return it.
• Leave tags on clothes until sure you’re going to keep them. • Hang on to sales and gift receipts. • Be prepared to show the merchant a valid ID. • Be ready to accept a store credit, particularly if you don’t have a receipt. Lastly, but so very importantly, check with the BBB to ensure the merchant has a good reputation and no unresolved complaints with its return policy. Do these things and it will make returning those ugly socks much easier on both the consumer and the business. Barry N. Moore is the President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Virginia.
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