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DECEMBER 2019 | VOL. 10, ISSUE 12

Traditions featuring Christmas Tree Farms: Carrying on the Family Tradition

Hidden Hometown Heroes: The Santa Claus of Sanford

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Festive Holiday Cupcakes: Recipes to Celebrate the Season DECEMBER 2019 | 1



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features CONTENTS

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HIDDEN HOMETOWN HEROES: The Santa Claus of Sanford




FAITH AFTER FIFTY : Spirituality Later in Life


ONC BOOK CLUB: Beneath a Scarlet Sky


56 | DECEMBER 2019

CHRISTMAS TREE FARMS: Family, Fun, and Fa-la-la-la-la THE WAY FORWARD: Hope and Healing in America's Opioid Epidemic

FESTIVE HOLIDAY CUPCAKES: Recipes to Celebrate the Season

DECEMBER 2019 | 5

departments 14

10 12 14 16 18 20

ASK THE EXPERT: 'Tis the season to give... away? Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA HEALTH COACHING: Simplify Your Holiday Season Marcy Simpson, LCSW COOKING SIMPLE: Swedish Christmas Bread Eric Christenson

LAW REVIEW: Comprehensive Power of Attorney Margaret (Mia) Lorenz, Attorney EAT RIGHT: Tips for a Lightened-up Holiday Season Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN


DRIVIN' FOR LUNCH: Thinking About Dessert First Ray Linville | DECEMBER 2019


22 24 62 65 66

VETERANS CORNER: Fully Developed Claims Jim Pedersen

BRAIN HEALTH: Preventing & Beating Holiday Blues Jenna Renfroe, Ph.D, ABPP GREY MATTER PUZZLES Crossword, Word Search, Sudoku OVER MY SHOULDER: Traditions Grow & Change Ann Robson GENERATIONS QUESTION: What's a holiday tradition you want to keep going?

Our hearts grew tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. Laura Ingalls Wilder

DECEMBER 2019 | 7

from the editor

It’s that time of year: the holiday season is in full swing and traditions abound. Christmas trees are now fully decorated and dripping in glitter and lights. Stockings have been hung, and pantries, cupboards and freezers are stocked for holiday meals, parties and batches of baked goods. It’s truly a magical time of year. The word I always associate with December is There is so much hope surrounding the holidays, when everything has a certain shine, literal or otherwise. It’s as if life is viewed through poinsettiacolored glasses, and humanity comes together to share in each other’s celebrations and also each other’s trials. We reach out, extend hands and sit closer together whether it’s in a church pew or at a dinner table. The year is closing, and we feel the finality of that statement and the expectation of another year around the corner, coming fast and hard but still not yet here, still waiting in the wings.


As we close out 2019, we explore this idea of hope from many angles. Jonathan Scott looks at the concept of faith in our later years, when many people’s faith transforms as perspective shifts with the natural transitions of life (p. 36). Crissy Neville takes us into the workshop of toymaker Jim Annis of Sanford, who crafts and donates handmade toys for Christmas joy (p. 28) and takes us to family-owned Christmas tree farms here in North Carolina, where families can choose their own Blue Ice, Norway Spruce or even a Fraser Fir (p. 42). We also explore hope and healing in our final piece on the opioid crisis, understanding what to do next as we combat this epidemic (p. 48).

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Ray Linville takes us Drivin’ For Lunch at Mrs. Lacy’s Magnolia House in Sanford (p. 20), which is now on my immediate to-do list, and which will no doubt include a breaking of my no-gluten policy. If ever there was a hopeful way to end the year, this just might be it. Finally, all of us here in the ONC cottage extend our thanks for you, our readers. Your comments, suggestions, feedback and support have made 2019 a record year. We’ve tackled subjects at your request that ended up changing our own perspectives, and as we all know, changing perspectives changes lives. We appreciate every letter, phone call, email, social media post and comment made in coffee shops, over lunches and hustling across parking lots as we’ve made our way throughout our beloved communities. My favorite quote on hope is from Barbara Kingsolver who wrote,

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” If there is a tradition to continue and carry forward into our next year, let hopefulness be it.

Publisher Amy Natt | Advertising Sales Executive Kara Umphlett |

Editor-in-Chief Amy Phariss | Creative Director & Designer Sarah McElroy | Coalfeather Art and Design Ad Designers Stephanie Budd, Cyndi Fifield, Sarah McElroy Proofreaders Abegail Murphy, Margaret Phariss, Kate Pomplun Photography Diana Matthews Contributors Laura Buxenbaum, Eric Christenson, Ray Linville, Margaret (Mia) Lorenz, Amy Natt, Crissy Neville, Jim Pedersen, Amy Phariss, Jenna Renfroe, Ann Robson, Jonathan Scott, Marcy Simpson

Marketing & Public Relations Director Susan McKenzie | Circulation 910-692-0683 | OutreachNC PO Box 2478 | 676 NW Broad Street Southern Pines, NC 28388 910-692-0683 Office | 910-695-0766 Fax | OutreachNC is a publication of The entire contents of OutreachNC are copyrighted by Aging Outreach Services. Reproduction or use without permission of editorial, photographic or graphic content in any manner is prohibited. OutreachNC is published monthly on the first of each month.

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'Tis the Season to Give... Away? by Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

My grandmother recently moved into a facility, and I have been helping my mom go through her belongings. There is so much stuff, and we just don’t know what to do with all of it. We hate to throw it away, but some of it has little to no value. Do you have any suggestions?



Letting go of things that have emotional ties can be very difficult. When you are sorting through a lifetime of memories, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. My first suggestion would be to make sure your grandmother has everything she will need in the facility. Take into consideration clothing and bedding for each season and plan to store anything you think she may need. After the first year, you can discard items that were not used. Now that she is in a facility and likely experiencing health issues, her weight may fluctuate, | DECEMBER 2019

so keeping a couple sizes in her more comfortable clothing might be a good idea as well. Once you are sure she has everything she will need, then you and your mom can select items that carry the most value to you. If there are other family members or close family friends, they may also like to have something to remember your grandmother. Once you have the items that you or your family plan to keep, you can come up with a plan to tackle the remaining items. Do you have a set timeframe? I would suggest creating one, so you have

a goal to work toward. You don’t want the project to be ongoing. You will need closure at some point. Pick a completion date and try to stick to it. I would suggest coming up with a plan to tackle so many rooms a day. You might want to set up bins to sort things. Any personal papers or items that might be needed for tax returns, estate planning etc. can be placed in one bin. You can also have a bin for things that will need to be shredded. If you are not sure what can be kept or shredded, talk to her attorney and tax professional. They can give you some guidance on what might be needed. After you have sorted all the personal papers, you can come up with a plan for the remaining items. This is likely furniture, kitchen items, décor and clothing. Some items may be easy to discard, so have a place designated for those. You can rent a dumpster if you think you have enough to fill it. Otherwise get some contractor-size trash bags and a few cans to have on hand. There are companies and services that will come into homes and purchase items, hold tag sales and even clean and discard remaining items. If it becomes overwhelming, you might consider hiring one of these services. The things that cannot be sold can always be donated, and the reality is, some things will just get discarded. If it is too emotional for you to do that, perhaps letting someone else finish those last steps would be a good alternative. You have your grandmother and the memories made in her home. Letting the stuff go will be easier as time goes on, but it is a process. Try to let the guilt go; it’s part of the process, too. Many items were a part of her life but you are not obligated to keep them forever. Sometimes less is more, so prioritize what is important and let the rest go. If you find yourself getting caught up in reading every card and letter she ever saved, it might be time to take a break and come back. Remember you can scan and save things to avoid keeping mounds of paper; it’s also a good way to share family photos or preserve them. Create your plan, stick to a timeline, have a system and just keep working through it! If all else fails, take what you want and call in reinforcements to handle the rest. You can do this. Readers may send questions to Amy Natt, an Aging Life Care ProfessionalTM, certified senior advisor and CEO of Aging Outreach Services. She can be reached at .

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healthSimplify Your Holiday Season H E A LT H C O A C H I N G

by Marcy Simpson, LCSW about “how” it will look? Planning can be a source What comes to mind when you think of the word of stress for some who work best with less structure; “celebration”? I think of special food, music, decorations, however, some thought process is needed if others are and even colors that are associated with the event. Of course, involved. Also, that top will be spinning if there has been there is an activity planned to mark the important occasion, a breakdown in communication with others and you find typically it is a social event. While a celebration is meant to yourself at the right place, but the wrong time. be pleasurable, it can often create stress that can negatively impact our overall health for several reasons. Think of the • Exercise Restraint – This can have a negative old-fashioned spinning top and how easily it could whirl connotation, as we take the approach that holidays only come around once a year and we don’t want to out of your hand and across the floor; what can we do miss out on anything. However, consider the to stop our holiday season from getting out of consequences if our behaviors aren’t kept control? within reasonable limits. According to • Adjust Expectations - How many of us the American Psychological Association, have a certain way we like to decorate, 72% of Americans report that money is a or special foods we like to eat at annual significant source of stress. Consider your holiday meals? How about the gift list budget before you start shopping – make for all of those adorable grandchildren, a list and tally expenses. The total might pets, and co-workers? It takes time and surprise you! The same can be said for our energy to adorn our homes and businesses, eating (and sometimes drinking) patterns over the shop for gifts, or prepare the mouth-watering holidays. treats that family and friends come to expect. And we The connection between stress and illness is real. Taking haven’t even addressed the expectation of being “happy” care of yourself allows you to have more energy for others. just because it’s the holiday season. We often put undue The very definition of stress is mental or emotional strain pressure on ourselves because we believe we should do from adverse or demanding circumstances. If we decide something or feel a certain way. This emotional strain that we can stop the top from careening wildly by setting can negatively impact our health. For example, our decorating endeavors can spin out of control if they aren’t some limits, then we can look at this special season with anticipation. in sync with our talent and resources. Sometimes just a slight change in our attitude will keep our budget on track, achieve desired results, and we might even be in a Marcy Simpson, LCSW, is a Health better mood to boot! Coach at Pinehurst Medical Clinic in Pinehurst and Sanford. She can • Plan/Communicate Effectively – Now that we’ve decided be reached at 910-235-3347 or we are going to celebrate a specific event, have we thought

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by Eric Christenson

Nothing brings Christmas through the generations to our family’s Christmas mornings more than thin slices of Christmas bread—Jule kaka—lightly toasted and buttered. Our niece in San Francisco bakes it, and the recipe in my mother’s hand adorns a shelf in our daughter’s kitchen in Seven Lakes, ready for the season. My Swedish grandfather settled in Denver and opened his bakery in the early 20th century. His recipe for Jule kaka, with its intoxicatingly fragrant, freshly ground cardamom, warmed our holidays throughout my childhood and even today. Preparing the dough is straightforward, either for oven or bread machine. My father explained that the magic is in the cardamom seeds, properly prepared. In my early teens, he engaged me in the annual ritual of grinding the exotic spice. INGREDIENTS: • 1 cup milk • 4 tbs. softened butter • 1 egg • ¼ cup sugar • 1 tsp. salt • 1 tsp. ground seeds from 20 pods of green cardamom

• 3 cups bread flour • 2½ tsp. yeast, dissolved well in a little water • 2/3 cup raisins • 2/3 cup sliced candied citron or fruit— or healthful alternatives: dried apricots, currants, and cherries. • 2 tbs. chopped almonds

DIRECTIONS FOR USING BREAD MACHINES: Place the first eight ingredients, milk through yeast, in the machine; let it mix and knead for a few minutes, and then add the remaining three. DIRECTIONS FOR USING A MIXER WITH A DOUGH HOOK: Knead all ingredients until the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean, about two minutes. Do not over-knead. Place the kneaded dough into a greased bowl, turn it over, and cover to let it rise until doubled—at least an hour. Then turn the dough onto a floured surface, punch it down, allow it to rest a few minutes, and knead lightly until it’s plastic. Divide into two loaves, place them into greased loaf pans, grease the tops of the loaves, cover, and let them rise for another hour or more. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Turn the loaves out to cool on racks.

14 | DECEMBER 2019

Commercially ground cardamom will do if doubled. Cardamom pods are available online and in markets specializing in Indian foods and spices. Slice off the ends of the pods and squeeze them to let the seeds fall into a mortar. Grind the seeds with the pestle to a fine powder. From the oven and then on Christmas morning from the toaster, that familiar bouquet, with its slightly nutty, aromatic hint of fennel, perfumes the season.



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10 Reasons to Execute a Comprehensive Power of Attorney by Margaret (Mia) Lorenz, Attorney

The benefits of a comprehensive power of attorney are numerous. Let’s start our conversation and discussion by understanding some of the basic terminology. The agent under a power of attorney has traditionally been called an “attorney-in-fact” or sometimes just “attorney.” However, confusion over these terms has encouraged the terminology to change, so more recent state statutes tend to use the label “agent” for the person receiving power by the document. Be careful when considering whom to appoint; the agent must be trustworthy and capable of fulfilling the highest selfless duties of loyalty to you and performing actions that are only in your best interest and in keeping with your known objectives. I have written about financial exploitation of individuals, particularly seniors and other vulnerable people, by people who take advantage of them through undue influence, identity theft and the like. Prior articles have addressed guardianships and discussed the implementation of court supervision of vulnerable people in such contexts. Even though exploitation risks exist, there are great benefits to an individual (the principal) empowering another person (the agent) to act on the principal’s behalf to perform certain functions. Additionally, one may execute a separate health care power of attorney, which grants powers to an agent to represent and advocate for the principal in regard to health care decisions. With a little help from my ElderCounsel© resource, here are the top TEN reasons to consider executing both a general and health care power of attorney:

16 | DECEMBER 2019

1. Provides the ability to choose who will make decisions for you (rather than a court). If someone has signed a power of attorney and later becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions, the agent named can step into the shoes of the incapacitated person and make important financial decisions. Without a power of attorney, a guardianship may need to be established. 2. Avoids the necessity of a guardianship or conservatorship. Someone who does not have a comprehensive power of attorney at the time they become incapacitated would have no alternative than to have someone else petition the court to appoint a guardian. The court will choose who is appointed to manage the financial and/or health affairs of the incapacitated person, and the court will continue to monitor the situation as long as the incapacitated person is alive. While not only a costly process, another detriment is the fact that the incapacitated person has limited to no input on who will be appointed to serve. 3. Provides family members a good opportunity to discuss wishes and desires. There is much thought and consideration that goes into the creation of a comprehensive power of attorney. One of the most important decisions is who will serve as the agent. When a parent or loved one makes the decision to sign a power of attorney, it is a good opportunity for the parent to discuss wishes and expectations with the family and, in particular, the person named as agent in the power of attorney.

4. The more comprehensive the power of attorney, the better. As people age, their needs change and their power of attorney should reflect that. Seniors have concerns about long-term care, applying for government benefits to pay for care, as well as choosing the proper care providers. Without allowing the agent to perform these tasks and more, precious time and money may be wasted. 5. Prevents questions about principal’s intent. Many of us have read about court battles over a person’s intent once that person has become incapacitated. A well-drafted power of attorney, along with other health care directives, can eliminate the need for family members to argue or disagree over a loved one’s wishes. Once written down, this document is excellent evidence of their intent and is difficult to dispute. 6. Prevents delays in asset protection planning. A comprehensive power of attorney should include all of the powers required to do effective asset protection planning. If the power of attorney does not include a specific power, it can greatly dampen the agent’s ability to complete the planning and could result in thousands of dollars lost. While some powers of attorney seem long, it is necessary to include all of the powers necessary to carry out proper planning. 7. Protects the agent from claims of financial abuse. Comprehensive powers of attorney often allow the agent to make substantial gifts to self or others in order to carry out asset protection planning objectives. Without the power of attorney authorizing this, the agent (often a family member) could be at risk for financial abuse allegations. 8. Allows agents to talk to other agencies. An agent under a power of attorney is often in the position of trying to reconcile bank charges, make arrangements for health care, engage professionals for services to be provided to the principal, and much more. Without a comprehensive power of attorney giving authority to the agent, many companies will refuse to disclose any information or provide services to the incapacitated person. This can result in a great deal of frustration on the part of the family, as well as lost time and money. 9. Allows an agent to perform planning and transactions to make the principal eligible for public benefits. One could argue that transferring assets from the principal to others in order to make the principal eligible for public

benefits--Medicaid and/or non-service-connected Veterans Administration benefits--is not in the best interests of the principal, but rather in the best interests of the transferees. In fact, one reason that a comprehensive durable power of attorney is essential in elder law is that a judge may not be willing to authorize a guardian to protect assets for others while enhancing the ward/protected person’s eligibility for public benefits. However, that may have been the wish of the incapacitated person and one that would remain unfulfilled if a power of attorney were not in place. 10. Provides immediate access to critical assets. A well-crafted power of attorney includes provisions that allow the agent to access critical assets, such as the principal’s digital assets or safety deposit box, to continue to pay bills, access funds, etc. in a timely manner. Absent these provisions, court approval will be required before anyone can access these assets. Digital assets are also important because older powers of attorney did not address digital assets, yet more and more individuals have digital accounts. 11. Provides peace of mind for everyone involved. Taking the time to sign a power of attorney lessens the burden on family members who would otherwise have to go to court to get authority for performing basic tasks, like writing a check or arranging for home health services. Knowing this has been taken care of in advance is of great comfort to families and loved ones. Conclusion Nobody has a crystal ball; nobody can predict exactly which powers will be needed in the future. The planning goal is to have a power of attorney in place that empowers a succession of trustworthy agents to do whatever needs to be done in the future. Consider discussing the benefits of powers of attorney with your trusted attorney and counselor at law.

Margaret (Mia) Lorenz is an attorney in Southern Pines at Lorenz and Creed Law Firm PLLC, where she helps people with many legal needs such as preparing their wills and/or trusts, helping when a loved one dies, and helping purchase or sell real estate. She has been assisting people with their legal needs for 26 years.

DECEMBER 2019 | 17



Holiday Lights: Tips for a Lightened-up Holiday Season by Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN

This season, many people will receive a gift that is difficult to return - holiday weight gain. In fact, a 2017 research study in the Journal of Obesity found that a combination of changes in lifestyle cause the average American to gain more than 1 ½ pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While this may not sound like much, it can add up over time. Blaming the additional pounds on grandma’s holiday goodies would be an easy answer, but it’s not that simple. The culprit is a combination of several choices throughout the holidays. The good news is you don’t have to accept the gift of weight gain this year. Follow these THREE EASY TIPS to help you be light for the holidays and shine bright in 2020.


The first tip is to lighten your stress this holiday season. It’s no surprise that research shows we are more likely to eat extra calories and store more fat when we are stressed than when we are relaxed. When it comes to holiday entertaining, stress is hard to escape. A no-cook, hassle-free choice for the host and a wow factor for guests is a cheese board served with a variety of whole grain crackers, fresh and dried fruit, nuts and of course, your favorite cheeses. A cheese board is a great way to appeal to a variety of palettes. Whether your guests are vegetarian, lactose intolerant or just picky, cheese pleases everyone. Cheese’s high-quality protein will satisfy hungry appetites and the variety of flavors and textures will delight even the pickiest of eaters. Did you know that natural cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss are naturally low in lactose?


Stay light by choosing to eat more plant-based foods that won’t weigh you down. One of the best ways to ensure that you are staying on track during the holidays is to design your plate after the Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with lean protein and the other quarter with whole grains. And don’t forget the dairy! Dairy foods are packed with high-quality protein, which helps curb hunger and provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and light throughout the holidays. 18 | DECEMBER 2019

The Dairy Alliance’s Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday table. It is made with low-fat yogurt, which provides probiotics that can help boost your immunity during the draining holiday season. Pair it with antioxidant-rich vegetables for a nutritious appetizer that won’t weigh you down. Remember, the MyPlate eating method works for an appetizer plate or a dinner plate. To learn more about MyPlate, visit


Exercise seems difficult to maintain during the holidays, but it can light up your metabolism and spark your energy! Ignite your body’s natural calorie burn by aiming for 10,000 steps every day. Steps don’t have to be logged at the gym. They can be achieved by adding small activities throughout the day like parking in the back of the parking lot when holiday shopping, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or dancing to your favorite holiday song at parties. Or break your usual activity up into short activity periods of 10-15 minutes, 2 to 3 times throughout the day. Don’t forget to hydrate while staying active during the holidays. In fact, a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests trading in your water bottle for a milk bottle, to hydrate best. The researchers found that the combination of natural sugar, fat, protein and sodium in milk did the best job of hydrating participants. So, if you need an afternoon pick-me up, choose a creamy latte topped with cinnamon or a cup of warm hot chocolate made with milk. Milk offers 9 essential nutrients, including protein, calcium and vitamin D, that your body needs to keep up with the holiday frenzy. Stay healthy this holiday season by going light on stress, light on food and lighting up your metabolism. Entertain with a no hassle cheese board, design your plate after MyPlate and stay active by moving daily for at least 30 minutes. With these tips, you can celebrate a healthier you and look forward to a bright new year. Visit for more delicious recipes to lighten up your holiday table.

BAKED ARTICHOKE SPINACH DIP A hot spinach-artichoke dip is always a hit at parties, and this one is packed with protein from the yogurt and the cheese. Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 20 mins Total Time 30 mins Servings: 8 Ingredients • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained • 1 (8-ounce) container low-fat plain yogurt • 1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture Mozzarella cheese • 1/4 cup chopped green onion • 1 garlic clove, minced • 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper Instructions Combine all ingredients except red pepper and mix well. Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish. Bake at 350º 20-25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with chopped red bell pepper. Serve with toasted bread or whole grain crackers.

Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN is the Assistant Director of Food and Nutrition Outreach for The Dairy Alliance. She received her Master of Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill and has been working in dietetics for over 15 years. She can be reached at

DECEMBER 2019 | 19



Thinking About Dessert First by Ray Linville

If you want a delectable dessert with lunch, where do you go? For me and many others, it’s Mrs. Lacy’s Magnolia House in Sanford. The restaurant is known as much for its desserts as it is for its soups, salads, sandwiches and quiches. Everything is homemade. Patricia and Lorin Jenkins from nearby Harnett County, about 20 miles away, come at least once a week. He says, “Sometimes it’s up to three meals a week. “The atmosphere here is so casual. We were introduced to Mrs. Lacy’s about 10 years ago. Every place we’ve lived – New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan – we’ve always had a tea house. This one is just as good if not better than the ones we’ve been to.” Although the menu is extensive with many choices for salads and sandwiches, he was more interested in discussing desserts. What’s his favorite at Mrs. Lacy’s? “Actually, it’s three: lemon lush, strawberry shortcake, and key lime pie,” he says. My wife and I have to argue with his choices. For us, the butter pecan cake (with butter pecan ice cream) and Victoria’s Secret, a cherry-pineapple cobbler, can’t be beat. (We also took home a lemon lush, and it’s as good as its name. Made with cream cheese, it has a pecan crust and a lemon filing with a whipped topping sprinkled with pecans.) Lorin also recommends reservations because sometimes out-of-towners come by the vanload for lunch before they head to the Temple Theater for an afternoon performance. After I talked to the Jenkins couple, Faye Shultz—the restaurant’s owner—whispered to me her secret for having 20 | DECEMBER 2019

such great desserts. “My grandson Chad makes the cakes. He comes in at 4 in the morning, starts them, leaves to work out, and then returns to finish the cakes,” she says. All this occurs before he goes to his “regular day job” at Munday Scientific, which services and repairs microscopes. “We make a few extra desserts each day. It all depends on how we’re feeling. We usually have 13-15 desserts each day,” she adds. Of all the desserts, the shortcake is obviously a winner because Shultz sells a shortcake mix so customers can make it at home just like she serves (well, they try). Although Shultz uses local strawberries and peaches in season with the shortcake, she can continue to serve strawberry shortcake in most months because that fruit is so readily available fresh. How good the shortcake is, is no longer a secret. “Sometimes people order as many as 20 at a time when local berries are in season,” she says. Travelers to Mrs. Lacy’s come from far away to enjoy the food, particularly the desserts. Schultz has a book with signatures from all over the United States and from many foreign countries such as Japan and the Netherlands. Schultz named the restaurant after her grandmother, Mrs. Lacy Jones Coggins, who had 15 children and was called Mrs. Lacy by everyone in the community. Shultz’s fondest memories of her years growing up are eating lunch with the family on Sundays after church at Grandma Lacy’s.

The restaurant, which first opened in 1995, occupies a charming Victorian two-story house built in 1902. At one time it was the home of Dr. Margaret McLeod, Sanford’s first pediatrician. Although the influence of women is abundantly clear at Mrs. Lacy’s, it is more than a lunch place for only ladies, as several men were dining with their wives and significant others.

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In the sunroom I met a couple who had just connected on an online dating site and were meeting for the first time. Each was also at Mrs. Lacy’s for the first time, and both had been told it was the best place for lunch in Sanford, a halfway point between where each one lives—Ruth in Southern Pines and Tim in Fuquay-Varina. How did I feel when I realized I was interrupting an initial date after they had just met? Awkward! But they were most gracious, and with sparkles in their eyes, they spoke romantically about … the food. Tim had a sampler salad plate, a popular selection with plentiful servings of four of the eight salads at Mrs. Lacy’s. (Although all eight are excellent, I recommend chicken, broccoli, Waldorf and cranberry.) Ruth picked a quiche that is served with a side salad. “It was moist, had a nice flavor, and was a generous serving,” she says. Both say that they will return (and I hope that it’s for another date). At 405 Carthage St., Mrs. Lacy’s is easy to find in Sanford and is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Plan to arrive early or call ahead (919-7776787) for reservations. When you go, save room for dessert. Better yet, order extra to take home. Got extra time? After lunch, attend an afternoon performance that begins at 2 p.m. on selected Thursdays and Fridays at the Temple Theater, only three blocks north on the same street.

Ray Linville writes about local connections to Southern food, history and culture. He can be reached at


OUTREACHNC.COM to read the entire 4-part series.

Opioids: It Could Be Anyone September 2019 The Lived Experience: Stories of Hope From the Opioid Epidemic October 2019 Safe Havens: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in America’s Opioid Crisis November 2019 The Way Forward: Hope and Healing in America's Opioid Crisis December 2019

DECEMBER 2019 | 21



Fully Developed Claims: What Veterans Need to Know About Filing a Claim by Jim Pedersen, VSO & Director of Moore County Veterans Service Office

In 2010, the Veterans Administration unrolled the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) program to help eliminate a massive backup of disability claims. In the nine years since the FDC program began, the backlog has significantly decreased. Latest VA statistics from July of this year show 362,722 claims awaiting a decision which represents a marked reduction from the one million claims that were backlogged at the FDC program inception. Under the standard claims process, used prior to 2010, the veteran provides the information as to location of the military and medical records, and the VA is responsible for tracking down and obtaining the records. Claims slogged slowly through this system as the VA gathered information before it could take any action on deciding the claim. The advent of the Fully Developed Claim streamlined the process by assigning the responsibility for gathering needed records to the veteran. In addition to making the system more efficient, the FDC program allows veterans more control over their claims. Here’s how the process works.

FIRST, the veteran files a VA form number 21-0966 to

notify the Veterans Administration that they will be filing a claim. This form is essentially a “save the date” notification and sets the effective date for the claim as the day the VA receives the intent to file form. The veteran has one year from the effective date to file the claim and if a claim is decided in the veteran’s favor, payments are retroactive to the effective date. 22 | DECEMBER 2019

In STEP TWO, the veteran gathers needed information that supports the claim. This may include: • Private medical records related to the claimed condition, including doctor records, x-rays and test results from a non-VA treatment center or hospital; • Records of the medical treatment for the claimed condition while the veteran was still in service; • Military personnel records that relate to the claimed condition; • Information about any health records that the veteran does not have so that the VA can request those records. Often these are treatment records from a federal facility like a VA medical center or clinic; • Private treatment records, such as records from a doctor or hospital; records from state or local governments; and records from current or former employers and any available service treatment records. The veteran may also need to provide dates, times and locations of service to the VA so they can request any service records the veteran does not have; • Letters from family members, friends, clergy, law enforcement personnel or people who served with the veteran that can provide information about the claimed condition and how and when it happened. This is especially important when a veteran feels service treatment records don’t include a description of their disability.

FILING THE CLAIM IS STEP THREE IN THE PROCESS. The claim should include all the evidence and

supporting documents. As with any claim, veterans must go to any VA medical exams that are required for a decision. These exams are conducted by contracted medical providers.

Most of the claims we file at our office are Fully Developed Claims. Occasionally we still file a standard claim, especially if a veteran needs the VA’s assistance finding essential documents. If the VA needs more information beyond what is in the original claim packet, they can switch the claim to the standard procedure and procure the needed records.

While we still advise patience for veterans who are awaiting a decision on their disability claim, the Fully Developed Claim system has helped to shorten wait times. According to the most recent

although sometimes the edges are singed. While they cannot recreate destroyed records, they can sometimes provide a certification of military service but it does not include information about deployments, education, medals, achievements and combat that would normally be found on a DD-214. The Moore County Veterans Service Office in Carthage employs three accredited Veterans Service Officers who can assist veterans with their disability claims. We can file paperwork, assist in gathering necessary records and provide guidance throughout the claims process. For information or to make an appointment, contact the office at 910-947-3257.

VA data, the average number of days needed to decide a Fully Developed Claim is 92.7. While we do see some claims quickly finalized, we still advise veterans to allow between six and 12 months to for a decision. Finally, lost or misplaced discharge documents (DD-214) account for many delays in filing claims. We can petition the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) for the documents, but this often takes several months. Additionally, many records were destroyed in a 1973 fire. The NPRC can provide a copy of a DD-214 that was partially destroyed,

VSO Jim Pedersen, right, is the director of the Moore County Veterans Service Office. Experienced nationally-certified VSOs Kelly Greene, and Robert “Bob” Hall, a Vietnam-era veteran who retired from the Army after 30 years of service, assist Moore County veterans with their disability claims.

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Happy Holidays:

Preventing and Beating Holiday Blues by: Jenna Renfroe Ph.D, ABPP

The winter holidays are some of the most magical times of the year and are also quite stressful – for more than the obvious reasons of to-dos, gift-buying, and busy schedules. While the holidays can be a time of great joy and excitement, for many they are an annual reminder of painful memories, loss, grief, or triggers of past trauma and difficult relationships. According to a survey conducted by the national alliance on mental illness (NAMI), 64% of people with existing mental health difficulties say that the holiday season makes their symptoms worse. Results of this survey also helped to shed light on what exactly triggers individuals around this time. It was noted that 68% of respondents feel financially strained; 66% experience loneliness; 63% too much pressure; 57% unrealistic expectations; 55% found themselves remembering happier times in the past contrasting with the present; and 50% were unable to be with loved ones. Fact is, if you are privately experiencing any or all of these feelings, you are clearly not alone. In fact, you may actually be the majority. Mental health professionals know this pattern all too well. While some people look forward to extra time off for the holidays, mental health professionals are often overworked and dealing with some of the most challenging clinical situations of the year due to the rise of general dysphoria and mental health “crises” around this time. Studies have looked at whether or not mental health 24 | DECEMBER 2019

care utilization increases around the holidays and actually have found the opposite - overall utilization patterns by psychiatric patients in emergency rooms and inpatient units is lower, as is the prevalence of self-harm behavior and suicide attempts/completions. However, there is a catch. Researchers also found that there is a “rebound” phenomenon where there is an increase in self-harm gestures and suicide attempts following the December holidays in the New Year. This suggests that, while people generally might grin and bear it during the holidays and maybe there is even a protective factor in all of the future-oriented, holiday events and gatherings, once all is said and done – people can be left in emotional turmoil. Increasing coping strategies for the “holiday blues” and prevention of this “holiday hangover,” if you will, is therefore of paramount importance. Lives might even depend on it. Step one has to start with prioritizing oneself. Yes, I know, this is the opposite of the holiday spirit of selflessness and giving, but the fact of the matter is that prioritizing one’s own self-care and mental health is not selfish; it is a basic necessity to be able to properly care for and be present with others. At times, this may also mean setting appropriate and healthy boundaries in relationships with family members or friends that have been problematic or triggering for you. Boundaries don’t have to be the kind with an electric fence; they can even be a nice, white picket fence, perhaps

adorned with some lovely English ivory – beautiful, non-threatening, and yet still a gentle barrier and form of self-protection.

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Be aware of the effect of increased libations (alcohol consumption). While this can be a part of the holiday celebrations, also be mindful of the pathophysiological effects of increased alcohol use on the brain and psyche. Alcohol can lead to impulsive or erratic behavior, heighten interpersonal conflict, and lead to actions that are not thought through by the “wise” mind. Alcohol is also a depressant, meaning it can actually increase depressed mood, especially once its initial effects have worn off. For individuals for whom the holidays are riddled with grief and reminders of a rosier past, consider starting new traditions. Getting out of the familiar settings and scenes that can be so triggering of painful memories can be a wise strategy. Consider starting a fresh tradition, holding events at a grandchild’s home instead, or visiting a different town for the holidays. Each day is the opportunity to begin anew and write the next chapter a bit differently. Ask yourself, when you look back on your life 10, 15, or 25 years down the road – what will you wish you did more or less of? What will you hope you have stood for; how do you hope you will be able to say you lived your life? This is a helpful exercise to help explore one’s values and goalsetting to look towards a rich and meaningful future. Lastly, consider working with a mental health professional. Therapy shouldn’t be a last resort, but rather a means of prioritizing and optimizing one’s mental health and enhancing your life. If you or someone you know does find themselves in crisis, either report to the local emergency department or consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).



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OutreachNC’s 2019

Book Club

We end our year-long book club with an epic, soaring novel: Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky. We weren’t sure what to expect, but with over 27,000 reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.5 star rating, we were eager to dig in. This novel did not disappoint, and we were surprised by how quickly we got caught up in the story of Pino Lella, an Italian teenage boy who loves what most boys love: girls, friends and his family. This novel marries two of the things we love most in literature – history and suspense. Add in a dash of love, and it’s a full-blown saga. With that in mind, here are 5 Thoughts on Beneath a Scarlet Sky and a few thoughts on the books we’ve read this year and our official pick as our favorite! 1. One of our favorite parts of Sullivan’s book is actually before the novel starts, when Sullivan describes his own state of mind and life circumstances before he began writing his story. We appreciate an author who can be so honest. 2. Sullivan is a Returned Peace Corps volunteer (Niger), which has nothing at all to do with his novel but which makes him good people, obviously. 3. This novel is based on a true story, on real people, and the author does a great job of marrying fiction and nonfiction. That’s not always the case when non-fiction writers attempt to write fiction and vice versa. It’s not a seamless example of either one, of course, but it’s solid and readable. 4. For anyone interested in WWII history, seeing it from the Italian perspective is one of the highlights of this novel. The suffering of Italians under Mussolini and Hitler is explored here, which is often overlooked. 5. Jeeves gave this novel 4 stars. He said the writing was, he admits, a bit simplistic, but the story won him over. Jeeves is, after all, a romantic at heart. He also suggests The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See and The Alice Network if you enjoy Beneath a Scarlet Sky. We have loved sharing books with our readers this year. It has been a ride of ups and downs. We have adored some books and abhorred others. Yes, abhorred. We have debated style and substance, rallied behind our favorite characters, discovered new authors, revisited our own relationships and regretted spending $15 of hard-earned money on what would be relegated to a donation pile, even if we understand what is one woman’s trash is another’s treasure. Such is the life of a book-lover. There are hits and misses, but we learn, grow and move forward, grateful to engage and travel to the world through the eyes and experiences of new characters. Here is our short-list of favorites from the year, based entirely on emotion and personal opinion. Amy, Editor in Chief – Our Souls at Night Beautifully written and relatable, Haruf ’s last novel is an homage to the power of connection and the fact that we all need to be touched and heard and to simply lay in the presence of another human being, even in the dark of night – especially in the dark of night. Jeeves, Feline in Chief – Who is Vera Kelly? A smart, quirky heroine with depth and a story with twists and turns? Jeeves is a fan. Toss in CIA antics and questions about self, and he can’t deny he loved this pick. 26 | DECEMBER 2019

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Finally, from all of the emails, comments, social media posts and letters, we’ve determined which book struck a cord with you all.... our fabulous readers. Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World received the most feedback from readers, and all of it was positive and appreciative. You loved Alexander’s writing and her message, and her book made you think about your own marriages, relationships and lives. This is, we think, the sign of fine writing, indeed. One of our readers, Ann, wrote this: I read The Light of the World that you suggested in your monthly book club. I loved it.The writing was beautiful and the descriptions haunting. It was touching, and so sad in many places that I had to stop reading, and went back to it later. It made me think of my marriage of 49 years. Thank you, Ann, for such a thoughtful and touching letter to the editor. We feel much the same way, even if we haven’t yet celebrated 49 years. Thank you to everyone who reached out, read along and let us know your thoughts on the books we delved into this year. As 2019 closes out and we look forward to a new year, we are grateful to ride along on this journey together and excited for what 2020 will bring us in the way of characters, plot lines and character struggle!

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DECEMBER 2019 | 27

Hidden Hometown Heroes

The Santa Claus of Sanford by Crissy Neville Photography by Diana Matthews

28 | DECEMBER 2019

On face value, Jim Annis of Sanford seems the victor. He who dies with the most toys wins. The home workshop teeming with wooden toys is proof positive. Hundreds of trucks, cars, airplanes, trains, dolls, pull toys, and piggy banks seal the deal. Painted and posed, the toys sit as though trophies of the title, medals of the matchup to which, upon inquiry, you find there was never really a match. That’s because not only does Annis not collect the toys, he makes them; he doesn’t keep the toys, he gifts them, to young children across Lee County and even the state who are the real winners in one man’s quest to make toys and spread Christmas cheer. To see a child smile is his reward. What of that most toy slogan? Annis is, well, the antithesis of such bumper-sticker banter. “I was from a poor family,” Annis said. “There were seven of us, and even though my dad worked, he never made much money. We never really had toys at Christmas. I like to make toys for the kids who might not have much of a Christmas. I don’t like to see kids go without; I want them to have a good Christmas.” At age 80, Annis has been crafting toys and spreading joy for over 50 years. Many call him the Santa Claus of Sanford, but he gets gifts, too, he said, in the way of smiles and hugs, laughter and love — intangibles as near and dear to his heart as the toys are to the kids. Annis sat down with OutreachNC Magazine’s Crissy Neville in his backyard workshop recently to share tales of and his talent for toymaking, teaching by example that it is better to give than to receive.

DECEMBER 2019 | 29

Crissy Neville: Mr. Annis, you are a very gifted woodworker. How did you get started? Jim Annis: I have always been good with my hands, but was not very good at school. I have a hearing problem, but my family couldn’t afford hearing aids for me, so I struggled. In the ninth grade, my principal called me into his office and said to me, Jim, you need a trade you can use when you get out of high school. I took machine shop, woodworking, and drafting, learning how to run those machines. I took so many of those classes and not enough of the core ones that I almost did not graduate, but two weeks before the ceremony, he told me I would get a signed diploma.

You see, God gave me gifts in my hands for crafting and also in my feet for dancing. CN: I see signs here in your workshop for “Mr. Jim’s Dance Place” and many pictures of young dancers. So, you are a dancer, too? JA: Yes, I’ve been dancing all my life! I built this room onto my workshop when my first wife, Margaret, was still alive. We had a dance studio here from 1986 to 2001. I taught high schoolers clogging lessons, something I picked up from watching cloggers at the North Carolina State Fair. I love to clog and loved teaching young people. They won many competitions at the State Fair in those years. I compete as a solo performer myself and have placed many times, too. I remarried in 2001, and my wife Elba and I square dance in Angier once a week and go to the senior enrichment center for Saturday night dances. I taught dance classes at the center in past years — the two-step, waltz, line and square dancing, swing, you name it. CN: You are no longer teaching dance classes, but I see you are still making toys. Have you always been a toymaker? JA: Well, yes, but I also made all kinds of other things from wood, too. I made camping trays, yard decorations, shelves, birdhouses, Santa Clause figures, outdoor chairs, even furniture, but it was just a hobby. I mean, I sold some things here and there, but my real job was as a machinist at the Coty plant in Sanford, where I worked 29 years. But I loved making smaller things from wood, so I started making toys for the kids at Christmastime for fun, and it just stuck.

30 | DECEMBER 2019

DECEMBER 2019 | 31

32 | DECEMBER 2019

I love to see the kids smile and to make them happy. I never had any children of my own, so these kids I give toys to, and the young dancers I taught lessons to, I call them all my kids. They all touch my heart. CN: That does make you like Santa Claus! How do you decide which children get toys? JA: Some people around here do call me Santa, and I do put on a Santa hat when I take my toys down to the Salvation Army of Lee County’s JOY program at the National Guard Armory each year. JOY stands for Joy for Others at Yuletide. I have been working with them since about 1977 and give away about 200-250 toys each year. People fill out applications, those that need assistance, and qualifying families come in at the right time to get donated food, clothing, toys, and even bicycles. I bring all my handmade toys and let each child pick one thing they want. I lead the boy or girl by the hand if they will let me, and say, hey sweetie, let’s pick out a toy. They are usually toddlers up to about age 5 or 6 years old. CN: If you make 200 to 250 toys, it must take a long time! Tell me about the process. Do you have any help?


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JA: I usually make sets of the same toys together, like five or six trucks or cars, for example, and that takes about two days.

I use patterns I draw myself and trace them onto wood, usually 2x4s or 2x6s of scrap pine or oak planks that were left over from a construction job site or donated from someone in the community. I have torn down a barn or two to get the lumber. Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 155 Blake Blvd. | PINEHURST A PART OF THE LIBERTY FAMILY OF SERVICES

DECEMBER 2019 | 33

Next, I use a band saw and cut out the pattern, and I come behind with a sander. Then I have to figure out where the wheels go, if it is a rolling toy. Those are always a favorite among the kids, especially the dog and cricket pull-along kind with moveable legs. My favorite is this one (pointing) that I call the “granddaddy of them all.” It’s a car transporter that holds five cars and is a doozie for the kids to put back together. I might add other things like windows, and for that, I use a drill press. Finally, I paint or shellac the wood, or do both. I have had youth groups from a local church help paint and men’s groups run the machinery, but mostly I do all the work myself. It does take all year to get ready for Christmas, and I have seen my share of Christmases, but like I tell Elba, I guess I’ll keep at it until my toes turn up (chuckling). CN: You have done a lot of other volunteer work, I understand. Have you carried toys to other places and worked with other groups? JA: Yes. I like working with veterans and went to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville for a year straight. I took toys and let them paint, and whatever they painted, I let them keep. That was a great time.

A new thing I have started is called “The Ultimate Sacrifice,” which aims to honor families who have lost a loved one in the military. I write letters to the families of fallen soldiers and frame those and add a miniature American flag or a red, white and blue toy vehicle. I am very grateful for their sacrifice and service and want to show it. I have been going 16 years straight up to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill with the local firefighters. They collect toys during the year, and I go with them and take my toys to give out. I like helping with their summer camp, on Red Cross disaster relief missions and with Habitat for Humanity, too. And, I have to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime, too. I can’t miss that. CN: With so much sharing and giving, I am sure you have special memories to share.

34 | DECEMBER 2019

JA: Each one is a special memory. One Christmas, a family came into the Salvation Army to pick up their holiday packages, and they had their little girl with them. She was to get a toy, too, but she could barely walk. So, I picked her up, and I took her over to the toy table. She pointed to the wooden dolls and said, “Me? Me have doll?” And I said yes, sweetie, you can have a doll. You can have anyone you want. It makes my heart full every time.

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FaithAFTER FIFTY by Jonathan Scott

36 | DECEMBER 2019


No one would ever have described Walt and Gloria as religious. I didn’t know them when they were young, but Gloria had likely attended her local Methodist church with her mother. By the time I met the couple they were middle aged with young adult children and only a standard cultural involvement with things religious. They celebrated Christmas with a tree and presents and carols. They knew the popular Bible stories, used common phrases such as “Good Samaritan,” and would have likely listed “Methodist” or, at least, “Protestant” if required on a form. But they never attended services and were suspicious of religious zealousness of any flavor. Then, inexplicably to me, when they were in their mid-seventies, Walt and Gloria started going to church regularly. Their daughter thinks it began when they were invited to a local Episcopal church by a close friend but, in any event, they chose a Methodist church for regular attendance, and Gloria was reconnected with the denomination of her childhood. Walt, who apparently had no particular religious background, even joined the choir. Even though I was initially surprised, I needn’t have been. Their story isn’t anything new and is being repeated over and over again with seniors in America. It transcends lines of denominations and certainly isn’t limited to Protestant Christians. It’s a story that has implications for the religious institutions these seniors turn to, and even for some of the assumptions on which our culture is based. “I’ve seen this frequently,” says Rabbi Dov Goldberg, who serves the Beth Israel congregation in Fayetteville.

DECEMBER 2019 | 37

“When we’re young we can sometimes be on autopilot— focused on mundane, day-to-day, survival. When we retire, we may first go all in for recreation but, beyond that, we have the opportunity to feed the deeper needs that we were mostly ignoring. We can begin to reflect on ourselves.” Goldberg attributes much of the renewed interest in Judaism he’s witnessed in his congregation to experiences of a personal loss in later years. “There are a handful of life cycle moments when we become susceptible to religious ideas. When we lose folks who are close to us, we reflect on the meaning of life, who they were, and the impact they had on us. “In those times we can feel out of control—even on a practical level—and turn to our religion to tell us what to do. The traditions of a familiar faith can help us navigate our grief. It’s not unusual for people who experience loss to change their behavior and start coming to services more frequently.” As common as this trend may seem to those in the clerical profession, human sciences have been slow to shine their own light on the issue of shift in religious value as people age. Religion and science have had an uncomfortable relationship for centuries but if we, as a society, are to improve the aging process, we may have to start thinking about the role of faith—or its lack. Jane Marie Thibault is a Presbyterian gerontologist and emerita clinical professor in Family and Geriatric Medicine. In a book coauthored with the Rev. Richard Morgan, Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life she writes, “There’s very little (study done about) theological development in terms of the faith of older adults. It’s so necessary. In my research, I’ve noticed crises of faith, severe crises of faith, often occur in later life.” “It’s the big what does come next? question,” says Rev. Colette Bachand, Chaplain for Penick Village in Southern Pines. Bachand, an Episcopalian, has done extensive research and work with the spiritual care of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. “For some people, life has been a system of rewards and punishments, so they think, 'If I’ve not been good enough, am I not going to heaven?’ That’s a huge issue, and different faith denominations have different perspectives. If a person is 80-years old and thinks he may be going to hell, it can be very difficult. I once counseled a person who, in his perspective, hadn’t done enough in his life. And when he was dying, he was terrified.”

38 | DECEMBER 2019

In her work as local chaplain of Liberty Home Care & Hospice Services, Rev. Karen Wicker has been involved with many intimate conversations on faith with people approaching the end of their lives. “So much depends on their life experience,” she says. “Some people may never have had a faith. Maybe it wasn’t in their home. Maybe they once did, but now they’re angry at God for taking a loved one. But, if they’re willing, it’s not too late for them to establish an emotional connection with a faith.” Rev. Wicker’s thoughts are echoed by Rev. Tom Lamkin. Lamkin is a pastor with the Association of Missions for the Sandhills Baptist Association. “I don’t think we ever lose the hunger for the spiritual. We may try to hide it. We may try to run from it. Maybe it’s never been there in the formal sense—maybe we didn’t go to Sunday school, we weren’t baptized when we were nine, we never went to youth group—but that doesn’t change the fact that we are fundamentally spiritual beings.

There will be those natural life events that will confront us that say, ‘There’s more to life than what you are.’ That’s when the spiritual aspect comes forward.” Unfortunately, even for people who reach their senior years with a lifetime of religious commitment, faith in later years can have challenges. “Years ago when I was serving in a local church ,” says Rev. Lamkin, “an older member of the congregation, whose family had been there for a long time, sat in my office crying. She said, ‘I just want my church back. I want it the way it used to be!’ Her anchor had been her religion. By that time, almost all the people she had known in leadership positions had passed away or retired, and new arrivals to the town were moving into the congregation. It wasn’t that we were doing anything wrong. But she was losing her stability.” “Across the board,” says Rev. Bachand, “it seems as if it’s harder for congregations to stay in contact with their aging members.

I think so many faith traditions are focused on survival and how they can attract young families. Everything is so youth oriented, which is great, but let’s not forget the people who filled up the chairs at Sunday school years ago and are now living in an institution or can’t drive to church.” “There’s a grieving that people suffer when they’re isolated from their faith community or from their church,” says Rev. Wicker. “For some patients, we

DECEMBER 2019 | 39

Rev. Colette Bachand has defined five issues that often concern people as they approach the end of their lives: • Granting forgiveness • Receiving forgiveness • Saying “I love you.” • Hearing “I love you.” • Peace/acceptance/resolution

Recommended Reading: Do This, Remembering Me: The Spiritual Care of Those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia by Colette Bachand-Wood, Morehouse Publishing, 2016

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister, BlueBridge, 2010 Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth by Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L Morgan, Upper Room, 2012 From Age-ing to Sage-ing : a profound new vision of growing older Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller, Grand Central Publishing, 2008 A Heart of Wisdom: Making the Jewish Journey from Midlife through the Elder Years Susan Berrin and Rabbi Harold S. Kushner,  Jewish Lights,  1999

40 | DECEMBER 2019

have to redefine church. When I visit someone who is no longer mobile, I may pullout my iPhone and play the hymns channels on Pandora. I read Scriptures, or we sing together. It’s bringing religion to them in a way they can experience without it being in a communal setting in a building with a steeple.” In 1999, in one of the few scientific studies touching on this issue, the academic journal Demography published the results of a longitudinal study of more than 20,000 adult Americans. The researchers concluded that people who identify themselves as having a religious involvement live approximately seven years longer than those who do not. The most obvious reason might be the repeatedly proven benefit of social support. Maxine Hancock, writing for the international online religious journal Pantheos in 2010, wrote, “Aging, of course, makes a mockery of our cult of individualism. You might be able to be young and think you can take on the world alone, but you cannot take on old age alone— or, if you attempt to do so, it is a sad and lonely affair. To grow old within a congregation of those who share your faith is to grow old within a goodly company.” Despite the tradition in charismatic and evangelical denominations of believers testifying in public to their conversions and devotion, I had a difficult time finding people who were willing to talk to me about changes in their personal attitudes toward religion as they grew into their senior years. Gloria, whom I mentioned in the beginning, had no inclination to talk about her return to church. I’m certain she receives comfort from the familiarity of the liturgy and a feeling of support from the congregation. But after her husband, Walt, died, she confessed to her daughter, “I’m not sure I can believe he’s in a better place.” I believe, or very much want to believe, that religious faith can provide people with strength, courage, and peace of mind in later years. My wish for those of us who are religious is that we may continue to find the best in our faiths and in ourselves as we continue to age. As the 12th Century German saint, Hildegard von Bingen, wrote in one of her mystical songs, “Like billowing clouds, like the incessant gurgle of the brook, the longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”

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Christmas Tree Farms:

family, fun and fa-la-la-la-la by Crissy Neville Photography by Diana Matthews

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North Carolina — the Tarheel State, First in Flight, North Cackalacky; all refer to this land we love, but missing from the list is the moniker more in sync with the season: Christmas tree capital. Not the capital, mind you, but as first runner-up, North Carolina is the second-largest producer of Christmas trees in the nation and proudly hangs its hat on this title for the love of agriculture, tourism, family traditions, and all things Christmas. And what outing more combines these favored sons of our state than one to chooseand-cut your own Christmas tree at a North Carolina Christmas tree farm? Just after Thanksgiving each year, barely before the turkey and dressing or the final football scores have settled, families begin the traditional trek to the attic for the holiday decorations and to town for the tree. While some make a short trip to a road-side stand for a pre-cut real tree or a local retailer for one of the artificial assortment, more and more people choose to pilgrimage to a Christmas tree farm for the experience just as much as the purchase. The scene could be one from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Everyone bundles up in warm winter clothes and hits the road in the family car or truck for some farm fun, a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee in tow. The Christmas carols that have been playing since nearly the first of fall are suddenly tuned in and turned up on the radio. While in search of this year’s perfect evergreen edition, you roam row after row of fragrant white pine, Frasier Fir, and Leyland Cypress to name a few of the most popular cultivars. The sight is familiar: small heads stretching upward to see the treetop, dad getting tangled up with badly behaving branches, and mom sizing-up the specimen. Mom’s “is that spine straight” inquiry countered by pop’s pondering of the tree’s strength and stamina: “Will this baby hold an ornament? And, how am I going to get this giant in the house?” The kids want big, beautiful, and a blazing fire back home.

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Banter and bartering follow, but once the conifer is chosen, measured, complimented or argued over, and this year’s perfect photo preserved, along come the larger-than-usual farm “elves” to bind and tether the tree to said transportation. Now the fun begins. Depending on the location, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, tourism division, Christmas tree farms entertain their guests, too. Hop on to take a train or hayride, covered wagon tour or horse-drawn sleigh spin around the tree grove, visit with Santa, drink hot cider or cocoa, roast a marshmallow or eat a meal, hear a story, choose decor to deck the halls back home, buy candy at the gift shop, see lavish light displays, and even stay the night or weekend at one of the many farms offering accommodations and Christmas tree getaways. The experience is a memory in the making, every time. And more than likely, the trophy tree is a Fraser fir. Over 50 million Fraser firs are grown in North Carolina, representing over 94% of all the trees grown as Christmas trees in our state. Known for their cone shape, sturdy branches, high needle retention and long-lasting aroma, the Fraser Fir did not always strike the Christmas chord. First known as a landscape tree, it was not until the 1950s did North Carolina experiment with the Fraser as a holiday tree variety, or any tree farms for that matter. People in the past, up until the 1940s and 50s, cut trees down from the woods, mostly from the cedar family. Christmas tree farmers started with Scotch pine, balsam fir, Douglas fir, and red cedar and soon turned to Frasers after seeing the success of sales from a federal forest on Asheville’s Roan Mountain.

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If you are going on a road-trip for farm fun reverie, you will find the most choice in our state’s top five tree-producing counties: Ashe, Avery, Alleghany and Watauga in the High Country and Jackson County in the Great Smoky Mountains. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association provides a list of some 40 growers in the choose-andcut category, including those in the town of Newland in Avery County, home to Mountain Top Fraser Fir Farm, and the 2018 official White House Christmas tree. Ashe County has a claim to fame, too, having provided the official White House tree a record seven times. North Carolina Fraser Firs have delivered in this department 13 times, the most from any state and of any tree species. The 2019 White House tree, however, is a Douglas Fir out of Pittman, Pennsylvania. Plan your tree-finding trip at http://www. In addition to commercial growth, Christmas tree varieties grow naturally in the North Carolina mountains, but all of the trees grown east of the mountains are on chooseand-cut farms. The Fraser fir grows naturally only in the southern Appalachians, above 3,000 feet. The cool temperatures and plentiful rainfall of the North Carolina High Country are what causes the Fraser fir to keep its needles throughout the Christmas season. Frasers do not grow well in eastern North Carolina, so farmers here grow Leyland Cypress, Blue Ice, Carolina Sapphire, Eastern Red Cedar, white pine, Norway Spruce, Virginia pine, Scotch pine, and the white cedar cultivar Green Giant Arborvitae instead, and buy Frasers from mountain growers to resell. Search for eastern North Carolina Christmas tree farms at http:// or https://

DECEMBER 2019 | 45

Ready to find the perfect tree? Below is a partial list of nearby choose-and-cut tree farms, but be sure to research further-away options. Always call before heading out. For details, visit

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Moore County Doby Christmas Tree Farm 150 Doby Road, Cameron Phone: 910-245-3265

Cumberland County B & D Christmas Tree Farm 1206 Elliott Farm Road, Fayetteville Phone: 910-488-3003

Lee County Griffin Evergreens 1823 Broadway Road, Sanford Phone: 919-842-6306

Chatham County Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm 2170 Martha’s Chapel Road, Apex Phone: 919-362-6300

The Tree Patch 1746 Henley Road, Sanford Phone: 919-776-6475

Johnston County Northlake Christmas Tree Farm 7326 Meadowcreek Road, Benson Phone: 919-894-3524

Once you get the tree home, remember these tips for safety and the preservation of your tree. • Keep displayed trees away from point sources of heat such as fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, or in direct sunlight. • Keep the stand full of water at all times. Lowering the room temperature will slow drying, resulting in less water consumption. • Keep pets away from the tree and use only UL-approved lights, electrical cords, and devices on trees. • Check electrical cords and lights for damage before placement on the tree. • Avoid using artificial snow sprays, to which some people are allergic and may cause lung irritation if inhaled. • Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house. • Recycle your tree when the season is over by taking it to a drop-off recycling center: Most counties have free drop-off locations. For yard waste pickup, be sure to cut the tree up into smaller pieces. Convinced? Have fun this season in what might become a new family tradition - selecting a choose-and-cut fresh Christmas tree. 46 | DECEMBER 2019

[little tree] E. E. Cummings - 1894-1962 little tree little silent Christmas tree you are so little you are more like a flower who found you in the green forest and were you very sorry to come away? see i will comfort you because you smell so sweetly i will kiss your cool bark and hug you safe and tight just as your mother would, only don’t be afraid look the spangles that sleep all the year in a dark box dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine, the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads, put up your little arms and i’ll give them all to you to hold. every finger shall have its ring and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy then when you’re quite dressed you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see and how they’ll stare! oh but you’ll be very proud and my little sister and i will take hands and looking up at our beautiful tree we’ll dance and sing “Noel Noel” DECEMBER 2019 | 47


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Editor's Note

When I first began writing about the opioid crisis, the end seemed simple, though not easy. Rehab was obviously the route to go for overcoming addiction, and though I realized money could be a substantial barrier, I didn’t know how complicated the issues of addiction, drug use and the opioid epidemic really are, how deeply they seep into the lives and communities upon which they feed. Essentially, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Many months later, after interviews with people who use or have used drugs, parents, social workers, community health experts, doctors, lawyers and everyone in between, my perspective has changed. The answers are no longer pat, no longer simple and clear. But they do exist, the answers, and there is hope, and healing. Many of the people I’ve spoken with have asked me not to name them, in large part because their stories are not only their own. They are stories of their children’s addiction, of their spouse’s addiction, of a close friend or lover’s struggle with drug use and dependency. I have heard time and again, “Please don’t print my name. I don’t care if people know my story, but my daughter’s story isn’t mine to tell.” I’ve interviewed several people who, days before an article was set to go to print, retracted the entire interview and asked me to tell nothing, not even under assumed names, not even with changes that might obscure identity. I have obliged. Such is the nature of this subject. There is a fine line between storytelling, reporting and exploitation, and I would rather sit frustrated in my office, a blank screen in front of me where a story once lived, than know that I somehow contributed to making someone’s story worse, someone’s pain tighter, even if I could find a technicality to excuse that retelling. But as I ponder how to write this final piece, exploring where to go from here and how we might all help each other address opioid use disorder, all of those stories, interviews, suggestions and statements speak to me, as if they’re voices independent of the person who first spoke them, each one sitting in a chair in my office, hand raised, waiting to be heard. So, without names or dates or identifying markers, here is what I have learned about what we can do, where we can go and how we can help individuals, families and communities recover from an epidemic of opioid addiction.

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From interviews with persons in active recovery to persons currently using drugs to family members who have both seen their children recover and visited their graves after their death from overdose, here is the advice for the individual struggling with opioid (or any drug/ alcohol) dependency or addiction who wants help: 1. Reach Out – Ask for help from people who can support your recovery rather than from friends who are currently using drugs. Reach out to parents, friends, community health workers and clergy. As one parent says, “Be open and honest. I think that’s one of the things that my daughter was not because she feared. There is so much fear of the punishment that might come along that they don’t open up to the parents who can help them and who love them. Their parents love them, and of all the people in the world, the parents are the people who will be there to help them.” 2. Find Help – Navigating the process of recovery is neither simple nor easy. Support is necessary for ongoing recovery, so finding someone who can help you begin the process of recovery and finding help navigating the ongoing process is important. This might be in the form of a mentor, a sponsor, a community health worker or a peer support specialist. Peer support specialists are people who have lived with addiction themselves and who understand the experience of drug use and recovery, people who have lived experience, who can relate, respond and understand where you are and help you navigate through the necessary steps of treatment, whichever form that takes. Roxanne Elliott, Policy Director of Community Health Services for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, says, “Peer support specialists can help you navigate the process and help you determine the best path to recovery.” 3. Be Open – There is not one path to recovery. There is no magic pill, no one program, no fail-safe solution that will work for each person, as each person is unique. Each circumstance is different. Some paths to recovery involve Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and counseling. Some paths include formal rehabilitation at residential treatment centers. Some paths include Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, which are both 12-step programs based on the abstinence model of recovery. There is no one-sizefits-all recovery program or path, so be open to options and find the best fit for your own circumstances, personality and future. Britteny, who is in active recovery, doesn’t use AA, for example. She says, “That just really triggers me. I don’t want to sit and talk about the times I got high. A lot of times, that’s what they do, and that triggers me to want to get high. I like reading the book, the NA book, and I relate a lot to the book, but as far as meetings, I don’t do it.” Another woman, Nancy, has maintained her sobriety for 20+ years through the use of AA. She says, “Just try it, AA. If you don’t like it, you can walk out. If you don’t like what you see or hear, you can leave. But those who stay, stay sober.” Clint relies on his newly-found faith (and support through a men’s program of faith, fellowship and fitness called F3). Just before entering rehab, Clint says, “For me, I became really desperate to get help. I was an atheist, but I became desperate enough to pray. I was desperate enough to try. And when I did, this huge catalyst of events [began] that ended up saving me.”

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Families and Loved Ones Parents, siblings, loved ones and caregivers all find themselves asking: what can I do? What should I do? What must I do to help my child, brother, sister, spouse or friend overcome opioid use and addiction before it’s too late. I’ve asked people in active recovery what their parents or spouses could have done to help them. I’ve asked community health workers what family members should do. I’ve spoken with police officers and peer support specialists about this very topic, and here are the suggestions, based on lived experience, for family members and loved ones of persons living with addiction:

1. Set Boundaries – Time and again, from people using drugs to parents who lost children to overdose, I heard the same refrain: do not enable persons using drugs. Finding the line between loving a child or loved one and enabling him or her is difficult and, no doubt, an individual, unique decision, but focusing on creating strong boundaries is key in helping people who struggle with addiction. Karen Wicker of DrugFree Moore County is quick to point out that love is a key component of recovery. She says, “Parents don’t have to like the addiction, but they have to love their child. The message of cutting the user off is an old message.” Boundaries, however, are important. Clint, who is now in active recovery, answered the question of what someone could have done to help him during his addiction in saying, “Let me suffer the consequences of my poor decisions.” Brittney says, when asked what she would say to a parent of a child using drugs, “Don’t enable them. It’s hard for parents. It’s hard to tell them no. But don’t let them come home. As hard as it is, you have to tell them no. You have to show them, the kids, let the drug addict hit rock bottom. Let them have nowhere to go, no food to eat, as ugly as it sounds, that’s what its going to take. As long as your enabling them, they have a roof over their head, they’re gonna keep using. They’re comfortable as a drug addict. They’re not having hard times.” A father whose daughter uses drugs and who works in recovery ministry, who asked to remain anonymous, says, “Don’t give them money. We associate love with giving money to fix their problems, but that does more harm than good. I think in Western culture, we think money is the solution. It’s not. That’s the easy thing, to write a check. That does more harm than good. We can help by giving them our time.”

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FirstHealth of the Carolinas With recent grant funding, FirstHealth of the Carolinas is partnering with organizations within the Sandhills region to bring awareness, hope, freedom and recovery to those struggling with opioid addiction and dependence. The Sandhills Opioid Response Consortium serves all individuals impacted by opioid addiction through collaborating with partners to create access to treatment and recovery resources and programs. Please visit recoveryresources for information related to: • Awareness/prevention • Treatment/recovery centers • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) • Peer support services • Resources • Harm Reduction • Stigma Education • Caregiver Resources The Consortium’s work includes increasing awareness and stigma education, building peer support programs, providing resources in faith communities and schools, increasing access to and streamlined flow toward treatment and recovery, implementing screening protocols, implementing the use of rapid response teams, and decreasing the number of ED visits. For more information, please contact Roxanne Elliott by emailing rmelliott@ or call 910-715-3487. 52 | DECEMBER 2019

2. Support Yourself – It’s important for caregivers and loved ones to find and engage in support for themselves. Supporting people who are in active addiction and struggling with drug use is emotional and often overwhelming. Loved ones are often over-extended in many areas including having depleted emotional, financial and physical resources. Having spent time with grandparents who are raising grandchildren as a result of the opioid epidemic, many of these caregivers described the heavy toll of caregiving in all of these areas. Self-care, community and connection are as important and helpful for caregivers and loved ones as they are for persons in recovery. As Elliott says, “Caregivers are going through their own series of emotions. PAL groups [Parents of Addicted Loved Ones] can be helpful, and parents can help facilitate these support groups.” 3. Know Your Role – Caregivers, loved ones, parents, siblings and friends all want desperately to help. We want to place phone calls, book beds in rehab facilities, stage interventions and collect information, but knowing when to engage and when to let go are perhaps the most important lessons for loved ones to learn on the path to recovery. One father, when asked what he might say to another parent with a child struggling with addiction, says, “I encourage them there’s hope, but you have to learn to let go, let go of trying to fix them and to control it.” One peer support specialist and mother of a son who died from overdose, Stephanie, says, “When you say you’ll take them to rehab and they keep pushing it off, that person is telling you: I’m not ready. If it’s your decision, there’s a chance it won’t work. If it’s their decision, it might work. You’re putting so much of your heart, mind and soul, hoping, wishing and wanting something that person isn’t willing to do. Your want can’t be more than their want. It has to be their decision.” It's an easy suggestion to make, the idea that we step back from the ones we love and embrace our role as supporters rather than decisionmakers. It can often feel like giving up rather than doing what we most want to do, what we badly ache to do, which is to take action. But, when asked what advice she would give a spouse living with a partner struggling with addiction, mother and widow Amy says, “Support them from a distance. That’s the healthiest way to do it. You can still have contact, but let them figure out what they want to do on their own. You can’t choose that for them. They have to do that on their own.”


The opioid crisis affects not only persons who use drugs and the people closest to them but society as a whole, at both the local level at a much broader, national level. From the neighborhoods we live in, to the classrooms in which our children attend school to the congregations among whom we worship, we are all impacted by the epidemic of addiction plaguing our communities. The question becomes: what can we do to provide support to promote hope and healing throughout our communities? 1. Reduce Stigma – stigma is often identified as one of the primary barriers to treatment and recovery faced by many persons using and/or addicted to opioids. Part of reducing stigma is using respectful language, free from judgement. For example, rather than using the word ‘addict,’ we can simply say ‘person who uses drugs’ or ‘person with substance use disorder.’ The words we use matter in helping reduce the stigma and shame surrounding this disease. Bruce, whose ex-partner suffers with substance abuse disorder, says, “Shame is such a volatile part of that recipe of addiction, getting sucked into that. I imagine if you can slay the dragon of shame, you can repair the rest of the person, but getting past the shame is the hardest part.” As Stephanie, whose son died from overdose, says, “When you take the word addict or junkie out of it, you’re a user. Now I see you as a human bring. When people said Alex was an addict, they didn’t see him as a human being. When you say: Alex uses drugs, then you have a question behind it. Why? Why is he doing that?” Programs like that currently ongoing with FirstHealth of the Carolinas provide stigma training for law enforcement and first responders so they might better understand the epidemic from multiple perspective including those of drug users and caregivers. One father says, “I think, worldwide, the stigma needs to be removed. We all have bad habits – shopping, pride, junk food, whatever it is. I think just embracing it is key. Most communities want to ignore the problem, get rid of drug users, throw them in jail. Maybe the main thing is that the community needs to educate itself about addiction so that we can be more loving to the people struggling with addiction.” 2. Support Pathways for Treatment – Whether it’s through financial means or by donating time and expertise, the pathways to treatment and recovery are varied. Karen Wicker says, “Not one treatment will work for each person. Some people go through several treatments.” Included in recovery is after care, which many experts agree is equally (if not more) important than rehab and detox. One parent agrees, “It’s not rehab programs that define success; it’s the after care. The after care is what is important, and there was none for us.” After care includes out-patient programs, life-skills


Drug-Free Moore County Visit Drug-Free Moore County’s website for resources (including phone numbers, addresses, websites and more) related to recovery, intervention, treatment, support and after care for substance abuse and dependency.

Alcoholics Anonymous (visit the website to find a local meeting/location)

Narcotics Anonymous 888-835-8801/

F3 F3 is a national network of free, peer-led workouts for men. The organization’s mission is to “plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.” The website also has links for women’s programs.

County health departments are also excellent resources for information related to substance abuse, treatment and recovery.

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Reading Resources

Drug-Free Moore County’s Executive Director, Karen Wicker, recommends: The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency Melanie Beattie Why Don’t They Just Quit: Hope For Families Struggling with Addiction Joe Herzanek with Judy Herzanek Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life Tommy Rosen Understanding Addiction and Recovery Through a Child’s Eyes: Hope, Help and Healing for Families Jerry Moe, MA

Editor-in-Chief Amy Phariss recommends: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America Beth Macy In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction Gabor Maté, MD and Peter A. Levine, PhD. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma Bessel van der Kolk, MD | DECEMBER 2019 54

development programs, counseling, support groups, parenting classes and more. Community support and involvement in providing these services is crucial for the ongoing and longterm recovery of substance abuse disorder, from the physical recovery of the person to the mental, emotional and spiritual recovery as well. Programs like F3, Alcoholics Anonymous/ Narcotics Anonymous and local programs such as Moore Family Connections all provide on-going support for recovery and help build coping skills and life skills necessary to live in active recovery. Supporting these programs and helping create other opportunities for support is an important aspect of community involvement. As Wicker notes, “When you’re in active addiction, you do lose your job, your kids and your house. You have to build these skills to go back to a well-functioning life.” As one parent reminds us, “You need a whole team of people if you’re going to climb Mt. Everest. You need Sherpas. You need people who’ve done it before. You need trainers.” Elliott reminds us, “Recovery and treatment is much more complicated than rehab. There is food security, housing, transportation, mental health support, etc. It’s a complicated web of need and support.” 3. See the Hope – With awareness, education and conversations, we learn, as a community, not only the details and statistics of opioid abuse disorder but also the hope for healing and recovery. Wicker says, “Prevention comes with awareness. We’ve got to support the fact that recovery is possible.” Sharing stories of recovery, healing and hope is key in educating the community about the possibility of active recovery and the steps necessary not only to engage in such recovery but to overcome the fear of admitting the need and reaching out for help. Hearing from people who have lived in active recovery and sharing their stories encourages hope within the community. Clint, who lives in active recovery says, “During my addiction, I couldn’t imagine I would be going to college or thinking about planning my life about trying to be an advocate for recovery and for helping people. I didn’t see that I could give back to the world instead of taking from it.” Britteny, now married and able to fully support and care for her two children, says, “Now I’m free. I’m happy. I love life. My eyes are clear. My mind’s clear. I never thought I’d be where I am now.” In sharing their stories, in educating our communities about how we can help and engage, and in exploring ways to promote and encourage hope, we heal from an epidemic that affects us all. The opioid crisis is a multi-faceted crisis deserving a multi-pronged response. As one law enforcement officer told FirstHealth’s Roxanne Elliott, “We’re not going to arrest our way out of this.” We must, as individuals, families and communities, reach out to each other, connect with each other and provide resources, support and hope so that we all heal from the effects of this epidemic and realize our potential removed from addiction and dependency, our potential as human beings rather than statistics.

Chanukah Dreams Judith Ish-Kishor 1894-1970

Chanukah I think most dear Of the feasts of all the year. I could sit and watch all night Every twinkling baby light. Father lights the first one—green; Hope it always seems to mean; Hope and Strength to glow anew

In the heart of every Jew. Jacob lights the blue for Truth. Pink for Love is lit by Ruth. Then the white one falls to me, White that shines for Purity. How the story of those days Fills my wondering heart with praise! And in every flame one sees The heroic Maccabees. DECEMBER 2019 | 55

FORGET ms u l p r e g Su



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December 15 National Cupcake Day

Cupcakes were originally called “Number Cakes” or “1234 Cakes” as an easy way to remember portions: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, one cup of milk, and one spoon of baking soda. The first cupcake recipes were not frosted and were typically flavored with spices or dried fruit. The term ‘cup cake’ comes from the period before muffin tins, when cakes were baked in individual ceramic molds, pottery cups or ramekins. Hostess began mass producing cupcakes in 1919. Popularity grew, and in 1950, the cream-filled cupcakes we now know became a thing. Sprinkles Bakery is the first bakery to sell exclusively cupcakes and opened in 2005. They make over 25,000 cupcakes each day. Sprinkles Bakery also has a cupcake ATM, which can hold up to 350 cupcakes at a time. The record for eating the most cupcakes is 29 cupcakes in 30 seconds. The No. 1 best-selling cupcake flavor in 2019 was Red Velvet followed by chocolate and vanilla. DECEMBER 2019 | 57

They're small. They're sweet. They help make the holidays complete. We love cupcakes! In honor of National Cupcake Day, here are some cupcake recipes that we hope you will love!

Red Velvet YIELDS: 18 INGREDIENTS FOR CUPCAKES 2 c. all-purpose flour 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 3/4 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar 1 c. vegetable oil 2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 tsp. red gel food coloring 1 tsp. cider vinegar 1 c. buttermilk

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

INGREDIENTS FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING 2 c. cream cheese, at room temperature 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 5 c. confectioners' sugar

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DIRECTIONS FOR CUPCAKES Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add sugar and oil and whisk over medium speed until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk again over medium speed, until just incorporated. Add food coloring and whisk until well incorporated. In a liquid measuring cup or other small bowl, stir together vinegar and buttermilk. To sugar and egg mixture, alternate adding flour mixture on low speed and buttermilk mixture until just combined, starting and ending with flour mixture. Line two cupcake pans with enough liners for 18 cupcakes. Fill each two-thirds of the way with batter (for ease, use a cookie or ice cream scoop). Bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes total. Remove and transfer to a baking rack. Let cool completely. To serve, pipe cupcakes with a generous amount of Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkles/additional decoration optional.

DIRECTIONS FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and butter, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed, until completely smooth. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. 2. Turn off mixer and sift in confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time; beat on low speed to start, then increase speed to medium to incorporate each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue adding sugar and mixing until frosting is completely smooth.

YIELDS: 12 INGREDIENTS FOR CUPCAKES 2 eggs, room temperature 1/4 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil 1 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 1 cup all purpose flour 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda pinch of salt 1/2 cup Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature 4 cups powdered sugar 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 2-4 tablespoons Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: 1/4 cup of strong coffee - add to cake batter to enhance the chocolate flavor. smashed peppermint candies - Sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes for a more intense peppermint taste!

DIRECTIONS 1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Line a 12 cupcake pan with baking paper cups. Set aside. 2. In a mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment, add the eggs, oil, sugar, and peppermint extract. Beat until combined. 3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 4. Gently stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the coffee creamer. 5. Mix until just combined. The batter will be thin and runny! 6. Using a large ice-cream scoop, divide the cake batter between the prepared baking cups. 7. Bake in preheated oven for 23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 8. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 9. Once the cupcakes are cooled, make the frosting. 10. In a mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment on, add the butter and cream cheese. 11. Beat on low speed until light and fluffy. 12. Gently, about 1/2 cup at a time, stir in the powdered sugar followed by the cocoa powder. 13. Stir in the peppermint extract and enough coffee creamer to reach desired consistency. 14. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag and decorate the cupcakes. 15. Optional: Sprinkle slivers of peppermint candies on top of frosted cupcakes for a more intense peppermint taste!


DECEMBER 2019 | 59

ChristmasTree Cones YIELDS: 12 INGREDIENTS FOR YELLOW CUPCAKES 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter, slightly softened 1 1/2 cups white sugar 4 whole eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/4 cup milk


YIELDS: 12 INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup sour cream 1 1/3 cups sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/4 cup strong coffee 1/2 cup melted butter, optional INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING AND TREES (If making both Chocolate & Yellow cupcakes, double these ingredients) 12 sugar cones 2 lbs confectioners' sugar 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature 1-2 tbsp milk or cream 1 tsp vanilla extract Green food coloring OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: Confectioner's sugar (for sifting "snow") Red food coloring Ornament shaped sprinkles of choice Candy of choice to fill ice cream cone Marshmallow cream to fill ice cream cone

60 | DECEMBER 2019

DIRECTIONS FOR THE CAKE 1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Add paper liners to cupcake tin. 2. Sift the dry ingredients, including sugar, together in a bowl. 3. Whisk together the "wet" ingredients in a small bowl. You can add in 1/2 cup of melted butter for extra rich cupcakes but it's not a must. 4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture while the mixer is running on low. Mix for a minute or less. 5. Scoop about three tablespoons for each cupcake. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until the center is set. DIRECTIONS FOR THE FROSTING 1. Cream the butter. Add the sugar and mix on high. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. 2. In a separate bowl add about half of the frosting and the green food coloring, mix until combined and desired color achieved. 3. (If you want to use red frosting to make "ornaments" on the tree, reserve a little of the remaining white frosting. You won't need very much compared to the green and white) 1. 2.

3. 4.


DIRECTIONS FOR THE ASSEMBLY Cover the cupcake in white frosting. It doesn't have to be smooth, a bit of texture will make it look more like snow. Use a spatula to apply a thin layer of green buttercream to the surface of the cone. This will help the dollops you apply stick to the cone better as well as making the trees totally green (in case your dollops don't give full coverage). *Optional: You can fill the ice cream cone with candy or marshmallow cream and then place on the cupcake. Use a number 30 tip to pipe star-shaped dollops onto the surface of the cone beginning at the bottom and working to the top. If you don't have a tip, just cut the very tip off of the piping bag to make individual strands. Serve and enjoy! OPTIONAL WAYS TO DECORATE YOUR TREES: Sift confectioners' sugar onto the cupcake to simulate snow. Pipe ornaments on with red frosting. Add your choice of sprinkles to look like ornaments (a star on top for example). *As a fun surprise, fill the ice cream cones with candy or marshmallow cream. It's like a gift within a gift!

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See Grey Matter Puzzle Answers on Page 64

ACROSS 1. A greeting 5. A type of hall 9. Planes need one 11. Wealth 13. The act of exciting 15. A movement downward 16. Type of storage 17. A funny and sad play 19. After cinco 21. Dry white Italian wine 22. Where golfers begin 23. Witnesses 25. Relaxing places 26. Of she 27. Discontinued compact car 29. Resulted 31. Large Irish castle 33. Offer for a price

34. One type is Irish 36. Free-swimming invertebrate 38. A type of tale 39. The middle of the month 41. Christmas 43. ‘__ death do us part 44. Goes with Gomorrah 46. Ethnic group of Thailand 48. “Grown Ups” funnyman 52. A type of index 53. A mass of rocks 54. Splashed 56. Kids’ playground necessities 57. Sears and London are two 58. Strip of cloth 59. Church

DOWN 1. Progressive decay of a bone or tooth 2. Deliberately contrary events 3. Unit of mass 4. Kiln 5. Soybean paste 6. Electronic counter-countermeasures 7. Made the bed 8. One who mails 9. Bar bills 10. Automotive vehicles 11. Breaks 12. Swelling of the eyelid 14. Asian country 15. Couches 18. Stare with mouth wide open 20. Member of U.S. Navy 24. A sulk 26. Greetings 28. Craftsmen 30. Mongolian city __ Bator 32. Did again 34. Sunrooms 35. Start over 37. Georgians love them 38. Women 40. “Snake Tales” cartoonist 42. Pariahs 43. Caps 45. Gradually become less solid 47. Goats 49. French city Le __ 50. Exhale 51. Homes have at least one 55. Type of power cable

62 | DECEMBER 2019


1. Though Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, there is no mention of a date in the Bible. Most historians actually believe Jesus was born in the spring, not the winter. And his birthday itself didn't become the official holiday until the third century. Some historians posit that the date was actually chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn with celebrating and giftgiving. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? 2. The origin of Christmas trees goes all the way back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, who marked the winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder that spring would return soon. But it wasn't until Prince Albert of Germany introduced the tree to his new wife, Queen Victoria, that the tradition really took off. A drawing of the couple in front of a Christmas tree appeared in Illustrated London News way back in 1848 and as we say today, the idea went viral.

3. Nearly 15,000 people visit the ER every year due to holiday-related decorating accidents. If you've ever watched Clark Griswold try to decorate his house in Christmas Vacation (or any number of other holiday movie mishaps), that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,700 people visit hospital emergency rooms each November and December from holiday-related decorating accidents. So please, be careful when you're decking the halls. 4. We ship a crazy amount of packages around the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day last year, the U.S. Postal Service delivered an estimated 850 million packages — in addition to 15 billion pieces of mail. That's including gifts for faraway loved ones, heartfelt cards, letters to Santa, and those dreaded credit card statements after we gleefully charge all of our holiday purchases (oops). So cut your mail carrier some slack; they're really pulling double duty this time of year.

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Traditions Grow and Change


by Ann Robson Holiday traditions are the threads that sew families together from generation to generation. They are soft, silky threads that bend and twist according to time and place. Families adapt and change some traditions but, at their core, you can find the stitches that keep for years and years. We have found that the Thanksgiving feast here is much like the Christmas feast in Canada, our native land. It seems logical that we would share some of the same traditions since both countries have been inhabited by people from the same countries. Timing is everything — Thanksgiving here is close to Christmas and many families have fourday weekends; Thanksgiving in Canada is in October. At Christmas in Canada there is usually at least a four-day time off; in recent years many employers have given their workers the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. Here workers generally have less vacation time.

Our usual routine was to open presents Christmas morning followed by brunch. Then my sister-in-law and I would make sure everything was on schedule for the evening feast. In the ensuing pause, the kids played with their new toys and, starting in 1979, my brother and I would set up a card table and open up the Trivial Pursuit game and proceed to take center stage in a head-to-head competition. In ’79 he had given me the first edition of the game which came out in Canada before arriving here. Since that time our having a game has been the centerpiece of many a family gathering. Over the years we have not kept score but agree that we’re about even. Now our grown children often get in on a few questions, but they are smart enough to know who the real players are.

I imagine that when our children and then the next generation are asked for their memories When two families are connected by marriage there is often of Christmas they are going to moan and say a combination of traditions depending on who did what. “Trivial Pursuit!!!!” My husband’s family was a blend of tradional English and some French. My family tree has many Irish folk who were farmers and urban workers. I think we have managed to mix the two. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy are must-haves. Vegetables and other side dishes depend on personal preferences. Desserts are often served after a break due to their decadence and our already full tummies.

My brother and family alternated hosting Christmas with us for a number of years after we decided it was getting to be too much for our mother. We lived about 200 miles away from home in a snowbelt of northern New York State, and weather was always a concern for those who were traveling. One year, after they arrived with my mother and their three children, we were snowed in. Until the day she died, my mother remembered that as the year we didn’t go to church.

To be fair, we never shirked out duties with other Christmas duties. We merely left the game temporarily and returned to it once the dishes were done. My brother would bring out a cigar and brandy, thus giving me a slight edge. The game, invented by two Montreal reporters, has stood the test of time — and so have we. Warm wishes to all for a happy holiday season. Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She may be reached at .

DECEMBER 2019 | 65


OutreachNC asked adults and children our December question. Share your answer on our Facebook page.

What's a holiday tradition you want to keep going? Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. They’re actually orange-scented breakfast rolls, and I love them. My kids are less enthusiastic, but I still make them with a hope-filled heart every year! – Amy, 44 Presents. I like to wake up to lots of presents. – Jade, 9 Family recipe binder of our favorite meals and all of my top-secret cooking tips and tricks – Ethel, 81 Green bean casserole at Christmas. – Dustin, 26 Having my mom try to create reindeershaped bite marks in the carrots we leave out. – Meredith, 17 Always a nice meal – in or out. When I was young, it was at home with all the traditional dishes. As I got older, we went out and sometimes had lamb ribs instead of turkey or something like that. But a lovely meal is so festive. – Madison, 62 Cutting down the Christmas tree at the farm, in the woods. My dad lets me help and hold the saw. – Jason, 8 66 | DECEMBER 2019

Going out to dinner. – Terry, 74 Opening presents from youngest to oldest. – Courtney, 23 Eating a slice of cold pork pie with HP sauce on Christmas morning. – Evelyn, 80 Spending time with my family. – Sarah Gray, 7 Traveling to NYC to be with my son and his wife on Thanksgiving. For Christmas, it’s bringing out my nutcrackers and remembering the story behind each one when it was received. – Bobbie, 70 Golf Cart Drag Races on Memorial Day. – Deb, 62 My mom making breakfast casserole. – Cameron, 7 Building LEGOS with my boys on Christmas morning. Never gets old, no matter how old we get. – Bruce, 52

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OutreachNC December 2019  

Our Traditions Issue

OutreachNC December 2019  

Our Traditions Issue