50+Living December 2022

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50pluslivingWNC.com December 2022
50+Living Good FOOD Good WINE Good TIMES Breakfast HOLIDAY MUFFINS Local Music Makers
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2 50+ Living | December 2022 Arden 4 Long Shoals Rd. 828-333-4366 Fletcher 3445 Hendersonville Rd. 828-376-3711
December 2022 | 50+ Living 3
5 A Wine Dinner 8 Keep Your House Smelling Great for the Holidays 10 Questions to Assess Elder Care Needs 12 Tis Te Season 13 Breakfast Holiday Mufns 14 Tips to Help You Prepare for Retirement 16 Local Music Makers 18 Christmas as a Couple 20 Signs of a Dysfunctional Family 22 Handwashing at Home and at Play CONTENTS 50pluslivingWNC.com 4 50+ Living | December 2022 Whatever the circumstances, home transitions can be stressful. Our experienced team
here for you. We
828-575-2509 option
CALL FOR A FREE IN-HOME OR VIRTUAL CONSULTATION WNC Bridge FOUNDATION A PARTNERSHIP FOR HEALTH WNCbridge.org Each sale is different, offering something for every taste and budget! To sign up for upcoming sale notifcations go to WNCbridge.org and click on SHOP 2022-DEC DOWNSIZING? MOVING? RELOCATING? HANDLING AN ESTATE? THURSDAY–SATURDAY | 10am–4:30pm SHOP OUR UPCOMING ESTATE SALES! Estate Sales SERVICES DEC 1–3 15–17 FEB 9–11 23–25 WNC Bridge Foundation Estate Sales and Thrift Stores are friendly, upbeat places to volunteer. Folks of all walks and ages are making a positive impact in our community. Choose your own adventure! Interact with customers and clients by packing estates, stocking shelves, ringing up purchases. Or work in the wings sorting donations and organizing housewares, rugs, furniture, art, linens, clothing, and other hidden treasures. Determine your own schedule—a couple of hours, couple of days, or more. WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEE RING AND THE WORK OF WNC BRIDGE FOUNDATION? Call 828.575.2509 or go to WNCbridge.org and click on the Volunteer link. We are looking for VOLUNTEERS WNC Bridge FOUNDATION JAN 12–14 26–28
have helped thousands of area clients pack, move, and liquidate
household items, jewelry, and artwork. Whether you’re moving, settling an estate, or just want to streamline your life, we can make the process easier.
NC 28803

A Wine Dinner

A Wine Dinner is a culinary symphony where dishes are paired perfectly with various wines.

At the best dinners, the Chef tastes the wines to be served frst and then prepares dishes that call upon those favors that will accentuate both the wine and food. No doubt, these pairings will present options that may have never occurred to you or seem to be very unlikely to succeed!

At Metro Wines, we regularly host Wine Dinners in the shop amidst our collection of wines from around the world in a comfortable library-like atmosphere. And this month is no exception. Please join us for Te French Fête for the Holidays, a Wine Dinner partnering Chef Sam Etheridge of AMBROZIA and Asheville based Wine Importer Jean Philippe Bourgeois. Now, that’s a perfect pairing!

JP Bourgeois travels and searches out rare French handcrafed wines produced on small family estates. Many of the wineries have been operating for hundreds of years. By working with small, family-owned estates, JP Bourgeois not only ensures the wine is high quality for you but also supports a way of life, care, concern and tradition that has been handed down through generations.

“Every estate’s wines change from one year to another depending on the characteristics of the harvest, the soil, weather, geology, varietals and the style.” says

JP Bourgeois. So that even if the producer uses the same plot of land, each vintage will present unique characteristics. When you join us for a wine dinner with JP Bourgeois, although his company distributes in 35 states, he lives locally and is always present to tell the complete story of the wine including the history of the winery, the credentials of the winemaker, and maybe, a little inside information!

Chef Sam Etheridge was the chef and owner at AMBROZIA, a highly regarded and wildly popular restaurant in North Asheville a few years back. Since then, he has been bringing his magic to catering, preparing innovative dishes based on local foods. “I have a passion for wine and love to explore food pairings,” says Sam Etheridge. “Metro Wines provides a forum for the best of both worlds.” Much missed, AMBROZIA returns @Metro Wines for wine pairing dinners. Te philosophy at Metro Wines is that wine is about food, family, friends and community and a Wine Dinner hits on all cylinders. Diners will fnd interesting and innovative wine and food pairings, recipes and conversation starters for their own tables. You might also share a table with friends or meet new neighbors who share your interests in wine and food. And you might consider a Wine Dinner as a gif anytime but certainly at the holidays.

Julia Child said: “Food, like people who eat it, can be stimulated by wine or spirits. And, as with people, it can be spoiled.” Join us for Te French Fête on December 15th @Metro Wines and fnd out how to do it right!

Metro Wines Asheville Charlotte Street! It’s the Next BIG Thing! “Big Shop Selection. Small Shop Service” 828-575-9525 | metrowinesasheville.com

December 2022 | 50+ Living 5
6 50+ Living | December 2022 50+Living of Western NC PUBLISHER Tammy Sheppard tsheppard.avlmedia@gmail.com GRAPHIC ARTIST Joan Hutt WEB DESIGN Alphie Hyorth CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Peggy Ratusz Laurie Richardone Gina Trippi ADVERTISING INQUIRIES Mike Demos 828.273.0098 mikedemos@aol.com Bridget Hepler 828.551.9893 brisdon00@gmail.com AVL Media Inc. P.O. Box 18416 | Asheville, NC 28814 828.230.7537 All advertising published in 50+Living of Western NC is believed to be truthful and accurate. However AVL Media, Inc. assumes no responsibility and shall have no liability whatsoever for errors, including without limitation, typographical errors or omissions in 50+Living
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National Car Donation Month:

Your generous vehicle donation will beneft a local Western North Carolina family –getting them on the road to work, further education, important medical appointments, visits with loved ones, and so much more.

We’ll accept and assess your donated vehicle–in any condition–and complete necessary repairs before matching it with a WNC family in need of safe and reliable transportation.

Any vehicle that cannot be repaired will be used as a parts donor to refurbish other cars in our program or sold at wholesale value with all proceeds going toward our mission.

Working Wheels provides afordable and reliable transportation options to working families in WNC–you make it possible!

“Two years ago, I was homeless. Tanks to someone donating their car to Working Wheels, I have a great job and I have just bought my frst house. Being able to drive to a good, steady job made all the diference.”

Amber, Working Wheels Participant

December 2022 | 50+ Living 7

How to Keep Your House Smelling Great for the Holidays

Tere are many delightful scents associated with the holidays. Te aroma of fresh-baked pumpkin pie and homemade cookies makes your home feel inviting. However, you don’t have to bake every day to fll your house with holiday fragrances. Here are a few ways to keep your house smelling pleasantly festive throughout the holiday season.


Scented candles are a holiday staple in many homes. Tey add warmth, color, and fragrance to any room. Although there are many wonderful holiday scents, pine, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint, and pumpkin spice are among the favorites. Choose your favorites and place them around your home.


Potpourri is another way to add scent and festivity to your home during the holidays. You can purchase dried potpourri and add a few drops of your favorite holiday essential oil to enhance the fragrance. You can use potpourri for a table centerpiece or place it in pretty baskets throughout the house.

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Essential oils are a great way to fll your house with holiday fragrances. Use a festive essential oil such as cinnamon in your difuser and let the fragrance waf through the air. If you have more than one difuser, use one on the main foor and one upstairs to get the full efect of holiday fragrance throughout the house.


Keep the bathroom fragrant by adding holiday guest soaps in pine, cinnamon, or your favorite scent. You can purchase them in holiday shapes and colors that will match your bathroom decor. Place several of them in a decorative bowl or basket. You can choose a single holiday fragrance or mix and match holiday scents & colors.


Cinnamon sticks can add a decorative touch and aromatic fragrance to your home. You can add cinnamon sticks to a holiday wreath by tying them onto the wreath with pretty colorful ribbons. You can wrap single cinnamon sticks or bundles with ribbon and hang them on the tree. Decorate mason jars with holiday wrapping paper and ribbon, then fll them with cinnamon sticks. You can place them on tables or mantles for a pleasant holiday fragrance. Be creative and fnd ways to use cinnamon sticks in your home.


You can also add holiday fragrance while doing your regular household chores like vacuuming. Using a carpet deodorizer can leave your whole house smelling fragrant. You can also use a fabric spray to freshen your furniture and drapes.

Tese are just a few ways to spread holiday fragrances throughout your home. However, the most inviting aromas come from the kitchen. Not only do they smell good, but they’re tasty too.

December 2022 | 50+ Living 9


to Ask Elderly Relatives to Assess their ELDER CARE NEEDS

When helping elderly parents, relatives, and friends take stock of their caregiving and living situation needs, it is important to help them ask (and answer) some appropriate starter questions.

Although many people will resist speaking about their needs and their plans for growing older, it is important to have loving and open conversations on these subjects

long before decisions and changes must be made. If you discuss any (or all!) of the following questions with your loved ones, it will help all of you be more prepared for life’s changes and uncertainties, particularly when facing chronic illnesses or challenges due to aging.

1. How are you feeling?

Assessing an aging person’s general health and wellbeing is one of the most important questions to ask. Asking this question on a regular basis can help you get the “big picture” of any daily health struggles or concerns they might be having.

Whatever answers you receive, you might have to play detective. Te elderly ofen display nonspecifc symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness, all of which can signal a wide variety of health issues. You don’t have to diagnose their issues, but over the course of weeks and months you can learn which health issues are challenging your loved one the most. Tose are the issues you need to address when accompanying your loved one in health care situations, or when making calls to health care staf on their behalf.

2. Is there anything I can help you with while I’m here?

As individuals age, many of them make no future plans other than hoping to “age in place,” or stay indefnitely in their own homes. Tis is not always possible. Asking regularly what they would most like to help with not only assists the person you are caring for in the moment, it will also help you learn what activities of daily life they are most struggling with.

For some, it may be safety and mobility issues. For others, it might be worsening vision or hearing. Still others will sufer from loneliness and the stress that living alone can cause. Not everyone will be comfortable asking for help, but may accept help when it is more proactively ofered.

Depending on your relative’s or friend’s answers, you can help them immediately, and you can also learn to anticipate some of their future needs. For those who need more help walking, you might ofer to get them a cane or a walker. For those with low vision, you can assist them with learning about low vision aids and other tools.

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3. What would you like to do today?

Assessing a person’s interests and plans for the future can be tricky in the best of times. Asking more pointed questions about someone’s feelings about long-term or assisted living care can result in defensive answers that the person has no plan other than aging in place.

Of course, that is not always possible. But by asking a person on a regular basis what they would like to do, or where they would like to go, you can learn what is really most important to them in terms of their surroundings. Do they just want to be lef alone to listen to audiobooks? Would they enjoy an outing to a restaurant or to a Bingo game? Would they prefer to take a walk, or simply sit outdoors and enjoy nature?

Make a note of these preferences. If it becomes necessary that your loved one must consider living in a care facility, knowing their preferences for home amenities, socialization opportunities, and facility settings will all help you choose the best possible ft for the elderly person you are assisting. When the time comes they may still resist the move, but if you are well

informed on their personal likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of making an easier transition into a senior care setting.

Aging presents specialized challenges for everyone. If you are assisting an elderly relative or a friend, it is best to ask these friendly questions on a regular basis. Knowing a person well and having previously explored their personal likes, dislikes, and quirks, can help you and them make a more-informed decision when a move to a diferent living situation becomes necessary.

December 2022 | 50+ Living 11

Tis the Season

Tis is the season of generosity, gratitude, and grace. It is a wonderful time of the year to bring out our best selves. Along with those virtues, I would like to invite you to look at the holidays through another lens.

Te lens of scent, taste, and fond memories. Whether we are spending the holidays with friends, family, or by ourselves with our beloved pet, there is always something delightful to bring to the table with a little slice of joy.

I realize not everyone embraces this time of year. It can bring up unfavorable past experiences and emotions. However, If we dig a little deeper we can fnd moments where we have experienced a happy time. I can remember frosty winters in Brooklyn at my grandmother’s house, surrounded by other worldly snowfakes that stuck to our eyelashes and tongues. Tese magical fakes created four foot drifs of snow. It felt like time stood still, just to make the perfect igloo to have snowball fghts with my cousins.

Hours later, we were summoned into the scented house by my grandmother, for a hot steaming bowl of minestrone soup, freshly baked bread, and homemade mufns with nuts & dates. I make a gluten-free version of those scrumptious mufns to this day. I am delighted to share the recipe with you. Perhaps some of my happy memories in my grandmother’s kitchen will overfow into yours.

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and think about the colors, smells, and tastes that made you happy as a kid. What are some of your favorite holiday foods? We all have them, however modest. I encourage you to include some of them at your holiday table this season.

Some of the best ways to entertain can be simple.

Whether we live alone or have a full house, we can sprinkle a little love on the table. I have a beautiful ritual even if I’m cooking for myself.

I start by setting the table with a linen napkin rolled up with a freshly cut sprig of rosemary tied around it. I light some candles. Te ambiance is completed with tunes of Nat King Cole piped in. To me an evening of happy dining and soulful conversation can take the place of just about any other form of entertainment. Even if you are talking to your four legged friends.

Tips for Entertaining with Ease.

• You don’t have to be perfect when you’re cooking, keep it simple.

• Prep a day or two ahead, and label items to keep things organized.

• Make some of your favorites dishes that you are comfortable preparing.

Receive a complimentary Holiday Appetizer ebook @LaurieRichardone.com

I wish you a happy, healthy, holiday ~ Laurie

If you are a curious person join me on my Podcast ~ a taste for all seasons Listen to the latest episode. Te Benefts Of Dinners For One~ Get my scrumptious turkey meatball recipe.

All shows on LaurieRichardone.com ~ or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Now Available ~ Online Cooking Class Series ~ Gluten - Free Italian Cooking Tis course will open delicious new opportunities in your kitchen. @LaurieRichardone.com/challenges

Laurie Richardone is an inspirational seasonal chef and certifed health coach.

To work with Laurie, visit LaurieRichardone.com

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Breakfast Holiday Mufns

Tese moist mufns are wonderful to serve for a holiday breakfast or brunch. Tey are high in protein, healthy fats, and perfectly sweet.

Makes 12 Muffns

Dry Ingredients

2 ½ cups almond four, fne ¾ cup coconut sugar, or monk fruit for keto

1 ½ tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ¼ tsp. sea salt

Wet ingredients

2 eggs, or unsweetened apple sauce for vegan (¼ cup applesauce for each egg)

¼ cup + 2 tbsp. coconut oil for muffn cups ¼ cup water 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Additional ingredients

1 ½ cups fnely grated carrots ¼ cup medjool dates, pitted, & chopped (soak in hot water for 10 minutes)

¼ cup chopped walnuts, extra for topping

Preheat the oven to 350

Muffn Method

Mix all the dry ingredients until well combined. Mix all the wet ingredients until well combined. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until completely incorporated.

Add in the grated carrots. Add in ¼ cup of chopped walnuts. Add in the soaked, pitted, chopped, medjool dates. Mix well.

Line 12 muffn tins with parchment paper cups. Oil each one with the extra coconut oil.

I like to use a plastic pastry bag to pipe in the batter. You can use a large ziplock bag, and snip the tip off to release the batter into the cups. Fill ¾ of the cup. An ice cream scooper works well too. Sprinkle the extra walnuts on top of each muffn. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Laurie Richardone is a seasonal gluten free chef and certifed health coach.

To work with Laurie, visit LaurieRichardone.com

December 2022 | 50+ Living 13

Tips to Help You Prepare for Retirement

Retirement is a time of transition, during which you change gears and alter your focus. Te tempo of your life may change, but it doesn’t have to mean you become cut of from the mainstream of life or you’ll have to learn to live on a shoestring. Good planning can make the transition period to retirement easier and can help you fnd fulflling ways to spend your expanded free time. Here are some tips that can ensure your retirement transition goes smoothly, both fnancially and psychologically.

Calculate Your Expected Retirement Income

Te Social Security Administration website has a wealth of information about what benefts you can expect to receive and the ages at which you will be eligible. In addition, the site ofers helpful advice to assist individuals in making the most of the program.

You should also look into pensions or other compensation you may be entitled to afer you retire. Tese measures will give you a good understanding of how to arrange your budgeting during retirement.

Consider Downsizing Your Housing

Housing can be a considerable expense during retirement. Staying in your current home can be a good option if you have paid of your mortgage amount. However, the ongoing costs of maintenance on a large home can put a strain on retirement income. It may be a better option to downsize to a smaller home to shrink maintenance expenses and allow you to do some tasks yourself.

Find Ways To Cut Your Expenses For Retirement

A careful look at your household expenses can usually fnd a variety of ways to cut monthly costs. You may be willing to “cut the cord” from cable TV into a more costefective option. You can explore local supermarkets to fnd the best prices on grocery items. Many communities ofer monthly payment plans for electricity that spread your expenses more evenly throughout the year. You can review your insurance costs to fnd lower premiums. You can eliminate lawn care expenses by doing the work

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yourself. You can also take advantage of the many resale shops that are available in many communities that ofer a wide range of items.

Look For Opportunities For Additional Income

Many seniors choose to work afer retirement from their usual jobs, whether because of a need for more income or from the psychological need to be part of the mainstream, be among other people, and do productive work. Many companies appreciate the reliability and experience that older people bring to the workplace and ofer opportunities for retirees. Telecommuting has made fnding work opportunities during retirement simpler and more rewarding. Explore these options if you are interested in increasing your income.

Pre-Pay Expenses Where You Can

Te period before retirement can be a good time to think about expenses that may arise that you might consider pre-paying. You may be in a position to pay of your mortgage. If you plan to stay in your home, you can replace the HVAC system, water heater, or older appliances to avoid these expenses later on. You can also pay of your car loans ahead of schedule. Some people get

a jump on dental expenses they know may be upcoming. You might think about having your vehicle refurbished or buying a newer, more efcient model of car. You might wish to pre-pay funeral expenses to avoid having a spouse or children worry about the expense. Tese measures can help to start your retirement in a more desirable fnancial condition.

Research Hobbies and Activities To Give Your Days Some Structure

Many people fnd the change from a normal work schedule to retirement a difcult transition. Psychologically, it’s important to have activities to look forward to and to provide a feeling of structure and purpose to your days. You can sign up for classes that interest you, get more involved in clubs and sports, or look into volunteer opportunities in your community. Tese actions can provide a feeling of new beginnings instead of a closing out of your former lifestyle.

Getting through any major life change requires some thought and planning to reduce disruptions and provide a sense of comfort and control. Tese tips will help you to make the change to “retiree” a smooth and successful event.

December 2022 | 50+ Living 15

Local Music Makers

…..Tat’s how I introduce Zack whenever he plays with me. He is hands down, no bout a-doubt it, the most sought afer musician in town.

Te reasons area band leaders solicit his services is because A) he’s an INCREDIBLY versatile player with aptitude and feel oozing out of his pours B) he does his homework C) he stays ready to for whatever you throw at him C) he’s an exceptional chart reader D) he gets along with everyone.

I wish I could remember the frst gig or show I shared the stage with Zack. But I can tell you that each and every time I get a chance to hire him, it’s a better show for having him.

Born in Virginia, raised in rural Ohio and New Jersey (which he clarifes was not the stereotypical New Jersey), his father’s diligence in navigating his best options for employment resulted in the family moving a few times during his early years.

I was unprepared, caught of guard when Zack revealed that his mother Sarah had no idea she was pregnant with twins until the day he was born. First his identical twin brother Andy came out; then; wait! Hold the phone calls to the relatives Dad, there’s another baby in there!

From the womb to college dorm room, Andy and Zack were practically inseparable. “Tere was always a lot of music in our house. My dad, Pete is not a musician, but he’s a huge music history and music

fan, he’s especially into the Blues. My mom is a descendant from a long lineage of a traditional, deeply rooted old time music family called the McGhees from Mount Pilot, NC. Growing up she was an avid church goer and was in the choir. Te name of the street we lived on was ‘Rock Rd’ so my destiny was paved, as it were. Tere were a bunch of kids living on that street and in that neighborhood. A lot of my older brother Sam’s friends started getting into playing guitars at the same time. I was amazed how good some of them were for sixth graders. Andy and I were hooked and wanted to join the jams. All the kids on our street listened to 70s and 80s hard rock and metal. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Black Sabbath. So it was the frst music, other than what my parents played in the house that we listened to and were interested in. I guess I just liked the ferocity of it and the conviction in which the players played and portrayed themselves. Tough my interest in the genre is mostly nostalgic nowadays, metal players are the only ones, to me, that are doing something new and exciting with the genre.”

He and his brothers did really well in school so the natural next step was college. Tough Zack “begrudgingly” agreed to go, in the end he was happy with his choice to major in Music at UNC Wilmington, graduating summa cum laude. “In Wilmington there were a lot of opportunities too, for underage musicians to gig at bars and restaurants.” I was curious to know the reasons he chose bass (both string and electric). Zack explains: “One of my dad’s favorite bands is Booker T. & the M.G. ‘s and his all-time favorite bass player is Duck Dunn. I always remember him telling me

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“Give a warm welcome to, ‘bass player to the stars, Mr. Zack Page’….”
photos  by the late Frank Zipperer

that ‘every good band needs a good bass man.’ So for our 12th Christmas, he gave me a bass and Andy a guitar.” I’d say ole Pete got it right!

Zack’s endearment toward his immediate family is evident throughout our conversation. His father’s love of music and infuence is woven throughout the interview. Te admiration he feels toward his dad’s passion for music is palpable. “Te list of concerts he’s been to is a mile long. He hung out with Ray Charles and Willie Nelson back in the day and has tons of cool stories about nearly every show.”

As a side note for our readers who are 50+ and ‘living,’ Zack’s mom and dad joined a platform called “Storyworth.” “Storyworth is the easiest way to record family stories and print them in beautiful hardcover books. Every week, Storyworth asks your loved one a question about their life. Tey reply with a story via email or the website, and at the end of a year, all of their stories are printed into a book.” Zack’s parents have shared with the family some of their weekly entries as a way to preserve their lives’ most poignant, precious and pivotal moments.

We delve into the mechanics and the passion that’s needed to reach profciency on an instrument. Obviously practicing is a huge component, but for Page, it was the infuence and the admiration he had for his 4 minutes older twin, Andy, that kept him inspired and motivated. And he attributes the rest of it to the public schools in New Jersey. “Tese school districts are well funded so the music programs are really supported. Andy and I were in the marching band, and we had our choice to take any number of other electives like orchestra, Jazz band, chamber orchestra and we even had a TV station.”

A detour by way of Los Angeles found him playing with popular touring and local jazz bands in the 1990’s. “It was really, really good musically for me. It was the frst time in my life I was able to practice 6 hours a day. I was thrown into the fre, into the proverbial sink or swim situations so I learned voicings and patterns and intonations for jazz oriented music fairly quickly. As socially and racially screwed up as Los Angeles was at the time, the music scene

was super integrated. I was the only white member of a big band orchestra and spent many nights having dinner with my band mate’s family and it opened me up to many new concepts and beliefs.” Afer his stint in California, he moved to Boone/Blowing Rock, NC where Andy and his parents had moved. He met and played with dozens of musicians that would also later relocate to Asheville.

It’s around this time, 1997 that he meets the love of his life, Andrea. “I couldn’t do what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Andrea. Her willingness to maintain a solid career path is something I don’t and will never take for granted.” Te unpredictable nature of life and money can make being married to a professional, full time musician challenging. It’s not lost on Mr. Page how fortunate he is to have Andrea. In prayerlike solemnity, we both feel how fortunate all of us married musicians are, for having the support of our spouses and the stability that their mainstream jobs and careers aford us.

In every corner of the local music scene, you won’t hear a bad word being said about Zack Page. He is goofy, irreverent at times, empathetic and available. Te 3 things people say about him, sometimes even before they rave about his abilities as a musician, is that he’s a devoted, loving husband and father to two girls, Caroline and Josie.

Te lessons Zack is still learning through music and the experiences he has playing with a plethora of groups, personalities and genres has set him up to be the quintessential sideman that he is today.

His December schedule so you can hear him live: Dec. 7 Hard Bop Explosion, GiGi’s Underground, 7pm Dec. 16 Alien Music Club: JP and Friends, Isis Music Hall, 7pm Dec. 23 A Jazz Piano Christmas with the Bill Bares Trio, Isis Music Hall, 8:30pm Dec. 26 Te Core, Little Jumbo, 7pm

Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach, song interpreter, and songwriter. For vocal coaching email her at peggymarie43@gmail.com

December 2022 | 50+ Living 17

Christmas as a Couple

Romantic Ideas to Make Your First Holiday Extra Special

When you were a child you looked forward to Christmas morning with every fber of your being. You went to bed early, tried to sleep and listened intently for the telltale sounds of hoof beats on the roof. When Christmas morning fnally arrived, you reveled in the bounty, but now you are all grown up and the season is even more special.

If you are celebrating your frst Christmas as a couple, you want to make the season memorable and special. Tis is the frst Christmas with your sweetheart, and it is one you will remember all your life. Here are some romantic ways to make the day, and the season, extra special.

Create a memory wall. As the years go by, your walls may be flled with family photographs, but for now, a memory wall will have to do. Printing out your save the dates, reception menus, and other mementoes and framing them will give your frst Christmas together a special look and feel.

Make time for a romantic Christmas Eve meal by candlelight. Te holiday meal is a big part of the Christmas celebration, but the night before can be even more special. A lovely meal by candlelight is the perfect way to spend your frst Christmas Eve as a couple.

Warm up by the freplace. Tere is nothing quite like a warm fre on a cold winter night, especially when you are with the person you love. Spending a night by the fre is a great way to celebrate your frst holiday together.

Order a bottle of wine with a custom label. Tere is nothing like a glass of great wine to jump-start your holiday

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celebration, especially if the bottle bears a custom label. You can order a bottle of wine with a label emblazoned with your wedding date, creating a keepsake that will be enjoyed long afer the vino is gone.

Share your favorite holiday memories. You may be together now, but you have experienced many Christmases separately. Tose childhood memories can be shared and enjoyed all over again, so spend a fun winter day swapping stories and getting to know one another even better.

Create a family holiday recipe cookbook. Whether you love to cook or view it as a chore, you will be creating lots of amazing meals with your lifelong partner. Why not spend your frst Christmas together compiling those special family recipes, the ones that have been passed down through the generations?

Create a keepsake ornament. Your frst Christmas tree together will be extra special, so why not top it of with a lovely keepsake ornament? You can create a keepsake ornament from a favorite photograph, a special memory, or anything else that is meaningful to you and your beloved.

Take a sleigh ride together. Some holiday activities are so iconic they have literally been memorialized in song. It may be corny, but that does not make a holiday sleigh ride together any less fun, so why not indulge yourself on your frst holiday together?

Talk about your favorite holiday traditions - and make some of your own. Tere is something special about holiday traditions, and now you can make some new ones of your own. Spending a lazy winter evening sharing favorite traditions is a great way to enjoy your frst holiday together.

Volunteer for a good cause. Tere are plenty of ways to give back during the holidays, and volunteering together is the perfect way to make some memories and share all the great things you have been given. From wrapping presents at the mall to serving meals at the downtown shelter, volunteering together feels great.

Te holiday season is always a special time of year, but there is something extra special about your frst Christmas as a couple. With romance in the air and feelings of love and warmth everywhere you turn, you have a perfect chance to create lifelong memories, ones you will cherish through all your years together.

December 2022 | 50+ Living 19

Signs of a Dysfunctional Family

Growing up in a dysfunctional family can have a signifcant and long-lasting impact on your life.

Dysfunction in a family is the result of unhealthy dynamics and interactions between family members, leading to unhelpful behaviors, negative attitudes, and strained relationships. Tey may not be perfect, but most families do love one another.

A dysfunctional household consists of family members who exhibit codependent or enabling behavior instead of healthy habits. Tese dysfunctional patterns are ofen rooted in past trauma or unresolved issues that create barriers to trust, loyalty, and honesty within the family dynamic. If you recognize any of these signs in your own home, know that you are not alone. Many people grow up with similar experiences. It’s never too late to work toward rebuilding trust and strengthening relationships with loved ones.

Defning Dysfunctional Families

A dysfunctional family is one in which the interactions and communications between family members cause distress and unhappiness, leading to serious emotional and mental health issues for members. Dysfunctional families are characterized by a lack of mutual respect, hostility, and a general disregard for one another’s

feelings. Dysfunctional families are ofen very highconfict households, where parents or siblings argue ofen or even violently. Te members of a dysfunctional family may exhibit avoidance or denial when confronted with the reality of their situation.

Dysfunctional families are extremely common, and many people grow up in them without ever realizing that they have the power to change their situation. People who come from dysfunctional families ofen feel ashamed of their situation, leading them to keep their experiences hidden.

Constant Confict and Fighting

Confict is a normal part of life, and it’s ofen a sign that people care enough about something to argue about it. In a healthy family, there will be occasional arguments and disagreements, but they’ll be resolved quickly. When fghting in your household becomes a consistent pattern, it’s a sign that the relationship between family members has become unhealthy. When parents are constantly bickering or fghting with each other, it indicates that their relationship is dysfunctional.

Children learn confict resolution and communication skills by example, so when parents can’t resolve their

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own issues, their children are unlikely to learn how to do so either. If you notice signifcant confict in your household, it’s important to speak up.

Using Negativity to Communicate

Parents who grew up in a dysfunctional family were likely raised by adults who modeled unhealthy communication patterns. Tese negative communication methods are ofen passed on to their children. Negative communication patterns include things like arguing, name-calling, and using insults. Children who grow up using negativity as a primary method of communication will likely use this pattern as adults. Negative communication ofen stems from feelings of anger or resentment. It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling these emotions and fnd constructive ways to deal with them.

Dishonesty and Lack of Trust

If your family is constantly lying to one another, it indicates that the people in your household don’t trust one another. Dishonesty and lack of trust are ofen warning signs of dysfunction. When parents lie to their children, it teaches them that it’s acceptable to deceive others. Parents who lie about their work, love lives, or fnancial situations are telling their children that it’s okay to keep secrets from one another. Children who grow up in a home with a high degree of dishonesty will likely use this pattern as adults. Tey’ll be less likely to trust their partners, friends, and co-workers. Tey’ll likely fnd themselves in unhealthy and unfulflling relationships because they don’t know how to put their trust in others.

Equating Abuse with Love

It’s possible that you grew up in a home where you were regularly mistreated or abused. If your parents abused you and it’s something that you have a hard time coming to terms with, it’s important to remember that abuse is not love. When parents mistreat their children, it’s not a sign of their love for them. It’s a sign that they’re emotionally stunted, unable to properly raise and care for their children.

As a child, you had no control over your situation. You were at your parents’ mercy, so you did the best you could with the knowledge and skills that you had. It’s completely understandable if you still have difculty coming to terms with this as an adult. Unfortunately,

many children who are mistreated grow up to mistreat their own children. If you still struggle with mistreatment or abuse, it’s important to seek help and support.

Escaping Through Food

Some families are so dysfunctional that they lead their children to self-destruction, and one of the most common signs of this is an unhealthy relationship with food. When you notice that your family members regularly over-eat, it’s likely a sign of escaping through food. Eating more than your body needs is a way of escaping your pain and discomfort. It can also be a sign of low self-esteem. It’s important to recognize if you or someone you love is regularly engaging in unhealthy eating habits. Parents who were overweight or obese children are more likely to over-eat as adults, and that pattern can be passed down to their children.

Understanding Normal

It’s important to note that most families are somewhat dysfunctional. Some researchers suggest that the average family is dysfunctional to some degree. Yet, there’s a signifcant diference between a slightly dysfunctional family and one that is seriously dysfunctional. It’s normal for families to have squabbles and minor disagreements. If your family is consistently falling apart or struggling to get through their days, there may be a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

If you’re unsure whether your family is dysfunctional, try keeping a journal for a couple of weeks and write down the things you notice about your household. What types of fghting are happening? What types of communication are occurring? Are there any patterns you can identify? Learn to recognize patterns and cycles of dysfunction.


Every family has its own set of issues to deal with, but when those issues are causing signifcant harm to the people within the family unit, it’s important to address them. Te frst step to changing a dysfunctional household is identifying the issues. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to work on repairing the relationships within your family. It won’t happen overnight, but with time and efort, you can repair broken relationships and create a healthier environment for everyone in your family.

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