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My family of origin always has our biggest gathering on Thanksgiving. My spouse Helen, our son and I pretty much party from then until Helen’s birthday in early January, marking Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Day along the way. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting.

So, once again, we reach the closing of the year.

When I was much younger than I am today, as the scent of the Douglas fir my father set up in the front room would waft through the house and the glow of holiday lights would produce a diffused glow of color against the window blinds on my bedroom, I would find myself making my holiday wish list.

For each of us, the holidays bring up a variety of emotions, associations and expectations. For the luckiest of us, we think of mostly the good stuff: the bright lights of decorations, get-togethers with friends and loved ones and traditions such as eggnog and kissing under mistletoe. For many of us, though, the holidays are significantly more complex. While family can be a point of difficulty no matter who you are or how you identify, for many LGBTQ people family gatherings, and thus the holidays, can be an incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing time.

Q: I’m a gay man in my 40s and I have struggled with credit card debt for years.  Now that I’m making a decent income, I’m determined to get on a better path going into 2019.  Can you please offer me some advice?

A: I’m sure other readers may have similar concerns, and I think it’s great that you’re making a commitment to take some positive steps to improve your situation going into the New Year.  Here are some thoughts to get you started.

Recently, a Dutchman named Emile Ratelband made a bold proclamation: He wanted to legally change his age. At age 69, he claimed that his age made it hard for him to score on dating sites, and requested to be 49 instead.

The Nov. 6 election saw several firsts for LGBTQ parents and our children, along with many other wins that may not have made national headlines. Here’s a broad look at the winners from the more than three dozen queer parents — and one of our kids — who ran.

Regardless of the final outcome of the mid-term elections, the administration has made it clear that they wish to erase transgender people from all federal protections, and have even presumably made overtures to the United Nations to attempt to remove gender from its human-rights documents.

One may have noticed recently an abundance of ads from TV to billboards for Medicare Advantage plans. This signals that Medicare Open Enrollment is upon us. From Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, all Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to decide which type of healthcare coverage they want for 2019. For many, this can be a daunting task given that there are more than 25 (yes, 25!) Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and prescription-drug plans to choose from in Philadelphia alone. But having some information and knowing where to get help can make this process a little easier to handle.

I remember the first time I thought something was very different about me. I was 9 years old, practicing my violin for an upcoming competition and the pressure to perform perfectly loomed. I spent hours alone alternating between crying (at how beautiful the music was) and screaming out loud at myself how horrible I sounded whilst hitting my bow against the music stand (luckily I didn’t break my bow). Somehow, I was aware this wasn’t quite how “regular” people dealt with stress, and though I knew it was odd that I often went from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds, I didn’t know how not to. Growing up, I was continually told I was “highly sensitive” and needed to “develop a tougher skin.” My erratic behavior was seen as an eccentric artistic temperament — and as a child, much was forgiven. In my teens, it was teenaged angst, and occasionally, when I went too far, I was grounded or got detention. I learned how to cope, but the raging storm inside my brain never quite subsided.

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