Every year I set a holiday gift spending budget. Every year, I blow through that budget as I find this gift and that gift that seems just perfect for the recipient.

Likewise, every year, me and my family “ooh and aah” at all the wonderful gifts that are given to us.

And still, every year, my friends, the media, and I complain about the over-commercialization of the holidays. So this year I’m trying a holiday experiment to put more thought and giving into the holiday.

I’m calling it the ‘Bequeathing Christmas’

Instead of buying holiday gifts, this year my family will make personalized gifts or we will bequeath something of value. The item’s monetary value is irrelevant — we will share objects that have an emotional value. It’s the sharing something of great meaning that we want to share with those we love.

It’s also not just re-gifting the stuff from years past that are in the Goodwill pile. It’s searching the house for things that we think the other person will treasure as much as we do.

Another way to look at it, is an early will. How many fights are had over stuff when a person dies? I got my Grandmother’s china because she wanted me to have it. I’m sure one of my army of cousins is upset about that and has just stewed over it for the last 24 years. (PS cuz – if that’s you, LMK, we can work something out).

Let’s face it, as cancer patients and caregivers, we are faced with our mortality. Some of us will survive and some of us won’t. But what if we take the time this holiday to share some of the things that really matter to us before we’re gone. Even if we live another 30 years, then we’ll simply have shared something special and made a good memory.

For instance, my best friend’s daughter just celebrated her first birthday. I pondered the perfect gift for my niece-by-choice-not-relation. One day I looked up at my mantel and saw a silver duck piggy bank that was given to me on my first birthday by family friends. I’ve had the duck since May 1973. It’s moved with me to college, my first NYC apartment and every home since. It reminds me of how loved I was when I was a baby. It suddenly seemed the perfect gift to bequeath to this little girl that brings so much joy to my BFF and my sister-by-choice-not-relation.

To share this message, I sent a semi-presumptuous email to all the lovely friends that have given me and my family gifts in the past. It read:

Dear Friend,

The holiday season is upon us. I never want to presume anyone is thinking of buying me and/or my family a present but, if you’re getting this email, that means you’ve graciously given us a present in the past.

I’m trying a Christmas experiment this year that I invite you to join – Bequeathing Christmas.

Christmas is the time of giving. But sadly that often becomes a time of mass consumerism and maybe if we’re honest — a little greediness. Me included. I blow through the gifting budget every year and I love receiving a well thought out gift. Yet, every year many of us complain about how commercial the holiday has gotten. It’s a vicious cycle of spending too much money and adding things to our overstuffed homes.

So this year, the Whites are trying to put more giving in our Christmas. Instead of buying gifts this year, whenever possible we will make a personalized gift or bequeath something of meaning. This isn’t us picking through the Goodwill pile to see what we can regift, it’s finding things that matter and have stories. Or it’s using our hands to create something custom just for you.

I’m nervous and looking forward to the adventure. I invite you to do the same if you were thinking of gifting someone in my family this holiday.

All our love and giving,

Tracy, Paul & Blake

I have no idea how this experiment will turn out, but I wanted to invite you to ponder a way to share more of your heart this holiday season. Whether you’re in a cancer battle, in remission, or a caregiver, is there a way you can make or bequeath something of value to add more meaning to the gifts you give this year?

No matter what you decide, I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.

By Tracy White

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