What is gift-blitzing?

My intent was to honor my husband on this anniversary of his Homegoing. And so I ordered dozens of pumpkin-flavored mini-cakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café.

Ida’s Cupcakes (all photos: Marlys)

The idea came from one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp. She wrote about how she and her family spent her fortieth birthday dropping off love at various places around town. They delivered homemade cookies and store-bought goodies to the nurses on the pediatric floor and the town office; they filled Mason jars with flowers from their farm and visited shut-ins. They bought groceries for a food bank, paid the restaurant bill of an unsuspecting diner, left tennis balls at the tennis courts, and tucked $1 bills into every aisle at the Dollar Store.

Ann didn’t write about her family’s shenanigans for personal accolades, but to say that she battles depression regularly and on this particular day — a milestone birthday — the plans were to bombard the entire town with love.

She called it gift-blitzing.

Could there be a better way to spend time and find the meaning of being and celebrate another birthday than to break through the anxiety that keeps a life bound and small?

Which inspired me to commemorate the anniversary of the day Gary left his cancer-ridden body for fullness of health and life in heaven. 

To go with the cupcakes, I baked chocolate chip cookies. And toasted sweet & spicy walnuts. And knitted. And gift-wrapped. And tied on ribbons.

I wrote thank-you notes and dropped off love at:

Deschutes National Forest Administration who manage the wilderness trails on which Gary and I made so many ridiculously happy memories

Bend Parks & Rec with their upkeep of numerous trails in and around Bend (see above about the memories)

New Hope Church staff

St. Charles Cancer Center staff

The hospice team at Partners in Care and Hospice House

FootZone, the downtown athletic gear store, and fearless leader, Michelle, who sponsored and facilitated the Walking-4-Wellness cancer-kicking posse

But this seemed incomplete.

Because there were so many astonishing, fierce, tenacious friends and family who made a difference in our lives—too many to stop by with gifts and thank-you notes now, four years later—but please know you made a difference.

You made a difference with your flowers, and gift cards, and books, and candles, and mismatched socks.

You made a difference with your toilet plungers, and snow-shovels, and tire repair, and covering for me at work, and paying for cable during football season.

You made a difference with your daily delivery of Chai tea.

You made a difference with your homemade soup in Mason jars, entire hand-crafted meals, dessert breads and scones and pumpkin pie, and gift baskets stuffed with dried fruits, salty pretzels, and dark chocolates.

To each of you, thank you. Just … thank you.

One final thought …

When I set about planning, my intent was to honor Gary, to acknowledge and thank people, and maintain an outward focus on this anniversary of his passing.

Having fun wasn’t on the agenda. Turns out, though, the gift-blitzing was outlandishly fun. I was giddy the entire morning while making deliveries.

Ann Voskamp summed up her turning-forty experience:

Honestly, this birthday spent gift-blitzing the whole town seemed ridiculously small and insignificant. Beginnings always are, I suppose. First steps always seem like not enough, but they are the bravest and they start the journey to where you’re meant to go.

Where I was meant to go on this day—November 17—was to honor and thank people who helped make a difference in my husband’s quality of life, and in mine, during the cancer years.

Thank you, family, central Oregon friends, medical teams, agencies, and businesses. Gary and I could not have lived so fully and so well on this hard journey without the part you played.

P.S. If you think gift-blitzing sounds like a fun idea, please share, tweet, or pin!


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  1. Grace Lawson

    You are a gem Dear Marlys. Again, God bless you richly as you bless others !!!

  2. Kathi

    Love the gift blitz idea. As always a fabulous article Marlys.

  3. Peggy

    Thanks Marlys. I love hearing about your loving gestures!

  4. I like this idea. And it seems it was very cathartic for her which I imagine was a great gift for her loved ones, when her depression lifted. Marlys, have a blessed, peaceful and loving Thanksgiving.

    • I think you’re right, Marcia: A very cathartic experience for the author (which is certainly was for me). Wishing you and yours many Thanksgiving blessings!

  5. Peter

    May be you could call my methodology ‘gift blitzing’, however my opportunity to give something away is more a ‘happening moment’. So, for 30 or so years I’ve taken bicycles from folks who didn’t want them anymore, usually in a pretty sad state. I’d give them some TLC and they are back to roadworthiness and ready for someone who does need one. Some charities in Poland, Romania and Africa have over the year distributed some 750 of TLC bikes to people who have very little and often a heartfelt story comes back from the recipient who has been given one of the bikes. Here at home I got the name, ‘The bike man’, so folks would ask me if I had a bike for someone who needed one but couldn’t afford one, or had had theirs stolen!!. There’s a continuance of this ‘gift blitzing’ in that I’ve realised there is a lot of decent ‘gear’ (electrical equipment, furniture etc) out there, so I’ve been able to find new homes and get the ‘gear’ to thankful people who need such items. It all started as a good idea and something I knew I had the God given gift of being able to do, therefore I aught to share it. I could write a book about all the wonderful stories from those folks who thankfully received one of my TLC bikes – Doctors/Nurses/A Mayor of one town and the kids of course, one of whom wrote to me and asked if I could send him some cycle racing gear… the rest is his story of going on the be a racing cyclist. Lovely to hear of such sharing with imagination and of course a love of caring, keep doing what you do best Marlys… a great read, to inspire others thoughts, with their sharing. A man who comes to our churches food bank, has needs, he can’t afford to buy stuff for the flat he’s moved into… so a flat screen TV and a 2 seater leather settee was ‘hanging around’, waiting for that someone… he’s calling for them as soon as he can get his friend to use his van, to transport….. another happy ending, I think. God Bless, Bx P & family.

    • Wow, Peter. What an amazing gift-blitzing story. So many bikes in so many regions of the world. I love all those happy endings. Thank you for sharing, and YES, you should write a book!

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