The Holiday Season is here, and shoppers are out in droves. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday have shifted our focus toward the fine art of gift shopping and giving with offers too good to be true.
But why do we give gifts at Christmas? The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas has been around for a very long time. For many Christians, gift-giving reminds them of the Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh presented to the Christ child by the three wise men at his birth.
Gifts are also symbolic ways of expressing love toward one another, and who doesn’t enjoy receiving gifts? But what gift does one give the person with breast cancer? How can one show concern without offending?
Choosing a gift for someone with breast cancer can be difficult. It’s a touchy and very personal subject since some persons with cancer choose to be very private about their health and others are more open. Taking that into consideration, gifts should be chosen with great care.
The first Christmas after my diagnosis with breast cancer, I was overwhelmed. There were so many pink ribbon products, I felt like I could have opened my own breast cancer boutique. Well-meaning friends and family wanted to acknowledge the fact that I was fighting the good fight. I appreciated that fact but felt they didn’t understand how to buy appropriate gifts. They wanted to give a nice gift, but I think they felt they had to choose something breast cancer related to acknowledge my fight.
That first year after diagnosis was definitely not a traditional white Christmas. In fact, it turned out to be a very pink one.
The second Christmas after diagnosis, the gifts were more unique but still came with a bright pink hue. I received some beautiful breast cancer journals, a necklace, a bracelet, and a pen. I also received several books on surviving breast cancer. A few bold family members decided to give great gag gifts. They poked fun at cancer and helped lighten the seriousness of a very serious disease. And while they were quite funny, I would have liked to have received gifts unrelated to cancer.
Some of the gifts that meant the most to me were thoughtful and encouraging gifts like handwritten cards, pieces of artwork, or homemade goodies. Those gifts helped lift my spirits and showed how much the giver cared. A framed photo of myself in the midst of treatment with the word strong emblazoned across it validated my fight. Hand lotion, a weighted blanket, an acupressure mat, a nice coffee mug, and a box of assorted teas were gifts that told me it was okay to pamper myself.
Knowing the perfect gift to give anyone under normal circumstances is challenging, but when choosing a gift for someone affected by cancer, a little help from a survivor may offer valuable insight.
Gift certificates or cards are always appreciated. Be creative, with some investigating before the holidays it’s possible to discover the person’s favorite bookstore, restaurant, or clothing store. Gift certificates for massages are a wonderful choice if the person with cancer can tolerate physical touch.
Handmade gifts are special because of the time and love the giver puts into them. Quilts are special mementos that are both useful and make precious keepsakes.
Kindles, iPods, or iPads are very practical gifts as well. They can provide needed entertainment during treatment and recovery periods.
DVDs, CDs, books, magazines, or other types of media are good choices as well but be sensitive in selections. Tastes vary and yours may not match that of the recipient.
Soft blankets, hats, and scarves are usually good choices. They can provide much-needed comfort and warmth.
Stress-relieving gifts like bath salts, candles, and body washes are good but sensitive noses may not appreciate strong scents, especially for those going through chemotherapy. Some product scents may trigger nausea.
It may be impossible to find the perfect gift for the person with cancer, but part of the gift lies in the effort behind it. Care and concern shine brightly when a gift is wrapped in love.
This Christmas, instead of worrying about choosing the perfect gift, it might be better to offer the gift of presence. A wrapped gift is nice but spending time with someone is one of the very best gifts of all and it isn’t likely to break the bank.