Where There’s a Will There’s a Way: A Facetious List of 12 Ideas that Will Help You Leave Your Mark

An annual holiday letter from a dear friend Dennis L, written in a distinctive tongue-in-cheek voice rather than one of those more traditional over-the-top essays, prompted this post holiday season blog. 

Dennis entertains. He’s Promethean in his holiday letter writing each year, giving it a facetious, human and refreshing twist. This year was no different and the humor added a much-needed detour after a sad turn in his life. He lost his wife and had to think about the real will she left behind. So, to add the humor he is known for among family and friends, he made this year’s theme about what he would put in a make-believe last will and testament. Among those he would disinherit? Anybody and everybody who hit “reply all” on emails this past year. We agree whole heartedly. 

In the spirit of holiday levity, we decided to follow Dennis’ template and add a few more ways the two of us have decided to exclude or include others in our final will and testament. We want to make it crystal clear how we’re parceling out our assets and possessions when we’re gone. 

Who’s In

  1. Anybody who leaves more than $100 to a worthy cause anonymously gets the same amount back from us. This is a paradox because they must let us know without making it known to all. We’re setting up a special email address (like a P.O. box). Of course, worthy causes are a bit subjective. Pet charities are in, as are ones for needy kids or hungry families. Spoiled rotten adults who don’t give to charity and didn’t get to take their trip to an exotic island or the French Riviera this past year and complained endlessly about it didn’t make the cut.
  2. Anybody who volunteers at least 10 hours of their time to another worthy cause also is in and will receive one of the many books we’ve written through the years or ones we own, and that includes many of Margaret’s first editions. In the spirit of transparency, there is an ulterior motive. It’s one way to declutter.
  3. Rescue a pet of any species?We really admire anyone who adopts a python or one of those boring hermit crabs. We’re leaving you $100 for food or toys for Rover. There’s a catch. It cannot be a designer animal—none of those goldendoodles or puggles. PLEASE, when there are so many animals at shelters waiting to be adopted. In fact, if you try, you’ll get coal from us instead from Joe Manchin’s family’s stash.
  4. If you wore no designer label this past year—no Chanel sunglasses or ballet slippers, didn’t carry a Louis Vuitton or Coach purse or suitcase, and avoided all those Tory Burch or Diane Von Furstenberg dresses with busy prints, congrats. And no stilettos—Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks. We’re giving you $500 to buy something you’d never purchase otherwise. You may actually love it! Caveat: You will be responsible for the rest of the cost.
  5. If you avoided painting any room gray, which is now so passé and was overused, you win a gift certificate from any of the major paint manufacturers for 10 gallons of paint in one of the perennially popular whites. Yes, white is still the most popular kitchen color, according to the pundits at the online design site, Houzz.com. And don’t try and sneak into a store and ask for the newly popular blues and greens, which are so nature nurturing and calming, and the returning taupes. If you also resisted building in a bookcase so it could be visible in Zoom calls like all the TV pundits, you win brushes to paint your room white.
  6. If you were a mensch—admitted to your sister-in-law that she does indeed make the best lemon bars, in a 24-hour time period didn’t curse, say pivot or COVID-19 once, wasn’t late more than twice for a Zoom meeting, refrained from complaining that your grandkids chew with their mouths open or learned to be silent when asked your opinion about whether you think Betty, who’s been on a serious diet for six months, looks thinner, and didn’t interrupt your spouse, partner or best friend. Kudos to you and get in line to receive your $150. You get more than some other recipients for good etiquette. 

Who’s Out

  1. If you had lunch or dinner with us at a restaurant this past year and asked the wait staff more than three questions about a particular dish—if it contained butter or cream, if it were fried, if it could be made without cilantro or kale or any number of ingredients, you’re cut out of the will. Gag us. Wait staff is hard to find; they deserve kindness in buckets.
  2. Those who failed to be honest about something major this year– more than two Pinocchios--and we HEARD YOUR little or big white lie—your weight on your driving license or your online dating profile, you said you were eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine when it wasn’t yet your turn or you told a little kid under five that Santa or the Tooth Fairy was real. You lose. It’s never okay to hide the truth under any circumstances. Kids need to grow up fast today.
  3. Those who said they made a certain dish when we later found out the cake was from a box or bakery or the meatloaf was from a restaurant won’t get anything monetary from us but will receive one of our very tattered, dog-eared cookbooks, maybe, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking or the original Silver Palette.
  4. Those who never made their bed first thing in the morning and for several days in a row and never unpacked their suitcase after a trip and before they were headed out on the next one and didn’t wash all the dishes in the sink before they went to bed will be left out of our funds and possessions. But they will get a free online, 10-hour class in housekeeping. It will be done on YouTube with Margaret showing how to use a toothbrush to clean the grout in a shower as well as how to vacuum properly without hurting the carpeting or wood flooring. And it comes with a monogrammed kerchief for your hair, premium rubber gloves and an apron to don while completing the tutorial. Here’s to your cleanliness. Your mom will be so proud.
  5. Anybody who didn’t floss twice a day this past year or use an electric toothbrush or water pik—and we can check those CVS or Walgreens receipts for purchases of mint or no-mint floss or tape and Oral-B or Phillips Sonicare brushes and piks, won’t receive anything from either of us in our wills but will probably get a huge bill from their dentist if they decide to go.
  6. Anyone who was narcissistic and rude. They butt into a line, burned a bra, refused to wear a mask in public and incited any civil disobedience, pushed someone out of the way on the street because they were in a hurry and didn’t bother to apologize or restrained from eating themselves to death during the holidays. You know who you are. Nothing will be coming your way in our wills for when there’s a will, there’s always a way.


  • Lynn Marks

    Yeah, I bought an electric toothbrush and water pic in 2021. But am I “out” because I don’t use them yet?

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