No Text - A Special Christmas Story.

A Special Christmas Story.

A Christmas Story -- The White Envelope

    It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches
of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription.
It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10
years or so.
    It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh,
not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of
it-- overspending ... the frantic running around at the last minute
to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for
Grandma--the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of
anything else.
    Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the
usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth.  I reached for something
special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
    Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the
junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas,
there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city
church, mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged
that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together,
presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold
uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.  As the match began, I was
alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a
kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.  It was a
luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
    Well, we ended up walloping them.  We took every weight
class.  And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered
around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that
couldn't acknowledge defeat.  Mike, seated beside me, shook his head
sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said.  "They have a
lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right
out of them."
    Mike loved kids--all kids--and he knew them, having coached
little league football, baseball and lacrosse.  That's when the idea
for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting
goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes
and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.
    On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the
note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift
from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year
and in succeeding years.
    For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year
sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game,
another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned
to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
    The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas.  It was
always  the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children,
ignoring  their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as
their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents,
but the envelope never lost its allure.
    The story doesn't end there.
    You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer.  When
Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got
the tree up.  But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the
tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.  Each of our
children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree
for  their dad.
    The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further
with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed
anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
    Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with
us.  May we all remember Jesus--who is the reason for the season,
who gave us the greatest example of giving--and strive to follow his
example this year. [source unknown]