THIS is one of the most moving and emotional emails I have seen this year - and yes, you will definitely need the tissues, just get them now! Merry Christmas and may everyone find an envelope on their tree!
It's just a small white envelope stuck amongthe
branches of ourChristmas tree. No name, no
identification, noinscription. It has peeked through
the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hatedChristmas
--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the
commercialaspects of it -- the overspending, the
frantic running around at the lastminute to get a tie
for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma--
the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't
think of anythingelse.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year tobypass
the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I
reached forsomething special just for Mike. The
inspiration came in an unusual way. Ourson Kevin,
who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior
level at theschool he attended.
Shortly before Christmas, there was anon-league match
against a team sponsored by an inner-citychurch.
These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so raggedthat
shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them
together,presented a sharp contrast to our boys in
their spiffy blue and gold uniformsand sparkling new
wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed
to see that the other team was wrestling without
headgear, a kind oflight 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 themat,
he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado,
a kind ofstreet pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.
Mike, seated besideme, 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,
That's when the idea for his present came.That
afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and
bought anassortment ofwrestling headgearand shoes
and sent them anonymously to theinner-city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on thetree,
the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that
this was hisgift from me. His smile was the brightest
thing about Christmas that year andin succeeding
years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition
--oneyear 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 tothe
ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The
envelope becamethe highlight of our Christmas. It was
always the last thing opened onChristmas morning, and
our children, ignoring their new toys, wouldstand
with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the
envelope fromthe tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toysgave way to more
practical presents, but the envelope never lostits
allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost
Mike last yeardue to cancer. When Christmas rolled
around, I was still so wrapped in griefthat I barely
got the tree up. ButChristmas Evefound me placingan
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 onthe tree for
their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will
expandeven further with our grandchildren standing
around the tree with wide-eyedanticipation
watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
Mike's spirit, like theChristmas spirit, will always
May we all remember Christ, who is the reason forthe
season, and thetrue Christmas spiritthis yearand
God Bless! -- pass this along to those friendsand
loved ones who you know are the givers who understand