HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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 — the 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.
Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.
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 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, unbeknown 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 giving spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.
I love this! I hope your Christmas was magical and your new year will be as well!
Great post Tamy 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
What a post!
I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! 🙂
Merry Christmas Tammy!!
That was a great post. Wonderful poem and pictures, too.
Thanks for this moving story and the lovely reminders about the real meaning of Christmas. May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!
Hugs and blessings,
Merry Christmas to you and your family! Beautifulpost today.. Thank you… God Bless you…
Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for letting me pass on this beautiful story from Heather.
Kleenex box indeed!!!
Whoa…this was a wonderful, beautiful story. Thank you for sharing this this time of year, it really opens the eyes and makes one think twice….You’ve done a beautiful thing.
May your Christmas be filled with joy and laughter and you find peace and serenity with your loved ones….now, and forever!!!!
That is a beautiful story. For the past 6 years my Mom’s side of the family switched from buying gifts for each other and instead donate the money to the Cancer Society. This is a touching story! Happy Holidays!
isn’t that a great story to share! Merry Christmas to you too!
What a cool story!
Merry Christmas to you and your family also!
Merry Christmas. 🙂