Humor & Story BLOG

Humor & Stories To Make Your Day

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A Christmas Story

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

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.

posted by Gary  # 1/14/2004 09:45:00 PM
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