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.
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 Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always. God bless!
As d xmas is at d door 4 us to remember our redeemer ,what we should put in mined as christains is are we living according to d life pattern of christ JESUS. .dat is d question
It was such an inspiring massage. Thanks and its worth trying it out.
This touched me so deeply. To be reminded of a love so unconditional from a Father that teaches us the importance of the love of family, friends and showing His love to others that may not ever see any other way but by what we can do to bless them right where they are. Thank you!
What a wonderful story and thought for the children
Yes Susan, a wonderful story. Wish we had our tree and children this Christmas.
Truly an inspiring and touching message. I learned something very valuable from this. The true meaning of Christmas. Thank you so much for sharing. At 57 years old this us the best present for me from you 🙂
GOD BLESS YOU AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Thank you for sharing with us the ever true presence of Christ in Christmas. I write this with tears rolling down my eyes, as just like Mike my heart also bleeds to hear and see the commerciality that has come of the true spirit of giving at Christmas.
But my heart drew some comfort when my 20 year old daughter asked me if she could give me the gift of a goat this Christmas to provide wholesome milk, cheese and yogurt to growing children and expectant mothers. Families who can sell the dairy products right away and the offspring later, providing the family with a source of income.
Also preparing and celebrating a meal during the holy season with families that are not able to on their own has brought a whole new Christmas joy, peace and fulfillment in our hearts that no gift can ever match up with truly. We thank God for all his graces and mercy and for his ever increasing Faith, Hope and Joy as we continue to share our blessings online. Blessings always:)
I teared up and felt touched in my spirit as I read this article.
This is what Christmas is all about!
Meeting a need and giving another the credit for it!
What a great family tradition. Thank you for the inspiration.
I teared up, so inspiring and also brought to my remembrance what my mother taught me and my siblings about remembering and sharing with others who cannot afford on their own on Christmas even if we could hardly afford to have much of our own. Thank you for sharing.
What an amazing story <3. So inspiring .. I will do this on my Christmas Tree in memory of my loved ones. Thank you for such a wonderful gift to give all that needed to know what the meaning of giving at Christmas is, may god Bless you and your family.
I am going to seek out a person ot group yo give to right now…a specisl enveope will be in our tree this yr!
Thank u. I was feeling very down this year my family all in different states. I was trying to find something up beat this year you just gave that to me. Merry Christmas. And god bless
I am blessed by this envelop because when we stay inside Jesus we are protected as a letter in the envelop.
Giving to the needy is the best gift during Christmas because Christ gave his life for me. I am so blessed.
Inspiring. Thank you !
Today is the anniversary of my spouse passing away,and his funeral was Christmas eve…How beautiful and touching this story was to my heart! Thank you so much for sharing this! God bless you and your family always!