SSBG

A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

The Christmas Envelope

Posted by ssbg on December 24, 2005

Received from Steve McGowan 0062.jpg

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
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! —
 

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