Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Envelope of Treasures



The following is a story that was sent to me by my grandmother. It is truly a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. I do not know if this is a true story or not and I do not know who the author is, but I hope you can find Christ in the words.
- Woman on a Mission


_______________________________________________________

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 another 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, 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.

5 comments:

jeleasure said...

W.O.A.M,
I was afraid your blog was going all girl with the color changes.
This is something I can comment on.

"I wish just one of them could have won..

I think this is what causes God to feel encouraged. We are often sympathetic and surprisingly caring.

If I may say, it also reminds me of when I was in High School Wrestling and I was winning unanimously. In the last twenty seconds, I allowed the kid to roll me over on my back as I waited out the twenty seconds in a neck bridge to keep my shoulders off of the mat. He was able to get some points for that and go back to the bench feeling that he may of had potential to be a good wrestler.

I posted a new blog item that I think you will find fascinating. Go to The Bethlehem Star at Journaling For Growth.

friedmsw said...

Thank you!

Heather Nicole said...

yes, I'm tearing up, what a heart warming story. thanks for posting

Nitewrit said...

I'm tearing up to, and I'm a GUY!

You know, this would be a great tradition to start.

Larry E.

ben and erin said...

what a great reminder this CHRISTmas. it reminds me of Matthew 25:34-40. Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me.

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