Monday, December 21st

As we move toward Christmas, I want to share with you some of the stories that come my way via email. No doubt many of you have already seen them – some of you were the ones who sent them to me! And no doubt many of you will find them sappy and sentimental. They are – but if they work for me (and they do) they will work for anybody.

The Envelope

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 buy 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 up 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.

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17 Responses to “Monday, December 21st”

  1. Sam Thomas Says:

    WE should all Do this. What a better place this would be.

  2. Georgene Says:

    My Daily Devotions arrive late at night, so I start my day reading the devotion. I am crying today, but they are tears that remind me of the good in life.

  3. Melanie Says:

    Brings tears to the eyes. Thank you for sharing this story.

  4. Connie Says:

    Looks like you have given me my devotional material for chapel tomorrow. My grandfather always put Wrigley’s chewing gum in the Christmas tree for all the grandkids. The envelope brought back fond Christmas memories of a time when chewing gum was a special treat! A strong, quiet man’s way of bringing a smile to our faces…..Traditions…..they keep memories alive!

  5. sherry Says:

    what a wonderful story to share at Christmas

  6. Dawne Says:

    Sappy and sentimental and made me cry my eyes out. Thank you so much!

  7. Tonya Brandenburg Says:

    Thank you so much for the beautiful story Scottie. Amen for the Christ in Christmas.

  8. Laura Says:

    This story never grows old. Still brings a tear to my eyes! Thank you for sharing the story….

  9. Danna Says:

    We lost our son 2 1/2 years ago. Each year our 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters and his friends write a letter of a memory they have about him. We also choose an angel from an angel tree to buy a gift in our son’s memory.

  10. Mary A Says:

    What a GREAT idea. I’m going to try doing this.

  11. Gloria Rockhold Says:

    Truly a story of why we are here on this earth. This woman was living out Christ’s command to do unto others.

    God bless you and your ministry.

  12. Wendy Says:

    In some form or another this story has come to me for the past several years – an annual reminder of the way that I should be sharing Christ’s love with others. Thank you for being the one to send it this year. And thank you for your email ministry.

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