It is interesting how Christmas Traditions begin in a family and endure through the years. The one I want to share with you started because of a man who hated the commercial side of Christmas. He was fine with the true meaning of Christmas but had no use for the frantic running around, gifts given in desperation without thought, the over-spending and the parade of parties and self-indulgence that accompanied them. For him, much of the true meaning of Christmas was bypassed with more attention on getting than giving.
Aware of Mike’s feelings, his wife Nancy decided one year to bypass the usual gifts of shirts, ties, sweaters, etc and to come up with something inspirational for Mike. Her only problem was to discover how that inspiration would materialize. Nancy and husband Mike went to their 12 year old son Kevin’s school wrestling match against a non-league inner-city church team shortly before Christmas. Kevin’s team came out on the court with their bright head gear, spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. The inner-city church team appeared with no head gear, drab looking shirts and shorts and sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together. The inner-city church team lost every match. Mike’s only comment was, “I wish just one of them could have won, they have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”
Knowing Mike’s love for sports and for kids and his love for coaching, the inspiration for what to do came on like a light bulb. Nancy went to the sports store and bought a wide assortment of wrestling gear including headgear and sent it anonymously to the inner-city church team. On Christmas Eve, she placed a small, white envelope among the Christmas tree branches. No name, no identification, no inscription. Inside was a note to Mike, telling him what she had done and that was her gift to him. When Mike was told to open the envelope, his smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. For ten years straight a white envelope stuck between the Christmas Tree Branches became a tradition. It was the highlight of every Christmas for Mike and their three children.
When Mike died of cancer, Nancy was surprised at Christmas time when her grief was so great she hardly had the heart to put up a Christmas tree. On Christmas morning she found not just her white envelope but 3 more white envelopes placed there by her children in memory of their Dad. You can be sure that her children and the Grandchildren today highlight their Christmas trees with white envelopes and notes describing their acts of generosity to those who need it most. (Adapted from a true story written by Nancy W. Gavin)
In His Love, Charles