My Holiday Gift

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If you’re like me, you search hard for holiday gifts that have special meaning for your loved ones. Fortunately, this year I came across an inspiring story that has sparked new ideas in a whole new direction. Maybe it will do the same for you. Here’s the story:

It’s just a white envelope stuck in the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no tag. A similar envelope has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas—the frantic running at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry—the gifts given because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing Mike felt this way, one year I decided to bypass the usual swag and look for something special. I finally found inspiration through our son, Kevin. Shortly before Christmas, Kevin’s team was in a wrestling match against an inner-city team. The inner-city youngsters attended in uniforms so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together. They were a sharp contrast to our Eastside boys in their spiffy uniforms. The other team didn’t even have proper headgear.

Kevin’s team beat them. Mike shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them had won a round,” he said. “They have potential, but losing could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football and baseball. That’s when the idea for his gift came to me. 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 team. On Christmas Eve, I placed the first envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was brighter than the Christmas tree that year and in all the succeeding years as I found new ways to help other youngsters on behalf of Mike.

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 for a time, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

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