I discovered this story years ago. May it bless and inspire you as it has me. Miraculous transformations, like Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch, are possible once we realize it’s so much better to give than receive.
Scrooge: “Bah, humbug!”
Narrator: “Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”
Scrooge: “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”
And then something changed…
Scrooge: ‘’I don’t know what to do! I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
True Christmas Spirit
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 like 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; 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 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…
May we all remember the true Christmas spirit this year, and always.
“Christmas is a way of life that celebrates the presence of God in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life: the smile we give the harried stranger. . .the patience we offer in the crowd of impatient shoppers. . . the love that prompts the secret gift . . . the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift,. . . every special meal, card, phone call, and visit.” – Mary Sutherland
Author Unknown — I found the main story years ago on ‘Daily Wisdom’, contributed by Jenifer Burris, who couldn’t attribute it either.
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