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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Tradition - A Christmas Story

Here is a beautiful short story that echoes my post yesterday, and how important the holiday traditions are.  It also speaks of the importance of continuing whatever traditions you have begun, in memory of your loved ones.  Yes it is a time of sadness, but it can be turned into to hope, not only for you, but for others as well.

Story posted by Chris Cade | Short Christmas Stories on Dec 21, 2009 in Inspirational Christmas Stories (If known, the original author is listed below) 

— Author Unknown

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 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 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 knowledge 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. Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas Spirit, will always be with us.

– Author Unknown

Our loved one may not be with us, but their spirit definitely lives on in all that we do.  Just as I have kept Rachel's memory alive through small acts of kindness, and just simply continuing to include her in our holiday celebrations, you too will find ways to keep your loved one's memory alive.  Your loved one gave you a very special gift so long ago, a gift that continues to give every day, that gift is Love.  It is a gift that we cannot hide away, we cannot pretend it doesn't exist, how can we, you feel it in your heart, you sense in your life, and it brings a warm smile to your face.  Your loved one what just that, your LOVED one, and love never ends...

Blessings! and until we meet again.