Posted by Soapymac on December 23, 1998 at 20:15:38:
A Great Christmas Story - Posted by John Behle
Posted by John Behle on December 22, 1998 at 11:58:27:
A Christmas Story
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’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. Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
May we all remember the Christmas spirit this year and allways.
Re: A Great Christmas Story - Posted by J.P. Vaughan
Posted by J.P. Vaughan on December 23, 1998 at 09:48:23:
My Dear John Behle,
Thank you so very much for adding such great dimension
to this site. Your vast knowledge and experience is
surpassed only by your deep humanity and wisdom.
Thank you for being who you are, John, and thank you
for sharing that with all of us.
Re: A Great Christmas Story - Posted by Cesar
Posted by Cesar on December 22, 1998 at 22:17:07:
You know, I was about to complain (since I can’t put the bit** word) and moan because the deals I was working on are not going to close until AFTER X-Mas, thus putting a damper ON my X-Mas, until I read this story.
My father currently has cancer, and it has progressively gotten worse this year. I am going to make this suggestion to him this year, and give him something he can carry forever…a tradition of hope.
Thank you very much, it has made my attendance on this website that much more enjoyable.
Re: Thanks John… - Posted by Steve (GA)
Posted by Steve (GA) on December 22, 1998 at 19:48:11:
…for a great story. Two years ago during this time of the year I lost my father and last year during this time I lost my mother-in-law, both to cancer. They were two of the most giving people you would ever want to meet. Your story brought back warm memories and reminded me I must not forget the real meaning of this season; Peace, love, and joy. Not sorrow and pain.
And while I am thinking about it, Thank You John for giving so freely of your knowledge all year long. It benefits all of us trying to learn this business.
Re: A Great Christmas Story - Posted by Rob FL
Posted by Rob FL on December 22, 1998 at 19:08:18:
Re: A Great Christmas Story - Posted by David Alexander
Posted by David Alexander on December 22, 1998 at 13:08:36:
That puts things in perspective,