The White Envelope

The White Envelope

It’s only a small, white envelope caught among the many branches of our Christmas tree. No title, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked by way of the branches of our tree for the previous ten years or so.

All of it started as a result of my husband Mike hated Christmas–oh, not the true which means of Christmas, however the industrial points of it–overspending… the frantic working round on the final minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma—the presents given in desperation since you couldn’t consider the rest.

Understanding he felt this fashion, I made a decision one 12 months to bypass the standard shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for one thing particular only for Mike. The inspiration got here in an uncommon method.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that 12 months, was wrestling on the junior stage on the faculty he attended; and shortly earlier than Christmas, there was a non-league match towards a staff sponsored by an inner-city church. These kids, wearing sneakers so ragged that shoestrings gave the impression to be the one factor holding them collectively, introduced a pointy distinction to our boys of their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and glowing new wrestling footwear.

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Because the match started, I used to be alarmed to see that the opposite staff was wrestling with out headgear, a sort of gentle helmet designed to guard a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxurious the ragtag staff clearly couldn’t afford.

Properly, we ended up walloping them. We took each weight class. And as every of their boys acquired up from the mat, he swaggered round in his tatters with false bravado, a sort of road pleasure that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I want simply certainly one of them might have received,” he stated. “They’ve a whole lot of potential, however dropping like this might take the guts proper out of them.”

Mike beloved youngsters – all youngsters – and he knew them, having coached little league soccer, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the concept for his current got here. That afternoon, I went to an area sporting items retailer and purchased an assortment of wrestling headgear and footwear and despatched them anonymously to the inner-city church.

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On Christmas Eve, I positioned the envelope on the tree, the word inside telling Mike what I had accomplished and that this was his present from me. His smile was the brightest factor about Christmas that 12 months and in succeeding years. For every Christmas, I adopted the custom–one 12 months sending a bunch of mentally handicapped kids to a hockey sport, one other 12 months a verify to a pair of aged brothers whose house had burned to the bottom the week earlier than Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope grew to become the spotlight of our Christmas. It was at all times the very last thing opened on Christmas morning and our youngsters, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to disclose its contents.

As the kids grew, the toys gave approach to extra sensible presents, however the envelope by no means misplaced its attract. The story doesn’t finish there.

You see, we misplaced Mike final 12 months attributable to dreaded most cancers. When Christmas rolled round, I used to be nonetheless so wrapped in grief that I barely acquired the tree up. However Christmas Eve discovered me inserting an envelope on the tree, and within the morning, it was joined by three extra.

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Every of our youngsters, unbeknownst to the others, had positioned an envelope on the tree for his or her dad. The custom has grown and sometime will increase even additional with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, just like the Christmas spirit will at all times be with us.


This story was initially revealed within the December 14, 1982 subject of Girl’s Day journal by Nancy W. Gavin. It was the primary place winner out of hundreds of entries within the journal’s “My Most Shifting Vacation Custom” contest during which readers have been requested to share their favourite vacation custom and the story behind it. 

The story impressed a household from Atlanta, Georgia to start out The White Envelope Mission and Giving101, a nonprofit group devoted to educating youth concerning the significance of giving.

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