Positive Inspirational Stories
Positive Featured Inspirational Story - November 30 to December 30, 2007
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.
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 the 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 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 of 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.
Written by Nancy W. Gavin
This is a true story and inspired four siblings from Atlanta, GA to start The White Envelope Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting this tradition and charitable giving. The White Envelope Project founders are regularly in touch with the family in the article and are thrilled to have their support. The Gavin family and now thousands of others continue to celebrate the 'white envelope' tradition each year.
- Inspirational Stories
- Finding a Forever Home
- Grandma's Thimble
- When you thought I wasn't looking
- Left Behind
- Enjoy your nectarine
- The Old Phone . . . How do you spell fix?
- You make a difference
- Lessons from Geese
- The Richest Man in the Valley
- The Making of a Memory
- Why The Elephants Dont Run
- The Sandpiper . . . to bring you joy
- They don't walk in your shoes . . . Click, Click, Click!
- The Happiest Day of My Life
- Courage - Despite the Odds
- You just never know
- Learning to Listen
- If it is meant to be, it will be
- The Learning Tree
- The Red Marbles
- The Weeds of Our Lives
- The Distinct Sound of Purring
- Flowers for the Teacher
- The Red Ribbon
- Santa's Love
- All The Good Things
- Yusuf - He's My Brother
- Extra Good Luck
- Hoo Hoo Fraks
- Stand tall like the Sunflower
- Unique Words of Forgiveness
- I Got Back On My Seat
- Brick Wall
- White Envelopes
- Love and Music in Their Hearts
- Birthday Cards with Secret Codes
- Gift Exchange - lessons about life!
- When the message light doesn't blink
- Tenant Farmers
- I know you by heart
- In Clay Vessels
- Letting Go
- When the nest emptied
- When the birdies came
- Broken Eggs and Shattered Glass
- After the applause, make time for words of praise!
- Are you a bucker filler or a dipper
- Choosing Confidence
- The Stone Soup Story
- A Mother's Job
- Hugging Life
- The Perfect Partnership
- Acknowledging a Special Treat
- A Different Perspective
- Life is meant to be lived
- Treasured Traditions
- Rules for a better way to live
- I Just Get Started
- Memories sustain us on Father's Day
- Creating Opportunity
- Forgiving without condoning or forgetting
- Nothing is long or short, hot or cold, good or bad!
- The Power of Discipline
- Sentry of the Homestead
- You deserve an Academy Award!
- All in the Family
- What is your Passion?
- We danced through life
- A choice to make
- Five ingredients of personal growth
- Acres of Diamonds
- If you look like a duck . . .
- The Secret of Happiness
- Harvesting Love
- It's music to your ears
- A Special Brand of Luck
- They are just empty cars
- Thou Art An Eagle
- Encouragement Works
- When you're in the cement mixer
- Plant Annually
- Life and Its Legs
- No Barriers in Life
- Getting Started
- Good Leaders are Good Followers
- How much do you want it to be
- How to improve your vision
- What forgiveness will buy
- Why let that hold you back
- Letting the yeast work its magic
- 9 things that make good employees quit
- The Beginning of Positive Thinking
- Giving Back
- May you be known by your love
- Expand your vision of possibilities
- We are meant for the skies
- Mr Belser died last night
- Are you dead on the job
- What makes us happy
- Motivating Others
- The clock is running so make the most of today
- Calming the muddy waters
- Keeping New Year's Resolutions - the secret additive
- You are unique
- Web of Love
- Is happiness around the corner
- Seeing Life Through New Eyes
- An enriching action
- The Road to Significance and Success
- The real purpose of your life
- With leadership its the little things that matter
- The Obstacle in our Path
- Good deeds no matter how small can change the world for someone
- Accepting responsibility has its rewards
- An Inspiring Thanksgiving
- The Ever-Flowing Spiral of Love
- Clementine - My Very First Dog
- The Little Nail
- His Greatest Treasure
- Their love comes with no strings and has no boundaries
- Three Simple Words that Change Everything
- Thank You
- Moral Courage - The Engine of Integrity
- The Person in a Different Skin
- Believe In Your Ideas
- I'll Never Complain Again