[Fwd: Honduras Disaster Relief]

Michael Herman mherman at mcs.net
Sat Dec 12 14:49:34 PST 1998

this arrived the other day.  seemed to fit with the previous messages.

A Christmas Story
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our
tree.  No name, no identification, no inscription.  It has peeked
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...
frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry
the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because
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
The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level
the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a
match  against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.
 These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed
be the only thing holding them together,  presented a sharp contrast to
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
 Well, we ended up walloping them.  We took every weight class.  And as
of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters
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
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
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
Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.  His smile was
brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.  For
Christmas, I followed the tradition---one year sending a group of
handicapped youngsters to a
hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose
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
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
envelope never lost its allure.  The story doesn't end there. You see,
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
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
the tree for their dad.  The tradition has grown and someday will expand

even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with
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 Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the
Christmas spirit this year and always.  God bless---pass this along to
friends and loved ones.

Michael Herman
Manager, Mediator, Educator, Writer

Michael Herman Associates
300 West North Avenue #1105
Chicago IL 60610
312-280-7838 voice
312-280-7837 fax
mherman at mcs.net

Visit <http://www.mcs.net/~mherman/> for the Global Chicago
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