A Christmas Story: The Man Who Hated Christmas

Photo Credit: Pitsk via Flickr

Photo Credit: Pitsk via Flickr

The short, inspirational Christmas story below was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. This moving story inspired the creation of The White Envelope Project, a caring nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of givers, civic leaders, and philanthropists. May this inspirational story remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas and giving during the holidays and throughout the year. The story was written by Nancy W. Gavin.

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 ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and 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 on the wrestling team at the school he attended. 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 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. 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. He so enjoyed coaching 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 a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up 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 white 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 small, white 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 the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.

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

  13 comments for “A Christmas Story: The Man Who Hated Christmas

  1. December 14, 2013 at 3:14 am

    lovely story


  2. December 14, 2013 at 3:15 am

    A very well written story. Thanks for sharing. Peace, Barbara


  3. December 14, 2013 at 4:01 am

    You have inspired many through out this year to include us.. we would like to inform you that you have been nominated for Blog of the year find the post here! http://wp.me/p2ML45-1do


    • December 14, 2013 at 4:46 am

      Thank you SO much for your thoughtfulness and kindness for considering me for this award!! I will post it as soon as I get some time! I haven’t heard from you in a long time. I trust that all has been well with you and your family. In case I don’t “Speak” to you again before then…I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Holiday season!


      • December 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        Yes everyone is doing well, we are working a lot through the holidays but that is to be expected. Hope this finds you and yours deeply in love! Clark


  4. December 14, 2013 at 5:56 am

    I love this story and will share it with my friends…


  5. December 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Love this story Coach. This really is what Christmas (or any day we see a need) is all about. Thanks for sharing it.


  6. prayingforoneday
    December 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Please accept these THREE AWARDS!!!
    One is “Blog of the year” One star award. If you need more starts, go to the link under the award.
    The Sunshine Award
    The Lighthouse Award
    This is an easy Award to give out.
    I hope you can acccept.
    Thank you…



    • December 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Did you get the message that I just sent you regarding hte three awards that you nominated me for?


    • December 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Shaun, unfortunately, I already accepted the “Sunshine Award” and the “Blog of the Year Award” a while ago. I am not going to accept the Lighthouse Award simply because I made it 🙂 I am going to post the award that you nominated me for…The Shauny Award, sometime today. Did you ever find my FB page?


  7. December 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Beautiful story Coach! Thank you


  8. Kay Montanaro
    December 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    This story is the true meaning of Christmas.


  9. December 20, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Beautiful story 🙂


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