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The white envelope project
#1
The story that inspired the White Envelope Project



This story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman's Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine's "My Most Moving Holiday Tradition" contest in which readers were asked to share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. Woman's Day continues to support this tradition and The White Envelope Project today.


For the Man Who Hated Christmas
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 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 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 to take down the envelope.


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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This story is indeed a true story and inspired four siblings from Atlanta, GA to start The White Envelope Project, a nonprofit 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. Sadly, Nancy Gavin (the author) died less than two years after her husband - also of "the dreaded cancer." Her legacy lives on as the Gavin family and now thousands of others continue to celebrate the "white envelope" tradition each year. For more information about The White Envelope Project or to honor a loved one through a "white envelope" gift this year, please visit their website http://www.WhiteEnvelopeProject.org.

http://www.jandura.com
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#2
My most moving Holiday tradition.... My wonderful Mom passed away 4 years ago Nov 17th. She was the most giving, loving person I have ever met. That first Christmas without Mom was very hard so when I got a call from my oldest brother and he told me about his gift to me I knew that it was the best gift I had ever recieved. My brother told me he had tried to figure out something to give to me, but couldn't come up with the perfect gift. He told me instead of giving me a gift he had sent a donation to St. Judes children fund in honor of Mom. For as long as I could remember my dear Mom would always send them a donation. Even when times were so hard on her financially having to raise us kids after my Dad died she would always send what she could to try to help these children. My brother had truly come up with the perfect gift and in memory of her this is the gift my family members give each other every year. I also took over my Moms tradition of setting an extra plate at the table during the Holidays. My children always questioned why the extra plate and I told them just incase someone drops in and needs to eat they will feel welcome because their setting is already there.
GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY AND OUR PRESIDENT!
 
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#3
backache Wrote:My most moving Holiday tradition.... My wonderful Mom passed away 4 years ago Nov 17th. She was the most giving, loving person I have ever met. That first Christmas without Mom was very hard so when I got a call from my oldest brother and he told me about his gift to me I knew that it was the best gift I had ever recieved. My brother told me he had tried to figure out something to give to me, but couldn't come up with the perfect gift. He told me instead of giving me a gift he had sent a donation to St. Judes children fund in honor of Mom. For as long as I could remember my dear Mom would always send them a donation. Even when times were so hard on her financially having to raise us kids after my Dad died she would always send what she could to try to help these children. My brother had truly come up with the perfect gift and in memory of her this is the gift my family members give each other every year. I also took over my Moms tradition of setting an extra plate at the table during the Holidays. My children always questioned why the extra plate and I told them just incase someone drops in and needs to eat they will feel welcome because their setting is already there.

What a beautiful and heartwarming story....bless you and your family
 
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