A Christmas Story - John Behle - Posted by J.P. Vaughan

Posted by Mark(MI) on December 23, 1998 at 11:32:13:

A very touching story…

A Christmas Story - John Behle - Posted by J.P. Vaughan

Posted by J.P. Vaughan on December 23, 1998 at 09:59:40:

John Behle posted this on the Cash Flow Forum last night,
and I am reprinting it here.

A Christmas Story

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, mostly black.

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
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.

May we all remember the Christmas spirit this year and always.

(Author Unknown)

Re: A Christmas Story - John Behle - Posted by Brandi_TX

Posted by Brandi_TX on December 23, 1998 at 23:43:21:

I never thought I would thank anyone for giving me a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Thank You.

  • Brandi

Re: A Christmas Story - John Behle - Posted by Mike M

Posted by Mike M on December 23, 1998 at 15:46:22:

I have a similar story I heard about this year. An entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., pool their Christmas gift giving money together to purchase a house for a third world family. This particular family funded an average size house in Costa Rica for $1,800.
If only I could convince my family of this generous idea.

Re: A Christmas Story - John Behle - Posted by JHyre in Ohio

Posted by JHyre in Ohio on December 23, 1998 at 12:26:08:

I have ususually preferred Thanksgiving over Christmas because many people actually reflect over the true meaning behind Thanksgiveng, whereas Christmas has become an annoying commercial gauntlet. We have a similar Christmas tradition that helps remind everyone of just how much we have. I am touched and gladdened to hear that others feel the same way. Thank you for sharing the story with us. Have a safe and merry Christmas.

John Hyre