The Envelope


1 Aa envelope


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.

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Christ treeOn 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 it’s 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 each other, and the Real reason for the season, and His true spirit this year and always. God bless—pass this along to your friends and loved ones.

— Copyright © 1982 Nancy W. Gavin
— Submitted by Edwin G. Whiting

About The Story 

The story first appeared in Woman’s Day magazine in 1982. My mom had sent the story in as a contest entry in which she subsequently won first place. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer two years after the story was published. Our family still keeps the tradition started by her and my father and we have passed it on to our children. Feel free to use the story. It gives me and my sisters great joy to know that it lives on and has hopefully inspired others to reach out in a way that truly honors the spirit of Christmas. — Kevin Gavin

Acknowledgements and More

I first read this story on I knew right away I wanted to share it with my wonderful readers for Christmas, so I sent an email to Marlene Blaszczyk, Editor & Publisher of Motivating Moments and asked for permission it use on More Thyme.

She has a wonderful site and is well worth checking out at the link above. There is a lot of good there.

Anyway, a few days later the phone rang and……..SURPRISE!!!….. it was Marlene. She called to get to know me a bit. You see we are neighbors. She lives in Michigan. She lives in a small town I used to travel through a lot when I worked for Harcourt School Publishers. It is a small world.

And permission to use ‘The Envelope” on More Thyme was granted.

Not only did Marlene and I talk about the story I just shared with you we also talked about how to raise children, how to teach children, and so much more. We solved so many world problems.

It was like we had been friends for ages. Long story short, Marlene and I are going to meet in person as soon as more spring like weather comes to the MidWest.

I love the internet. The internet is so wonderful. My first Christmas present this year is the blessing of another good friend.


Wishing You a Merry and a Blessed Christmas


Featured Recipe        Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers


This Is the Perfect Meal For Too Busy Getting Ready For Christmas Days

A Twitter friend sent me a recipe – Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies – a few days ago. It looked and sounded delicious. Then I started to look around the web site the recipe was from and I found an even better recipe.

The website is CenterCutCook . You should really check them out.

The recipe I found on this site is Quick and Easy Perfect for these last few busy, hectic, and not enough time in a day kinda days before Christmas. This is a pretty dish, a delicious, and a very health high protein-low carb meal.

If you used red and green peppers the recipe would even look like Christmas.

While I only made one for me, I share the recipe for four. The process is the same.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 large red bell peppers

¾ pound sliced roast deli beef

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces sliced mushrooms

½ medium yellow onion

8 slices provolone cheese

Spray Oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Here is what you do:

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Wash the peppers, remove all membranes and seeds then slice in half, slice the onions, and prep and slice the mushrooms.


Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the inside of the peppers with salt and pepper to taste.


Cut or tear the roast beef into smaller pieces.


Add the oil to a hot skillet and add the onions and mushrooms. Sauté until tender about 5-10 minutes.


When veggies are cooked season the cooked veggies with some salt and pepper.


Add the beef and stir just to combine with the veggies.


Divide the meat mixture among the peppers.


Top each pepper with a slice of the provolone.


Cover the peppers with some foil that has been sprayed with some spray oil to keep it from sticking to the cheese.


Place covered peppers in the oven. The original recipe calls for cooking for 15 minutes…. I only did 10 because I like my peppers crisp-cooked as opposed to over cooked and limpy.

IMG_8039Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until peppers are the desired doneness, or until the cheese is nice and bubbly and melted.


IMG_8050Serve and enjoy.


Bon appétit!!!


4 large red bell peppers                   $6.36

¾ pound sliced  roast beef               $6.50

1 tablespoon olive oil                        $0.13

6 ounces sliced mushrooms              $0.45

½ medium yellow onion                   $0.21

8 slices provolone cheese                  $7.92

Spray Oil                                         $0.02

Salt and pepper to taste

Total Cost = $21.59
Cost per person = $5.40

Quote of the Day

Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.

Eric Sevareid


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