The Man Who Hated Christmas

The story below showed up on my Facebook feed this week and as someone who has a similar sentiment to Mike, I felt rather than share a story for Christmas I would share his. Hard to believe that this was from 1982, especially the part that says: “overspending and the frantic running around” — I guess some things do not change. I cannot remember the last time Chris and I exchanged gifts for Christmas (maybe those first few years of marriage). Now we do something together, or decide to do something for our home, but we are done with trying to find that perfect gift, especially when there is little we need.

If we do celebrate Christmas next year with our little man (and the jury is still out on how we are going to decide to navigate the holiday with our son) there will be a white envelope on the tree. Read on to see what I’m referring to, enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family.

December 14, 1982 Women’s Day

“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.”

For the Man Who Hated Christmas
By Nancy W. Gavin

Cry your eyes out…

I am not much of a crier. I have definitely had my moments these past few weeks which I think hormones have a part to play in the waterworks. Even with the hormones pulsing through this 37 week pregnant body, I think this video would still make me cry profusely.

A friend shared it on Facebook. It is from the German supermarket chain “Edeka.” I have to say they win the holiday-bring-you-to-tears video. It makes me think of my dad, who passed in his sleep, and who I can see maybe not doing what this man did, but wanting to. My dad loved having his family around him, loved everything about Christmas, and while you would not know it from the way he acted — loved deeply.

Did it bring tears to your eyes? Did you call your dad, grandpa, mom, grandma, kids, whoever you thought of when you watched it? Go get yourself a tissue.

He keeps my world going

I recently saw a post on Facebook sharing a husband’s absolute adoration of his wife. They had just had a baby and were basically living in the NICU. His wife was in school and at the times their baby was sleeping she was writing papers for her classes, and he was in awe of what she was able to handle. I myself was in awe of her. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your little baby need to be in the hospital for a long period of time, and basically living there with them while also trying to stay focused in school (or work if that is what you need to do).

Reading this on Facebook and reading a book on gratitude made me think about Chris and how hard it would be to do all this pregnant business without his daily help. There are some days that I come home from work and am extremely tired. I guess that is a given for being 34 weeks pregnant. When we come home from work the first thing I need is help taking my shoes and pants off (by the end of the day I cannot wait to take my clothes off). The second thing I usually need is food. Yesterday for example I was starving, and immediately he helped me get into comfy clothes and then made me toast — my go-to snack these days.

Then there is the most recent shift in my body. I can feel my pelvis shifting, an odd sensation, but what is more alarming is that when I get up literally every hour to pee, my body feels unmovable in bed. I have to wake him up and have him help me sit up, stand, and walk me to the bathroom. Without his assistance, I cannot get out of bed, and there have been numerous occasions recently where when I have stood up I start to collapse because of the pelvic pain. Ah, the wonders of pregnancy.

Now you might be reading this and say yes this is part of pregnancy — and you would be right. I am not complaining. I am acknowledging his patience and sharing my gratitude for an amazing husband who 99% of the time never complains. Yes, lately he says how tired he is because he has gotten up so many times in the middle of the night, and I say: “Save it. This is what I have been doing since last April.” Regardless, he has been my crutch, my shoulder, my lotion-to-belly applier, the one who dresses me, and even the one that lifts me out of the car when I get stuck, and most importantly my cheerleader.

While I will not lie, women are amazing. I do not know a man who could make it through 10 months of pregnancy. Yet, we sometimes forget that there are men that rub our backs, our feet, and tell us what troopers we are. Sure we are doing the heavy lifting, but it sure helps to have someone who keeps the rest of your world going. Thank you, Chris.

We all remember

Last night before crawling into bed after a long day and week I took a few moments to catch up on Facebook. Since my week has been a blur, I forgot that today is September 11th, and maybe it is the emotions and hormones of being pregnant, but I got emotional thinking about 14 years ago today and where I was that morning. There are a few times in your life when you can remember where you were, who you were with, and sometimes vivid details of that day.

I have a bit of an intuitive streak that over time no longer freaks Chris out. Fourteen years ago today, Chris and I worked together, our desks were literally a few feet apart. I remember coming into work that morning in quite a funk. Chris asked me what was wrong and I said: “I do not know why, and I cannot figure it out but something big is going to happen today.” New to my intuitive outbursts, he at the time thought nothing of it. Not 30 minutes later, he saw what happened with the World Trade Center and quickly broke into a large meeting in our big conference room on the floor. The only place that had a television where we could see what was happening live. The rest of the floor proceeded to join us as word got out about the events of the morning. We were literally watching live as the second plane hit.

Now, at the time we lived in Boston and were in a building with 25 floors. We were on the 18th floor with views that looked toward Boston’s Logan Airport, where the planes took off. The building across from us was one of the tallest buildings in Boston at the time. The hijackers originated in Boston and they had stayed in a hotel just down the street from our building. While nothing near the fear and destruction happening in New York, there was quite a scary feeling of is Boston next? What is next?

There may be many of you that are too young to remember what happened that day, and others that have lived through other more traumatic experiences, but for someone my age this was the first time something had happened where I was not too young to understand. It definitely had an impact and, as we all know, still has an impact on the safety we feel in our country. Some Americans may have felt nothing could ever happen to us. We had put our guard down. In other ways it brought Americans together. Regardless, it was a horrible day, and I hope today you take a moment to appreciate the people you love in your life. Each and every day is precious.

Take Up Space

My sister just shared this video on Facebook and I immediately was sucked in. It reminded me of fast poetry and the likes of something I would watch and be interested in – in college, especially during my feminist stage. Regardless it is the message that is so important. “Take Up Space.” Yes, do it. I finally did.

After so many years (and something I have often blogged about) where my dad was so keen on reminding us that children were to be seen and not heard, it took me to my junior and senior years of college to realize I was NOT taking up any space. Being seen and not heard was so ingrained in who I was, that I did not know what it was like to say what I thought. I was on the quieter side. Eventually through my women’s study classes, and learning more about “voice” I realized how much I really had to say.

In order to truly speak up and talk I needed to take up space. A novel idea to someone who for so many years was basically told to be invisible. I know I was/am like so many women that struggle with taking up space. Instead of hiding or being quiet — instead say what you need to say. Say it again. Take up some space.


Thank you for sharing, sis.