Weekend Wonderings

It’s Christmas Eve, darling readers. Each of us has made it through 2011;  memories made and occasions celebrated, marriage vows declared, battles fought. Some of us are weary and tired from those fights, wearing our scars proudly. But we all, hopefully, have something to celebrate. Someone who loves us, someone to love.

We three have been immeasurably lucky this year. Lucky to have each other, lucky to have this blog and lucky to have a readership like you. You have made 2011 a truly wonderful year for us and we want to thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We have big plans for 2012 and would be honoured if you’ll stick around to help us grow.  

To bring this amazing year to a close, we bought you gifts. We bought a man and his dog two nights in a hostel, away from the bitter cold of the streets. We bought a group of elderly people, who would otherwise be eating alone, a group Christmas dinner. We bought food and toys for the children in families living below the poverty line. We did all of this by donating to the Salvation Army, because Christmas really should be about giving. No strings, just giving.  

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and we hope that christmas love (actually) is all around 

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 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. God bless.

Categories: Uncategorized
4 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted December 24, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I love my gift, thank you so much. Your Christmas story has me in tears (good tears), an excellent reminder to think of others and what giving should really be about.

    Merry Christmas and happy New year to all of you. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings this way.

  2. Posted December 24, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Fin and I are both crying now. THANKS A LOT.


  3. Mahj
    Posted December 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    This is just beautiful.


  4. Posted December 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the Christmas gift you three. Loads of love xxxxxx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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