I wanted to share something with you about the article Heartlight sent out on Christmas morning — The White Envelope. I don't know if the story is true or not, but I certainly hope that it is. You see, six years ago, my 16 year old daughter and I faced our first Christmas without my husband and her father. He had been killed in a car crash the spring before. We had struggled through all the "firsts" — his birthday, our anniversary, our daughter's becoming drum major and winning awards without him to cheer her on, Halloween (a HUGE fun time for my husband), and Thanksgiving. Christmas loomed large in front of us — a holiday so filled with family tradition that we didn't know where to begin to celebrate without him beside us.

Then, I read for the first time The White Envelope — the story you published yesterday and had previously published 5 years ago. So my daughter and I had decided to keep some traditions the same that year — like the baking of the chocolate chip cookies to leave for Santa and the tree with no presents under it until after she went to bed (Santa, after all, doesn't come until after she goes to sleep). There were also some traditions that we just couldn't bear to continue, like the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas just before bedtime — it had his voice echoing through the hallways too much.

Mike's story seemed like just what our little family — that had once been three and now had been whittled down to two — needed to hear. We were searching for some fresh traditions that might help define our new roles. I approached my daughter with his story and she was enthusiastic over honoring her father in the same way that Mike's family did him.

Those gifts are also the most heart-warming.
Since that time, we have awakened to a tree covered with cards detailing wonderful, anonymous happenings — from a local high school band who mysteriously received funds for sheet music that they couldn't afford to a nursing home that enjoyed a mini-concert of Christmas carols by a 17-year old flutist that they didn't know. The list of wonderful gifts goes on and on, mostly events that came from the heart and not necessarily from the wallet. As the years have passed and the emptiness of the place that my husband and her father left has lessened, those cards continue to be the most thought about and agonized over gifts given each Christmas. Those gifts are also the most heart-warming to give and the most heart-touching to read.

I know that Mike's story, The White Envelope, changed the course of one family's Christmas — a time that could have been grief-filled and sad became a celebration of hope, a time for reaching out to others, and Christmas mornings filled with love. Thank you for sharing the story again. I pray that it will touch other's lives as it did ours.