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White Envelopes

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.

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 the 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 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 of 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.

Nancy W. Gavin

This story is a true story and inspired four siblings from Atlanta, GA to start The White Envelope Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting this tradition and charitable giving. The White Envelope Project founders are regularly in touch with the family in the article and are thrilled to have their support. The Gavin family and now thousands of others continue to celebrate the "white envelope" tradition each year. For more information about The White Envelope Project or to honor a loved one through a "white envelope" gift this year, please visit their website: www.WhiteEnvelopeProject.org



We all need a BIG Dream


My Big Dream


The most important things in the world to me are…





I am good at…





If I could have any quality I wanted, I would have…





If I could do or have anything I wanted, I would…





I will know I’ve succeeded when…





I will feel this way when I have succeeded…






My Big Dream


The most important things in the world to me are…

My health, my husband and children, my friends, my relationships, inspiring people, and touching their lives, the opportunity to connect and make a difference, developing new ideas, being free to explore what truly matters to me, getting real with others, financial independence


I am good at…

Inspiring people, telling stories, public speaking, making connections, teaching, seeing the bigger picture, seeing the possibilities, financial figures and concepts, having faith that all will be well, growing, developing, taking care of myself, relating to others, really listening, running my businesses, supporting others, leading others, having fun


If I could have any quality I wanted, I would have…

The ability to inspire my clients to empower themselves and create transformation, faster



If I could do or have anything I wanted, I would…

Run the most well known and highly regarded Personal Leadership Coaching Program in the world and with it revolutionize education worldwide. Complete my books “How To Be Your Own Best Leader” and “Loving Others Into Life”. Develop the Activ8 Excellence brand worldwide. Set up a non for profit Personal Leadership Development program for underprivileged teenagers.


I will know I’ve succeeded when…

I see myself speaking to Leaders in Business, Education, Religion, The Arts, Science and Politics around the world. My books will be used in schools and colleges around the world. Activ8 Excellence has offices in major cities right across the world. Graduates of the non for profit Personal Leadership Development program will be mentoring new recipients.


I will feel this way when I have succeeded…


I will feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the abundant blessings I have in my life in the form of the relationships I have developed as well as the lessons I have learnt and I am continuing to learn. I will feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that clients have created transformation for themselves and that through the ripple effect they continue to be their own best leader with all those they are in relationship with.


To get started:


Think of someone you deeply respect. What are three qualities in this person that you admire & describe these qualities. How would you feel if you had these qualities?







If your best friend was feeling self doubt, what would you tell them to support them? What would you want them to believe about themselves? How would you tell them this?







Think of someone you admire. What do you think they believe about themselves?







Think of someone who seems to have already mastered an area of their lives that you value. What do you think they had to tell themselves to get themselves started?







Picture yourself in five years time, when you have mastered this area of your life. Look back to now. What would you tell yourself?





Christmas is our focus and society would have us believe that buying presents and Christmas parties are what should be taking our energy.


People see through this hype and realise that Christmas is about spending time with family and friends whom are important to us and we love. It allows us to stop and take stock of what is really matters in our lives and it is a time for sharing faith and hope in each other.


A wise friend of mine always makes the statement at this time of year that "Jesus is the reason for the season." Yes, the birth of one small child and his life has changed humanity. His life brought true hope and faith that the world can be a better place and it is about making a choice, no a DECISION, right now, to commit to making your own part of the world better by deciding to be your best, by always seeing the postive, by taking action, however small, every single day to love those around you into life.....life to the full.


My wish for you is a very happy and loved filled Christmas and that the hope of the season carries you right through to next Christmas.


Keep shining,


Christine Anderson