Patriot Update

December 14, 2014

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 at-tended; 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 head-gear, 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 de-feat.

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 handi-capped 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 an-ticipation 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.

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

A Little Something about Me

Thank you so much for sharing a little something about yourself on your sites. I was surprised by how much I don't know about you and have enjoyed learning what you enjoy outside of this building. Your families will love gaining insight into who their children spend their days with all year.

Need to Know...

-Chromebooks can be reserved using the Laptop calendar on the collaboration site. Indicate the color of the carrier you are reserving and your name in the time block on the day(s) you would like to reserve. Please do not reserve for more than a month in advance.

- In your newsletters, remind parents to have their students check the lost & found for missing items. The inventory is increasing. I'm sure those coats will come in handy over the break. Items remaining after December 19th will be donated to Community Storehouse.

Winter Break Campus Availability

December 20 & 21 – Saturday/Sunday – Closed

December 22 – 24 – Monday-Wednesday – Open 6:00am – 7:00pm

Christmas Day – Closed

December 26 – 28 – Friday, Saturday, Sunday – Closed

December 29 – 31 – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Open 6:00am – 7:00pm

New Year’s Day – Closed

January 2, 3, 4 – Friday, Saturday, Sunday - Open 6:00am – 7:00pm

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Winter Parties at Bette Perot

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December 19

Visitors joining us for the fun and celebration must present a picture ID when entering the building. Parties are scheduled as follows:

Kinder – 9:40 – 10:40

1st – 1:50 to 2:50

2nd - 1:30 to 2:30

3rd - 1:45 to 2:45

4th – 12:55 to 1:55