Daily Reflection with Fr. Tomas Del Valle-Reyes



Dear Friends: Praying is not easy. Our daily routine calls for our full attention. And the world around us puts little value on prayer; our lives are full of material things but at the same time are getting emptier in God’s value.

For this reason, I will post a daily reflection and as you visit this site may the Holy Spirit within you come to your aid and guide you gently to the God who loves you
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Monday, December 23, 2013

A Small White Envelope

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 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 him. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son, 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 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 earsIt 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.
My husband, 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.”He 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 my husband 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 one.
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 my husband 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-eyes anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
my husband's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

Descubriendo el Siglo 21Padre Tomás Del Valle-Reyes
330 West 38 Street, Suite 503
New York, NY 10018
Tel - 212-244-4778
Office Cell 917-499-9715
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English: www.Discovering21century.com
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