英语励志故事:一个信封的故事(The Small White Envelope)

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一个小小的白色信封挂在我家的圣诞树上,上面没有任何名字和其它提示信息,它挂在那已有十多年了。

一切都缘于我丈夫迈克对圣诞节的憎恶。他并不憎恶圣诞节的本质意义,只是极为反感圣诞节趋于商业化的文化:人们疯狂无度地消费,在除夕夜的最后时刻,不顾一切地给哈里叔叔抢些彩带,给祖母抢些彩粉,把其他一切都置之度外。

我知道他的这种感受,于是有一年我别出心裁,想准备些特别的东西送给他做圣诞礼物,不要像以前那样总送些衬衫、帽子和领带之类的东西。这种想法的产生是有其根源的。

儿子凯文12岁那年,参加了学校摔跤培训队的集训。圣诞前夜,学校组织了一场非联赛式的摔跤比赛。对手是市里一支由教会赞助的摔跤队,其大部分成员都是黑人。

这些黑人小伙子穿着破旧的运动鞋,似乎只有那条鞋带将鞋固定在脚上。而我们的孩子则与之形成了鲜明的对比,他们审批黄蓝相间的运动服,脚穿崭新的摔跤鞋,格外引人注目。

开始比赛了,我发现对方选手都没有戴专业摔跤头盔,他们只戴了一种极薄的帽子保护着耳朵, 这令我很纳闷。

买头盔对于贫民队来说简直是一种奢侈。最终,我们以绝对的优势取得了胜利,并在每个级别中都取得了冠军,这一切都在意料之中。

迈克坐在我身旁,惋惜地摇着头说:“我多希望他们中有一个能赢。他们有很大的发展潜力,但是这样输掉比赛会使他们丧失信心的。”

迈克喜欢孩子,喜欢所有他认识的孩子,他曾做过许多少儿球类的教练——橄榄球、棒球和曲棍球队他都带过,他很了解孩子们的心理。这也激发了我的灵感。

那天下午,我到了当地一家体育用品商店买了摔跤用的头盔和运动鞋,并匿名送到了市教会。

那个圣诞夜,我把我做的这件事写下来,装在信封里,挂到圣诞树上。并告诉迈克,这是我送他的圣诞礼物。那个圣诞节,他的笑容灿烂成最闪亮的圣诞节饰品,那笑容一直延续多年。

每个圣诞节,我都延续这个传统。有一年我送了一些曲棍球比赛用具给一群智障儿童;还有一年,我送了一张支票给一对老兄弟,他们的房子在圣诞节前一周被大火烧毁了,我还做了好多好多这样的善事。

信封成了我们家圣诞节的一个焦点。圣诞节早晨,孩子们最想做的就是拆开那个信封,甚至忽略了他们的新玩具。他们瞪着大眼睛站那儿,满怀希望地看着父亲把信封从树上取下,然后打开看里面写了什么。

随着孩子们逐渐长大,实用性的礼物开始取代了那些玩具,但信封却从未失去它的“魅力”。我们的故事仍在继续

迈克因患癌症,永远地离我们而去了。而圣诞节依然年复一年地来临,我一直沉浸在失去他的巨大悲痛中,几乎连扶起圣诞树的力气都没有了,但圣诞夜我仍挂一封信在树上。早上,我看到了树上挂了三四封信,每封信都是孩子们各自挂的,他们彼此并不知晓,这些信都是献给他们父亲的圣诞礼物。

这个传统一直在延续,将来有一天也会传给我们的子子孙孙,那时他们也会瞪大眼睛,满怀希望地等着父亲把信封从树上取下。迈克的精神,如圣诞精神般将永远陪伴我们。

 

The 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 Mike hated Christmas. He didn"t hate 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 and 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 14)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 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, three more joined it. 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.