Thursday, December 27, 2007

Charles Dickens on Christmas time

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." ~ Charles Dickens

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa and his singing reindeer

I've just found a link to Santa and his singing reindeer - very entertaining! Check it out here:

Have a great day!

The White Envelope Story

The story that inspired the White Envelope Project

This story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman's Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine's "My Most Moving Holiday Tradition" contest in which readers were asked to share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. Woman's Day continues to support this tradition and The White Envelope Project today.

For the Man Who Hated Christmas - by Nancy W. Gavin

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 ten 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 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 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 to take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

This story is indeed 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. Sadly, Nancy Gavin (the author) died less than two years after her husband - also of "the dreaded cancer." Her legacy lives on as 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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas quotations

"Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts." ~ Janice Maeditere

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

“Every gift, though it be small, is in reality great if given with affection.” ~ Pindar

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." ~ Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." ~ Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Time Management Tips - Part 4

This is a simple tip, yet I find it can save time (and I will admit it's one of my pet peeves!).

I'm sure I'm not the only one who receives a ton of email and who often looks in a backlog of saved messages for a particular email - a task that would be a lot faster if the sender ensured that the subject line gave a good indication of the content of the email.

So often I receive emails that have been sent as a reply to one of mine a while ago, so the heading is of no relevance to the content whatsoever, or the heading just says 'hi' when the content is important and requires a reply by a certain date. And emails with no subject title are at risk of being deleted as spam.

Finally, when replying to a message - change the subject heading if relevant; this will make it easier to find in your 'saved' folder if you need it at a later date plus it's easier for the reader to deal with.

That's it for email etiquette for today!

Monday Motivation - 3 December

“The secret of happiness is the determination to be happy always, rather than wait for outer circumstances to make one happy." ~ J. Donald Walters