It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription(题词,铭文). It has peeked1 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 frantic2(狂乱的) running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry3 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 decided4 one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth5. 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 ragged6 that shoestrings7 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.
A 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 bravado8, 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