Benefit Tournament Gym

35th INVITATIONAL BENEFIT TOURNAMENT — POSTPONED

ISK Benefit Tournament Logo

Due to COVID-19 Concerns, we are postponing this year’s tournament. When we have more information, we will post it here. Please check back, or contact the dojo at 908-852-5855.

Another year has started and preparations are already under way for our 35TH annual benefit tournament, the 26th of April. Each year we work to make the event run smoothly and charge reasonable fees for competitors and spectators, so everyone may attend. American Isshinryu members will receive a $5.00 discount for pre-registering by the cut off date.

As always, we will create extra divisions for adults and children if the number of competitors in a division is large to make the competition fair and enjoyable for everyone.

Many friends have been made and renewed each year. Those of you who have hosted tournaments know the stress created as I hope each judge will work honestly and each student will act in the manner fostered by our karate systems. I hope you and your student will be able to attend to help us raise funds for the American Lung Foundation and the high school sports program. Lung diseases are growing in this country because of the pollution, smoking effects and exercise habits of our population. Because of some more recent media presentations, people are becoming aware of the problem and strides are being made with research technologies. Hopefully, a cure will be found in the not too distant future.

We will continue to be a NO CONTACT tournament for all competitors. THE FIRST LIGHT TOUCH TO THE HELMET, HEAD OR NECK WILL RESULT IN A WARNING, A SECOND TOUCH WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION. Anything beyond a Light Touch will result in disqualification. This includes all students from white belt to black belt. The philosophy that is stressed is that CONTROL should be able to be demonstrated by all competitors. Students must wear protective hands, feet, headgear, mouth guards and groin protection in addition for the men.

ANY QUESTIONS – PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL.

Download the ISK 2020 Tournament Package

ANY QUESTIONS – PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL.
John E. Hughes
9th Degree Black Belt
(908) 852-5855
verticlefist9@gmail.com
www.Isshin-ryu.com

THOUGHT 555

The Terror Barrier By Bob Proctor

The first ten years of my life were spent in Owen Sound, Ontario. It’s a small town a few hours north of Toronto. I can vividly remember spending the summer days with my family at Harrison Park where there was a really great swimming pool. I would watch as the older kids went up the ladder to either jump or dive off the high diving board. They were having a great time. Wanting to be accepted by the older kids, I too went up the ladder … reluctantly, but I climbed it.

I will never forget the terror that gripped my mind and body when I looked down. Unfortunately, all the coaxing in the world wouldn’t have been sufficient to get me to jump off that board! There was no way I could do it. Feeling defeated, I climbed back down the ladder trying desperately to hide my embarrassment.

That was the first time in my life that I can recall coming up against the Terror Barrier. Unfortunately, not only did I lose out on the excitement and thrill that would have been gained by jumping … I also lost a little self-respect.

If you think back, you will probably be able to recall the first time you came face-to-face with the Terror Barrier. Did you step through it to freedom or back into safety, imprisoned by your own fears?

The Terror Barrier is a real entity.  Now, I could waste a lot of breath telling you that the Terror Barrier is a figment as gauzy and hazy as the smoke from an extinguished campfire. But you’ll tell me differently, because fear can feel like a very real entity. What you think in your head is often acted out in your body – when faced with their Terror Barrier, people will actually break out in a cold sweat, find themselves covered in sudden hives, and even feel their hearts palpitate. Your perception is your reality! That’s how soundly your paradigms of “no” and “it can’t be done” are grounded in your Mind. Your comfortable mind will do anything it can think of to back you away from the “danger” of the unknown, just as it had me backing down those diving-board stairs.

In James Allan’s classic, “As A Man Thinketh,” he mentioned that fear can kill a person faster than a speeding bullet. While coming up against your Terror Barrier might not kill you physically, it certainly kills something inside you – like it did that day I stood on the diving board.

How to be a wrecking ball on your own Terror Barrier. Here’s great advice I picked up from a magazine I subscribe to:

1. Bulldoze through it scared. That’s right … just keep marching, no matter how badly your feet want to stay rooted to the ground. Refuse to permit this negative demon to control you, your emotions …your future.

2. Remember – the Terror Barrier rears its ugly head every time we attempt to make a major move in life into an area we have never traveled before. It’s as natural as day and night. Where before you used to let it stop you cold, now you can simply shrug and tell yourself, “Oh, there it is again. Well! This must really mean something great to me!”

3. Then, further remind yourself that it might be an unknown, but the other side of that Terror Barrier will have you that much closer to your goal. I’d encourage you to fall in love with THAT feeling of accomplishment, get wrapped up in it! I often say that if your goal doesn’t scare and excite you at the same time, you’re going after the wrong goal!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” That is excellent advice. By following her advice you will liberate yourself from the crippling emotional state that the Terror Barrier causes.

Do it scared. Begin to visualize yourself successfully being a wrecking ball on that Terror Barrier of yours. Mentally see yourself winning. Remember, perception IS reality!

I still experience the Terror Barrier myself! For the first 26 years of my life, I withdrew from anything that I truly feared. I reasoned that it really didn’t matter … I really didn’t need that or want to do that anyway. Then with the encouragement of a very good friend, I made a decision to step out and face my fears and I have been free ever since. That certainly doesn’t mean I don’t fear things from time to time … I do … I just don’t let the Terror Barrier stop me from doing or having what I really want to do or have.

Here are a couple of lines I picked up years ago, lines I repeat to myself over and over again whenever the Terror Barrier rises up in front of me.

“Fear knocked on the door, faith opened it, and lo – there was no one there.” Quite simply put, face the thing you fear with all the light and consciousness and enthusiasm you feel for that goal of yours – and fear will duck for the shadows.

In my business, I have been very fortunate to travel the globe and work in countries all over the world. I could not even guess at the number of times I have sat with men and women who came face-to-face with their Terror Barrier … wanting to go ahead but not being able to. These were people with unlimited potential … who could have succeeded at anything they seriously wanted to do … but didn’t because they let their fear rule the day. Is that Terror Barrier holding you back? Do what I did … do what many people do around you every day …crash through. The compensation is incredible. Step out and be all that you are capable of being!

THOUGHT 554

Take the risk! © Bob Proctor/LifeSuccess Productions. Replicate only with copyright in place on all pages herein.

My dictionary tells me that to risk is “to expose oneself to the chance of loss.”

Another piece of literature I was once given (author unknown) suggests that:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

You may avoid suffering and sorrow if you don’t risk, but you simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love or live. The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing … does nothing and has nothing. Only a person who risks is free. What causes individuals to shy away from taking a risk, even if it is a low risk and will give them something they really want? Well, certainly high on most people’s list would be fear of loss, failure and perceived humiliation if the loss were to occur.

But why would we automatically think that we would fail at something? Why wouldn’t we first TRY and see, and then if we did initially fail, learn from that experience and move on?

What causes us to have these thoughts of inferiority? Since risk-taking is not a subject taught in school, it would lead me to believe that a person’s fear of taking risks might stem back from before they can even remember. When you were a child taking your very first steps it wasn’t uncommon to hear one of your parents or guardians say, “Be careful, you might fall.” Or, “Don’t do that, you’ll ….” Though some of this is rhetoric and you don’t really think you’ve paid much attention to it, it actually begins a pattern of “playing it safe” deep in our minds. Think of how much better equipped we would be to face life’s challenges and succeed if we had repetitively heard, “Take a chance and don’t worry about falling, because you’re going to fall … probably quite often. Falling is an important part of learning.” Many of the greatest lessons you’ll receive in life are going to come from falling … from your failures.

So you’ve taken a risk and failed. What next? Failing will never MAKE you a failure unless you quit. Unfortunately, very few people heard that when they were small. The vast majority of our population has been mentally programmed to play it safe. In my seminars I have often said that a little baby is a natural born risk taker. The baby never considers the consequences of falling when he or she is learning to walk. Falling is acknowledged as a natural consequence to learning to walk. I guess you could call it a calculated gamble; it’s a prerequisite to mastering a myriad of motor skills required to get you on your feet and moving. It’s a natural progression in movement.

Why then, wouldn’t we stop to consider that any movement into unchartered territory should be viewed with the same consideration? Why is it that we do not see the process of reaching our goals as having steps similar to the ones the baby must take in order to learn to walk? There will be some stumbling and falling in the learning process, but success can only be reached when we are prepared to take those steps – all of them – even the ones where we may fall down. The real win is the confidence and experience we acquire, which translates into new opportunities for growth, enjoyment and expansion in all areas of our life. When I was in school, I participated in track and field. Pole-vaulting was my specialty; it was the one event I seemed to excel at. I clearly remember knocking that bar flying more often than I cleared it. I also remember I was not very enthusiastic when that happened. Knocking the bar off left me with a feeling that because I had failed, I was a failure. I had failed and as I remember, no one advised me of anything different. In retrospect, it would have been an excellent opportunity for one of my teachers to help me understand one of life’s greatest lessons. But, it never occurred there on the field and it would be many years before I learned the truth – the hard way.

The four-letter word you should ban from your vocabulary While we’re still on the topic of children, I’ll throw up another caution flag. There’s a four-letter word that most parents use around their children so frequently, that the children pick it up and, before too long, it is buried in the treasury of their sub-conscious mind. That four letter word is CAN’T. This word has done more damage than a lot of other frowned-upon four letter words put together. I know of some forward-thinking parents who have literally banned that word from their children’s vocabulary! Can’t is a word that paralyzes any constructive progress. It switches your mind into a negative frequency. It is a four-letter word that will open your mind to a never ending flow of logical, practical reasons that will enable you to justify why you are not able to do something you sincerely want to accomplish. The only alternative to that four-letter word is its polar opposite – I CAN. “I can” is far more important than IQ. You don’t necessarily have to be very smart to win … but you must be willing!

When it comes to risk, reaching the goal is not success … Success is moving toward the goal. When I was knocking down the cross bar in my pole-vaulting days, I was attempting to reach the goal. I was stretching, giving it everything I had. That could hardly be considered failing. Every time I tried to clear the bar, I was risking being ridiculed by the other kids. I risked having them laugh at me when I missed … and they did laugh. However, every time I ran down the field and lowered the pole into the box, attempting to vault myself over the bar, I was challenging myself. Taking risks is absolutely essential when you want to reach a goal.

Remember, the key purpose of goals is growth! When you challenge yourself, you bring more of yourself to the surface. If you knock the bar flying today, at least you will know you are challenging yourself; you’re a success!

Make a decision right now to change your attitude abut risk. If you dream of living your life in a really big way, you must accept risk-taking as a very real part of the apprenticeship you must serve. Decide this very moment there will be no more playing it safe … no more “saving it for a rainy day” type thinking in your life. When people get caught up in the habit of saving for a rainy day, that is generally what they get … a rainy day. I clearly remember the first time I heard Earl Nightingale, often considered “the father of motivation,” speak. Earl was telling a story about a farmer who, while out walking in a field, looked down and saw a tiny pumpkin growing on a vine. Nearby, he spotted a small glass jar. The farmer reached down and placed the tiny pumpkin inside the small. jar. The pumpkin continued to grow until it filled the inside of the jar, beyond which it could not grow. There are a number of people like that tiny pumpkin. They stuff themselves into a predetermined “space” of life. They limit themselves and refuse to take a risk. They never truly test the strength of their abilities. Remember, you will never get to second base if you keep one foot on first. Too many people go through their entire lives playing their cards close to their chest. They never step out and bet on the surest thing in the world … themselves.

The risk is only at the beginning! If you hope to accumulate great wealth or achieve high goals, history records that the first few steps have a high degree of risk. You must turn your back on safety and security. To make it big, you must take big risks. You will very likely have to put yourself in a highly vulnerable position. It is also worth remembering that you cannot ALMOST take a risk. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” Follow her advice. Liberate yourself from the crippling emotional state of fear and enter into a world of freedom – a world that allows for risk along the path of achieving great things!

THOUGHT 553

Confidence

For many people, if the word confidence is given any thought, it is looked upon as a personality trait that you either have or do not have … something you are born with or without. In reality, confidence is a mental state you can develop, if you are prepared to pay the price.

It is also important for you to understand that the price is small, relative to the return. Having confidence will free you to go where your heart leads you, to do what you must do. Confidence gives you strength with style. It generates a non-physical aura that captures the conscious attention of everyone in your presence. It is that something which others admire. Confidence sets up a vibration that causes others to trust in your ability, it instills in them a feeling of safety when following your lead. When you are confident, you know … and you know that you know.

You possess an awareness of a powerful truth: you are one with the infinite. You know that when you are in tune with the unseen power that is in every molecule of your being, you will always solve whatever problem you may be facing, because this power is far greater than any condition or circumstance with which you could be confronted. I could go on and on relating one wonderful truth after another when it comes to confidence. However, if you doubt yourself, if you doubt your ability, if you feel you are not able to do the job or solve your problems, what I have said will not matter.

I would not be answering your most pressing questions: How do I develop confidence and tune into this power? Permit me to suggest that you already have confidence. You might not have it when you want it or possibly in the area you need it, but you’ve got it. Confidence is knowing; it is an inner certainty and absolutely nothing can change it. It wouldn’t matter what happened, what anyone said or did, when you have confidence, what you know (that inner voice) cannot be changed, regardless of the challenge. After the Wright Brothers made the first manned flight, do you think that another person saying, “You can’t fly” would change what they knew? Their reply would have been, “I know I can. I just did.” They were confident because they knew.

Ultimately, confidence is knowledge. If you were going to parachute out of a plane, you would most certainly want to have a lot of confidence in the parachute. The more you knew about the parachute (ie. its construction, material, how it was packed, etc.), the more your confidence would either increase or decrease. Your confidence in the parachute is largely determined by your knowledge of the parachute. The dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers, or of reliance on one’s circumstances.” Contrary to popular belief, your confidence has very little, if anything, to do with your intellect. It has, however, everything to do with your faith. This explains why an individual who may be intellectually inferior, steps out and confidently pursue their dreams, while their counterpart with the advanced academic credentials fearfully holds on to a position they detest, while their dream dies in their mind. The more knowledge and understanding you have about yourself, the greater will be your confidence. Pure, raw self-confidence is what permits you to move ahead in life. Self-confidence gives you license to have a positive attitude about your ability to become competent in an area you may presently know little about. I once heard it said that the “room for self improvement” was the largest room in the world. Regardless of where you are on your personal confidence gauge, these three points will be of value to you.

One: Check your self-image. This is a critical part of your mental machinery when it comes to keeping your confidence humming. When you think of anything, you think in pictures. What kind of a picture comes to your mind when you think of yourself? Confidence is an inside job. To have or not have confidence has nothing to do with what is happening outside of you. Confidence is determined by what is going on inside of you. You are a creative distributor of a life-giving force. Think about that … dwell on it. Remember, what you put out always comes back. When you build the picture of your dream, see yourself as a service-oriented, happy, healthy, prosperous individual.

Understand it was your creative ability that enabled you to build the picture. Your dream is spirit in an organized form … an organized non-physical form. You built the picture, it is in your marvelous mind-body. Mind and body cannot be separated, therefore it must move into physical form with and through you. As long as you hold the image of your dream, the image will affect your movements. It will also dictate what is attracted into your life. Realize that you can connect with the Ever Present … All Knowing … All Powerful lifegiving force I refer to as Spirit and you can connect at will. Train yourself to see your SELF as having such awesome powers. See the willingness of Spirit working with you, to and through you. The more you permit these ideas to move into the feeling side of your personality, the more confidence you will have. Your level of confidence is going to be in direct ratio to your awareness of your oneness with Spirit … the Ever Present … All Knowing … All Powerful life-giving force.

The second step is to check your strengths and weaknesses. You might take a pad and pen and begin making a couple of lists. If you are honest with yourself, you will find the weaknesses far outweigh the strengths. Now, what I’m going to suggest may come as a surprise to you. I’m going to suggest that you forget about developing your weaknesses. Instead, I’m going to suggest that you manage them and put your energy into developing your strengths. In other words, direct your efforts and attention to getting better at what you already do well. Keep getting better at it until you have mastered it.

It makes sense to do what you enjoy and what you do well. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, the more you will enjoy it. You will naturally exude confidence. You will be able to say with conviction: I’m good, I know I’m good and I know why I’m good. That’s confidence. If you didn’t know why you were good, it would be conceit as opposed to confidence.

The third step is to train your mind to see in all people, what they do not see in themselves. Begin to treat every person you come in contact with as the most important person in the world. Look at them with a new awareness. See every person as an expression of SPIRIT, which is always perfect. Refuse to permit another person to influence how you see and treat them. Their speech, actions and results may clearly indicate they do not like themselves. Love them anyway. Look for what they do well and let them know you noticed it. Give everyone a sincere merited compliment. Their good work is Spirit shining through them. Look for it.

Remember, the age-old advice, “Seek and you will find.” The really beautiful part of this third step is this…the good you find in others is a reflection of the good that is in yourself. You might be wondering how this is going to increase your confidence? Know that real confidence turns dreams into reality, physical reality. That is the kind of confidence you need to strive for.

2004, ©LifeSuccess Productions, www.bobproctor.com

THOUGHT 552

Sowing And Reaping

“There is no such thing as luck. Nothing ever happens by chance. Everything, good or bad, that comes into your life is there as the result of unvarying, inescapable Law. And the only operator of that law is none other than yourself. No one else has ever done you any harm of any kind, or ever could do so, however much it may seem that he did. Consciously or unconsciously you have yourself at some time or other produced every condition, desirable or undesirable, that you find in either your bodily health or your circumstances today. You, and you alone, ordered those goods: and now they are being delivered. And as long as you go on thinking wrongly about yourself and about life, the same sort of difficulties will continue to harass you.

For every seed must inevitably bring forth after its own kind, and thought is the seed of destiny. Yet there is a simple way out of trouble. Learn how to think rightly instead of wrongly, and conditions at once begin to improve until, sooner or later, all ill-health, poverty, and inharmony must disappear. Such is the Law. Life need not be a battle; it can, and should be a glorious mystical adventure, but living is a science. EMMET FOX

THOUGHT 550

“You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people to get what they want!” — Zig Ziglar

THOUGHT 549

 

Struggles

When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and

mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits.

Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found

himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side

of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and

the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch.

As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in

his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home

in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the

mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would

delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws.

The man watched. His wife’s interest lasted only a moment, but he studied

the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He

watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity.

Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and

there was no sign of wings.

Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would

die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen

knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side

of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched

the other. The butterfly was free!

It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar

and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn’t fly. At first the man

thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the

butterfly did not take off.

The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school

science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in

the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to

get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the

cocoon, the teacher stopped him. “Oh, that is the reason. You see, the

struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly.”

And so it is with us. Sometimes it’s the struggles in life that strengthen

us the most.

Author Unknown

THOUGHT 548

Choose How you start your day tomorrow

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would replay “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator.   If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style made really made me curious so one day I went up to Michael and asked him. “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Michael replied, :”Each morning I wake up and say to myself – You have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. Each time something bad happens I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. Your bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”

I reflected on what Michael said. Soon thereafter I left the tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with steel rods in his back.

I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he relied “If I were any better, I’d be twins! Wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what went through his mind as the accident took place.   “The first thing was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered I had two choices.   I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared?   Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Michael continued, “….the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes I read “he’s a dead man”. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

”Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.

“Yes,” I replied.   The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. “Gravity.”

Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude is, after all, everything. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

THOUGHT 547

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone.”  Sen. John McCain

WHITE ENVELOPE

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. 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 the 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 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 of 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 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.

Author Unknown