At first blush, it sounds as though Lisa Henderson is channeling the Grinch. The mother of three has announced both at home and on her blog, Over the Big Moon, that Christmas is “off” this year in the Henderson home.
On Christmas morning, her kids will awake to find no toys under the tree. They won’t find lumps of coal in their stockings either, even though the 36-year-old Utah mom reports that the kids have indeed been naughty in a way.
Though Santa will be skipping their house on Christmas, it will be to deliver their presents to children who need them more. That will be what the Henderson children (who actually sound pretty nice, as does their mom) have instructed him to do.
But let Henderson tell her own story of why she and her husband have canceled Christmas:
John and I feel like we are fighting a very hard uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. Our kids have been acting so ungrateful lately. They expect so much even when their behavior is extremely disrespectful. We gave them good warning, either it was time for their behavior to change or there would be consequences. We patiently worked with them for several months and guess what, very little changed. One day after a particularly bad display of entitlement John said, “we should just cancel Christmas.” And, so that’s what we did.
Instead we will be taking the money we would have spent on presents and put it towards service projects and giving gifts to others this season. We are trying to teach them the pleasure of giving rather than continuing to feed their childhood desire for more.
The first project we did this season was to hold a clothing driving in our neighborhood. We gathered gently used clothing, sorted them, and packaged them up to send to a village in Northern Cebu of the Philippines. The village was hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan last year. Then the kids wrote letters and found hard candy from their Halloween stash that we could ship to the kids in the village. It was awesome! Instead of being sad over giving up their Halloween candy they were excited and kept wanting to give more and more. After we had the boxes all packaged up we mailed them. The kids loved it! It was a lot of money to ship and they understand that they gave up having something, so they could give these clothes to others.
We will be choosing two families for the 12 days of Christmas. Each day we will deliver a different piece of the nativity. On Christmas day we will give them the last piece of the nativity, baby Jesus. That will be 12 nights of fun memories we will be making trying to deliver the pieces without getting caught. We are also looking into an Adopt a Grandparent program. For Christmas dinner we have invited several older widows and couples in our area that don’t have family around to eat with us.
See what I mean? How cool will this Christmas be! Instead of focusing on what they will be getting, we will be keeping the focus on what they can give!
The few presents they get from Grandparents and other families members will be more cherished because the quantity will be less. They can enjoy what they get rather than feel overstimulated with so much. Christmas morning won’t be less special without Santa coming. Instead we can enjoy our Cinnamon rolls, play games as a family, and truly enjoy the few presents they did get. There is a good possibility that Santa will be writing them a letter of how proud of them he is and perhaps put a few pieces of hard candy and an orange in their stockings. We have Santa Stationary that is free for download.
I really think that we as parents need to take a step back and look at our motivation for giving gifts to our kids. Obviously we enjoy giving to our kids. That is not bad! But, have we gone too far? I have had so many people say to me, “This is such a good idea, but I don’t think I could do it.” Which was so true with my husband and I! I think we were more disappointed than our kids when we cancelled Christmas. How often are kids threaten that Santa won’t come if kids are naughty…. yet have you ever heard of anyone that really followed through on that threat? That is where the entitlement comes from. We continue to give our children things even when their behavior doesn’t warrant it, simply because we as parents don’t want to live with the consequences.
That is why we have taken a stand this year. While this may not be the best choice for everyone, it feels right for our family right now. We really want Christmas to be remembered for the right reasons and to keep the focus on the Savior and the feeling of giving. That is the true essence of Christmas. The feeling of kindness and giving are what give Christmas its magic. I am excited that our kids get to focus on that feeling. I am almost certain this will be the best Christmas they ever have!