One mom explains: Why I canceled Christmas for my family

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By Lisa Henderson

A longer version of this essay first appeared on Over the Big Moon. Click here to read the full post.

It’s true. We have canceled Christmas in our house this year.

Let me explain. We have not stopped decorating, celebrating the birth of our Savior, or any of our other heartwarming traditions. But we have canceled presents, Santa, and stockings. My three sons’ letters to Santa this year will ask Santa to find someone who needs their presents more.

Yes, it's true: Christmas is cancelled. After trying everything to teach their three boys better behavior, Lisa Henderson and her husband decided there will be no Santa for them this year. For real.Today

My husband, John, and I feel like we are fighting an uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. They expect so much even when their behavior is disrespectful. We gave them good warning: They needed to change their behavior 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, we did.

We will be taking the money we would have spent on presents and put it toward service projects and gifts for others. We are trying to teach them the pleasure of giving rather than continuing to feed their childhood desire for more.

The few presents they get from grandparents and other family members will be more cherished. Christmas morning won’t be less special without Santa. Instead we can enjoy our Cinnamon rolls, play games as a family, and truly appreciate the few presents they do get.

Santa may write them letters saying how proud of them he is, and perhaps put a few pieces of hard candy and an orange in their stockings.

Instead of buying them presents, Lisa and her husband are teaching their children that Christmas is about giving. Here, her oldest boxes up clothes and food they collected for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.Today

Everyone should know that my kids are in no way hurting for things. It’s not like I took Christmas away from Tiny Tim. They have good clothes, shoes and so many toys they can’t keep their playroom clean. They have reacted to the no-Santa news by making gifts for each other. They are learning exactly what we wanted them to learn, not moping around feeling sorry for themselves.

I really think that we as parents need look at our motivation for giving gifts to our kids. How often are kids threatened that Santa won’t come if they are naughty … yet have you ever heard of anyone that really followed through on that threat? I want to empower parents to feel like it’s OK to take a stand, without worrying that our kids will feel like they have mean parents.

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. 

Lisa Henderson lives in southern Utah with her husband and three children, and blogs at Over the Big Moon. You can follow her on Google+Instagram and Pinterest.