The Year We Cancelled Christmas

by Sue Badeau

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)

“You have HOW MANY children?”  Upon hearing that the answer is 22; 2 by birth, and 20 adopted, the next statement many people make is “Christmas must be amazing in your house!”

Truly, Christmas IS amazing in our house.  Our traditions include doing something special on each day of advent to allow the anticipation to build, as the light and joy of the season grow day by day. The whole month of December became a magnificent, chaotic cacophony of joyful noise and bustling energy. 

December in our house never included a moment of rest.

One year, things had been particularly stressful for months.  Bad news, seemingly insurmountable challenges, illnesses, and even deaths were piling up along with the endless stack of bills to be paid.  My husband and I reached our breaking point.  “That’s it!”  We declared that we were “cancelling Christmas.”  We held a family meeting and told the children that this year, there would be no Christmas.  No activities, no cookies and eggnog, no lights, no tree, no stockings hung from the bannister, and no gifts.

Three of our children – ages 11, 12 and 14 – had a different idea.  They had a small after school job helping to deliver firewood.  Secretly they decided to pool their money and buy gifts for the entire family.  Stealthily they accomplished their mission with no one, not even mom and dad, catching on.  Excitedly, they waited until after everyone had gone to bed on Christmas Eve and then tip-toed into the living room and filled every stocking and added a pile of wrapped gifts around the fireplace. 

The astonished faces and tears of joy that graced our home that Christmas morning have never left my mind, or heart.  It was only by accident that I discovered who the 3 secret elves were, and I have kept their secret. 

Like the very first Christmas-mother, I too have “treasured up all these things and pondered them in (my) heart.” (Luke 2:19). We learned a simple and profound lesson that year. Christmas simply cannot be cancelled.  Even in the darkest of times in our life and even in the darkest spaces in our world, the light of Christmas will not stay under the bushel-basket.  The light will burst forth, spilling and spreading and dancing brighter and brighter as it is shared.  The light of Christmas brings not only joy but refreshment and rest to the weary and satisfies those who are feeling faint. 

Are you feeling weary this season? Lean into the rest and refreshment that only Jesus can provide.

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Sue Badeau is a Christian author, speaker and adoptive parent who trains, consults and speaks nationally and internationally on trauma, racial justice, family engagement and self-care .She and her husband, Hector are lifetime parents of 22; two by birth, 20 adopted, and have also been foster parents to 75 including refugees from Kosovo and Sudan. They have co-authored Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip, Adopting and Raising 22 Kids and Building Bridges of Hope: A Coloring Book for Adults Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma. Sue also has authored a 6-week devotional book based on Psalm 51 and her experiences living with and loving people with trauma histories, entitled Clean Heart, Renewed Joy and she has a collection of short stories with holiday themes entitled, Our Special Christmas Joy.

Join the conversation. What unusual Christmas have you experienced?


4 thoughts on “The Year We Cancelled Christmas

  1. Oh Sue, what a precious story. I wonder how many people out there would like “permission” to have a simple, quiet, time of reflection on that day?


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