25 days of disappointment

Let me tell you about how, a few years ago, I created a family Christmas tradition …

… which has caused me nothing but stress, and given my kids 25 days of disappointment.

It began one day in Aldi, as disappointment often does.

I had the choice between buying an advent calendar for $12, or 25 small ‘stockings on a string’ for $5.

Guess which one the Barefoot Investor chose?

Now, given stockings on a string aren’t as intuitive as opening a calendar each day, I concocted a complicated backstory that involved elves coming to the farm each night and leaving a gift in a little numbered stocking to help the kids count down to Christmas.

Father of the year, right?


There’s always at least one night I forget, meaning I have to explain to our lip-quivering kids the next morning why the elves didn’t come. Slightly better, one morning I bolted upright in bed as I heard the kids stirring, raced down the hall, and stuffed something in the stocking:

“Dad, the elves gave us … a AAA battery?”

“They’re smart, those elves. You never know when you’ll need a battery … like for the TV remote”, said the worst father in the world.

Ho! Ho! D’Oh!

Christmas may be known as the time for ‘giving’, but to most school-aged kids it’s really a time for ‘getting’:

A survey by News Limited earlier this month found that an overwhelming majority of parents (76%) say their kids have higher expectations of what Christmas presents they’ll receive compared to when they were kids.

Yet expectation is one reindeer down from entitlement.

So while ‘25 days of disappointment’ is a family Christmas tradition I’ve created, it’s not the only one.

Throughout the year my kids follow the Barefoot ‘3, 3, 3’ rule of pocket money. (Three weekly jobs, dished into three jam jars marked ‘Splurge’, ‘Smile’ and ‘Give’, checked off each Sunday night in three minutes.)

And the most important money jar at this time of the year when we’re being undermined by fat men in red suits, and bombarded with advertising is the Give Jar.

This simple little pocket money system has helped us create a new family legend: our family helps people in our community who are doing it tough at Christmas. That’s what we do … that’s who we are. We’re givers and it feels great.

Now that is a Christmas family tradition that will breed happiness and kindness.

Tread Your Own Path!