Melissa Cooke was fed up with her children’s incredibly bad behaviour in the lead up to the festive season so she cancelled it to teach them a lesson. And boy, what a lesson it turned out to be.
“I’m relatively strict, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d follow through with cancelling Christmas,” she told the Sun Herald.
The momentous decision happened in 2011 when William was 11, Elisabeth was 8, and Hugh was 6. Elisabeth did something so naughty it made her mum realise drastic action was needed to pull her kids into line.
''She stole $50 from my husband at 3am in the morning,'' Ms Cooke recalls. ''And then she left school grounds at 10am, [went to the shop] bought that amount of lollies, and then … gave peanut M&Ms to a child with allergies, who ended up in hospital.''
Here's just some of the other stuff her kids got up to:
* Elisabeth wagged school;
* Elisabeth and her little brother Hugh begged for money on the main road near their house so they could buy lollies;
* Eldest son William wouldn't listen to her;
* All children refused to go to bed frequently;
* The kids were constantly fighting.
She turned to Facebook to vent her frustration, writing:
What is it about this time of year when kids are at their most revolting???! I promised that that Xmas would be cancelled and theyre getting worse! Well...I can't take back that promise now can I?! Any other parental ideas ? Nothing is working!!!
She soon discovered many mums were feeling the same way, receiving the following responses:
Threaten them with Santa's evil twin visiting instead? He TAKES toys! (just thought of this now, may use it msyelf! LOL
Santa didn't come to our place one year...As the youngest, I don't really remember what the effect was, but it gets talked about every year, even now that we're all adults...
So Mrs Cooke began getting serious about the threat to cancel Christmas as the children's behaviour became worse. At first her husband disagreed but soon became fed up with their behaviour as well.
The children didn't quite believe Christmas was off that year, even as their parents took the tree down. On Christmas morning there was a lot of whispering and searching for hidden presents.
Looking back, Mrs Cooke, who lives in Sydney's north-west, says Christmas morning was miserable. Instead of the joy of being with her family and watching her children tear open their presents, she was left delivering them a harsh lesson.
"It was quiet, there was no traffic noise, there was no nothing, no giggling kids running around with toys, there was just deathly silence. I don't think we spoke that morning."
Mrs Cooke and her husband considered caving, but decided to remain steadfast.
Two days after Christmas had been and gone the family went on an outback camping trip and turned a corner. They managed to repair and reconnect. They never celebrated Christmas that year, even belatedly.
Mrs Cooke says she'll never cancel Christmas again and will stick to smaller threats that can be more easily actioned. Her children now know that when mum makes a threat she'll she it through and are much better behaved, especially around Christmas time. "You know mummy keeps her promises," she said.
What's the worst punishment you were ever given as a kid?