Can You Cancel Christmas with Twenty-Two Kids?

Today I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, Sue Badeau, to you. Sue is a national inspirational speaker and writer and a graduate of Christian Communicators. She and her husband Hector have raised 22 children of diverse backgrounds, many with disabilities, 3 with terminal illnesses who have passed away. They now enjoy 35 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Read on as she shares an inspirational true story of a Christmas that almost wasn’t.

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

“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. When my husband and I were first married 33 years ago, we began a tradition of doing something special on each day of advent to allow the anticipation to build, the light and joy of the season to grow day by day in the spirit of “Maranatha.” The activities ranged from baking special recipes, to making homemade ornaments, to reaching out and visiting a nursing home or prison. As each new child joined the family, these festivities also grew and traditions from each of their heritage, memory and culture were added to the mix. 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 all piling up along with the endless stack of bills to be paid. Another blow was dealt to us just days after Thanksgiving and my husband and I had reached the breaking point. “That’s it!” We declared that we had just had enough and we were “canceling 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 most importantly, no gifts.

We needed a break from the action. We needed rest.

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 pay and tips 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 tiptoed 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 my 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).

The dollar-store goodies that they provided were worth more than all the other gifts of Christmas past and future. 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.

As the chaos and noisiness of the first festivities of Advent 2012 begin with rambunctious grandchildren excitedly setting out the decorations while others stir up the cookies and blend up the eggnog, I am bursting with gratitude and reminded that Christmas is ALWAYS amazing in our house!


The Badeaus understand that parents caring for children with special needs often need rest and refreshment, so while Sue continues to use her life experiences to inspire others through her speaking, they are also developing a ministry to open their home to provide rest, refreshment and care for caregivers. To learn more about their family and vision, or Sue’s speaking, visit and . Maranatha!

Vonda Skelton

Vonda is a speaker, writer, and motivational humorist who is thankful God can take her messes and use them for His glory. She's the author of four books, owner of The Christian Writer's Den blog, and founder of Christian Communicators, an organization to help educate, validate, and launch women in their speaking ministries. Vonda and her husband have been married all their lives--and they're still happy about it!

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  1. Great article. What wonderful children you raised and what a wonderful lesson. The darkness flees in the light of Christ’s birth, indeed!

    Just the thought of doing Christmas–or anything else–with 22 kids makes me dizzy. I had two children and barely managed.

    I suppose you are testimony to the truth that if God calls, he also equips. You’re an inspiration.

  2. I love the truth your story reveals – that nothing we do nor nothing we face can cancel the perfect gift of Jesus. His light shines no matter what! Thank you so much for the wonderful reminder of that truth.

  3. Wow, Sue, what a powerful yet beautiful ministry of hope and healing God is bringing through you. Praise Him! Praying many blessings over you and your family.

  4. Oh, Sue!

    Your family’s story is a blessing to me over and over again. And here you uncover yet another way our children are gifts from the Lord. Thank you for one of the most heartwarming Christmas memories I have ever heard.

    Blessings on you, dear sister.

  5. Wow! Sue, your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it with us and for all the darling pictures to go with the story. Thank you, Vonda, for featuring Sue Badeau. She is one incredible woman of God.

  6. Sue, What a blessing you are, and to so many. Much more than you can count. I struggled with one child. Yes, one. God has certainly equipped you and your husband. What a team! Thank you for sharing your amzing story with us.

    Let the Light shine!

    Love ~ Danie

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