Enough with “Naughty or Nice”: Enterprising Parents Develop Alternative Christmas Product Encouraging Lasting Kindness

Arik and Amelia Cardenas are parents of two toddlers. They looked for a Christmas product that supported their values. When they didn’t find one, they created one.  They want to produce the product in time for this Christmas and have turned to online crowdfunding site Kickstarter for help.

Dallas, TX (WEB) April 6, 2015 — When Arik and Amelia Cardenas’s three year old daughter got excited about Santa for the first time last Christmas, they had mixed feelings. On the one hand, preparing for Santa’s arrival brought back warm childhood memories.  But her interest made them pay more attention to the messages surrounding the holiday, and they didn’t like what they heard.

“It gets dressed up in cheery music and colorful drawings, but there’s a lot of negativity and threats surrounding the Santa story,” says Amelia. “He’s watching kids all the time, checking his naughty/nice list. That message, aside from being a real bummer, also doesn’t equip kids for the really sticky moral dilemmas: the kind that happen when there isn’t anyone watching.”

It also puts the motivation in the wrong place, says Arik. “The naughty/nice story teaches kids to be ‘good’ to get an outside reward (presents) or to avoid an outside threat (a lump of coal). But the best motivation comes from inside. You can call it a moral compass or an internal code of behavior. It’s what makes for good human beings, and we consider it our obligation as parents to help our kids develop it.”

The couple searched for a Santa-themed product that promoted those ideals. When they didn’t find one, they made one. The result, The Spirit Post, combines an illustrated children’s book, a plush toy owl, and a story that encourages children to look for ways to spread kindness (and Christmas Spirit) every day.

Arik and Amelia believe that by focusing on kindness daily, kids will develop a habit that lasts a lifetime. “The big weakness in using threats and rewards to mold kids’ behavior is what happens when those threats and rewards go away,” says Amelia. “Come Christmas morning, the naughty/nice story loses all its power. The kids get their presents and go off into January without any lasting moral guidance. Our goal with The Spirit Post is to help make kindness part of kids’ moral fabric. When that happens, kids will do the right thing no matter who (if anyone) is watching, and no matter what they stand to gain or lose.”

The duo hope to fund an initial run of 5,000 The Spirit Post packages for delivery this Christmas. They have turned to Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site, for help. Through the site, “backers” can pledge to donate funds to independent creative projects. It’s an all or nothing proposition: Arik and Amelia have set a $117,000 funding goal. They have 30 days to reach it. Per Kickstarter rules, if they don’t, they get nothing.

“It’s stressful for sure,” says Arik. “But also crazy exciting. We’re really proud of this product and what it stands for. We hope we get the chance to share it with people.”

The Spirit Post Kickstarter project runs through May 6. If the funding goal is unmet, no funds change hands.

Those interested in supporting the project should visit to learn more.

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About Arik and Amelia:

Arik and Amelia Cardenas are high school sweethearts who live in Dallas with their 3 year old daughter, 20 month old son, and 2 pups. Arik is a photographer and stay at home dad; Amelia is an immigration lawyer. They are big on questioning the status quo.



Teacher Wins $1 Million Prize, Donates It All To Education

After winning the $1 million Global Teacher Prize, Nancie Atwell, an English teacher from rural Maine, donated it to charity. Well it wasn’t just any charity. She’s donating the full prize to the Center for Teaching and Learning, which she founded in 1990 in Edgecomb, Maine as a nonprofit demonstration school created for the purpose of developing and disseminating teaching methods.

Her rationale for giving the money away is as amazing as the generous act itself.  While the price is a great validation of her work, “I really find that I’m validated every day just by the experiences I have with children in the classroom,” she said.