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ST. GEORGE — Christmas won't be coming this year to the Edwards' home.
Instead of receiving presents Christmas morning, the Edwards have opted to play the role of Santa themselves and deliver supplies and toys to a village in Guatemala. The family of six will be traveling to Guatemala to buy presents and bring them to a small village in-person Wednesday.
“They’re excited," said father Sam Edwards of his children. "We’re literally putting pictures of the trip in their stockings and that’s all they’re getting. This Christmas we’re not getting, we’re just giving.”
Misha and Sam Edwards said they were inspired to use the money they would typically spend on presents for their four children, ranging in age from 5 to 13, for charity during a vacation in Guatemala in February. During their trip they said they were impressed by the kindness and humility of the people living in a village where they paid to have lunch in a family's home.
When they saw a little girl struggling to push a broken tricycle with wooden wheels, they decided they wanted to give their children the opportunity to give their Christmas to someone else.
"She was entertaining herself and having fun, but in that moment my husband was like ‘We are going to bring our kids back here. Santa is not coming next year. Our kids are going to give everything away to these little kids,' " Misha Edwards said.
They said their decision to give to others for Christmas has already allowed their children to think about how much they really need presents like Christmas dresses or new pajamas, Misha Edwards said.
“It has kind of been nice just for them to think about it," she said. "For the little things they ask themselves ‘Do I need it? Do I have to have it?’ And the answer is always 'No.'”
The Edwards have no connection to Guatemala or the village other than their previous vacation, but said despite hearing it can be dangerous to travel in Guatemala, they felt safe in the jungle village.
“I was kind of nervous about that at first, but once I realized that they’re just normal little kids who need love and affection it was OK," Misha Edwards said. "There were these little girls who kept following me throughout the village and they just didn’t want us to leave.”
Buying the presents and bringing them to the village will take several days. They plan to buy medical and school supplies, plus toys, in a bigger city before taking an hour-long jungle boat ride and then hiking 2 miles to get into the village. While there, they said they hope their children will be able to do some service by picking up trash or helping build a roof to learn more about the culture.
They said they kids are excited and their 12-year-old son told them he has always wanted to do something like this. They are most concerned their 5-year-old daughter may be disappointed on Christmas morning when Santa Claus doesn't stop by their house, but that it will be a great opportunity to learn.
“I think in the long run she’ll remember giving something to that little girl with a tricycle instead of getting the Barbie doll she wanted,” Misha Edwards said.