It takes a special Santa to understand all children – and these are incredible examples…
1. Santa tells boy with autism: “It’s OK to be yourself”
Landon Johnson told Father Christmas at his local shopping centre in Michigan that he sometimes gets into trouble at school because it’s hard for people to understand he’s not a “naughty boy”, he just has autism. And Santa reacted in the best way ever… he listened.
Landon’s mum Naomi posted on Facebook: “He opened up to this person about who he was and he was accepted. He wasn’t a science experiment; like he gets treated when most people find out he has autism. He was Landon, sitting with Santa and being told that it was OK to be himself.”
2. Santa helps a grieving dad
In Georgia, a man turned up to visit Santa with just a photo frame. The man said “I have a request,” and turned the frame round to show a picture of his baby son.
“My son passed away, last year,” but then he faltered and couldn’t say anymore.
“Absolutely,” said Santa, without needing to hear anymore.
Santa continues: “Without anyone saying anything, he handed me the frame and I placed it on my knee. In the photo, I could see on the little boy’s armband that his first name was Hayden. I didn’t ask any questions, but I am guessing that this is his first photo with Santa. The camera snap was the only sound I could hear through the entire mall. Normally, I hear all kinds of music and sounds, but it was absolutely silent.
“After a handful of clicks, we walked over to the screen and he pointed, saying, “That’s the one.” The girl working the computer printed him a full photo package and he pulled out his wallet, saying that this was going to be his gift to his wife. We gave him the printed package, telling him that it was a gift and that we would be praying for his family, this Christmas.
“He grabbed my hand and pulled me in and hugged me, then turned around and left. As he walked out, we all had tears in their eyes. I’m sharing this to remind us all that Christmastime is unbelievably hard for some families. Pray for the brokenhearted. Smile at people. Just be kind.”
3. Santa signs to girl who finds it hard to talk
3-year-old Mali isn’t deaf, but does struggle with speech and language. She’s been having help with her communication issues and has learnt some sign language.
When Mali’s mum explained to Santa in his Cleveland Centre grotto that Mali can’t talk very well, he immediately asked if she could sign, and started communicating with Mali using his hands. Mali loved it when Santa asked if she wanted a doll for Christmas. You can watch their video here. Just wonderful.
4. Santa snoozes with a toddler who’s just had a seizure
This little boy suffers from epilepsy and had a seizure on his way to visit Santa at Belden Village Mall in Ohio. When he arrived he’d fallen asleep, but mum Samantha didn’t want 2-year-old Ryland to miss the opportunity. So she asked Santa if Ryland could still sit on his lap and he said yes.
In fact, he took the opportunity to create a lovely napping space for Ryland, resulting in this brilliant photo.
“Epilepsy is definitely going to dictate some of the things you can and can’t do, but you cannot let it rule your life,” mum Samantha told NY Daily News.
5. Santa gets on the floor to bond
Over in North Carolina, 6-year-old Brayden can be overcome with shyness due to his autism. There are certain situations that make him particularly anxious – including visiting Santa.
So rather than wait for Brayden to come and sit on his lap, Father Christmas got down on the ground with him and gave him a snowglobe to play with.
“[My son] very much wanted to see Santa but was very shy and doesn’t like eye contact,” Brayden’s mum Erin Deely commented on the pictures.
“Luckily Santa had that awesome snowglobe so they traded and bonded on the floor. No meltdowns and no forcing on our part.”
6. Father Christmas even when he’s off-duty
There’s never a day off for Santa (forget those 364 non-Christmas days). And you can’t blame a little boy for blurting out, “OMG it’s Santa!” when he came face to face with this white-bearded man at a doughnut shop in Canada.
But Santa didn’t miss a beat.
“Have you sent your letter to me yet?” he asked.
“No, I’ll be doing it tonight,” the boy replied.
“You better be nice to your mum and sister because I’m watching,” Father Christmas said, before saying goodbye because he “had to get back to the North Pole to finish the toys with the elves”.