The Beautiful Reason My Son Still Believes in Santa


Dear Good Samaritan,

Let me start by introducing myself: My name is Courtney. My husband and I have an 8-year-old son with autism and then some. Our little boy struggles with more labels than a clearance item, I have many chronic illnesses, and my husband has more metal in his body than bones.

I know the church doesn’t tell you who we are; I know they don’t tell you our story, for confidential reasons. I’m reaching out to tell you our story, because I want you to know.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, full of magic and wonder, love and family, yet every year, I dread that countdown.

Paying our bills is a stretch, so of course, buying presents for our son is something that isn’t possible. I worry that he won’t get a visit from Santa. I worry about how we’ll put presents under the tree.

My son doesn’t worry; he believes in the magic of Christmas. Every year during the week before Thanksgiving, he starts in about the tree. You see, part of being autistic is a mind that fixates on something and then hyper-focuses on it, so it’s around this time the Christmas fascination begins in full swing. (He starts his wish list before Halloween, though.)

We, of course, have a fake tree because we can’t afford to buy a real one, but it’s a little tree, and we love it for its memories. So with tradition, the day before Turkey Day, my son and I get out the tree and assemble it.

He then helps me string the lights, and we plug it in. Making him wait until the next morning to decorate is a chore, but he’s getting better at knowing why we wait.

On Thanksgiving morning as we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we as a family decorate our tree. My son is all a-chatter about Santa coming soon, ooing and ahhing over his special and most prized ornaments. He’s in his glory.

We, too, are happy, but we’re still wondering, still praying, that our family has been “adopted” by a good soul such as yourself.

Of course, our son doesn’t know this. As the days turn into weeks and we run our errands, each time we see a red-kettle bell ringer my son gets all excited. He gathers all the change in the car, and crams it into his pockets.

He drops them a lot because his motor skills are off, and he gets upset with himself. Nevertheless, we gather everything up, and he proudly deposits his change into the kettle.

His face glows with pride, and so do ours — we may not have a lot, but as the saying goes, together we have it all.

We can’t afford a lot, but we know and have taught our son about the good the Salvation Army does for others, and he never forgets.

Then we get a call from the church that our prayers have been answered. A kind soul, an anonymous good Samaritan, has chosen our family to help with Christmas.

What a true blessing. Each year when my husband picks up the boxes, there are presents for the entire family. Stockings stuffed to the gills with goodies and small toys. (Perfect for little ones with sensory and motor skills needs.)

And each year, we cry in secret, in sadness, because we can’t make Christmas magical, but also in relief that someone else, someone who doesn’t even know us, cares enough to make it happen.

I thank you: for the relief, for caring, for making our holiday so special, for answering my son’s wishes.

I can’t yet tell my son about you. He’s 8, and he still believes. You know how I know? I know because he said to me the other day, “Momma! I know that Santa Claus is real! You know how I know?”

I replied, “No, buddy, how do you know?” and he looked at me with his chubby little cheeks and his adorable little grin and replied, “I know ’cause we are poor, but I still get presents. So that means that Santa has to be real!”

I smiled and walked away. I had to “go to the bathroom.” I closed the door, turned on the faucet to drown out my noise, and I cried.

I cried because my son knows we’re poor. I cried because he still believes in the magic of Santa. I cried because of you. Because of your love and kindness for our family.

I’m not telling you our story for sympathy. I’m not sharing this for attention. I am reaching out because from one human to another, I want you to know, just how much what you do means to us.

I want you to know that we are thankful. We feel blessed by your kindness. You are keeping the spirit of Santa alive for a little boy who truly deserves the world.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts,

A Family in Need

xmas 2013

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