When Santa Snubbed My Daughter on Her Birthday
We spend MaryEllen’s December birthdays at the local mall shopping because it’s her favorite thing to do. She loves the feeling of all the new outfits draped over her as we provide enthusiastic descriptions of each one.
So, it was only fitting we’d end the day with a visit to Santa. Even at 27, MaryEllen had a childlike love for Santa Claus. As soon as I mentioned Santa, she was giddy in her wheelchair, her face lighting up like a Christmas tree.
Lucky for us, there were no lines and we would quickly be at Santa’s side in no time. We fed off each other’s excitement, saying “Almost there, MaryEllen!” as we wound through the empty queue.
Having done this for many years, I knew the camera system at the mall wouldn’t accommodate us. MaryEllen and Kevin have poor head control and to take a photo, I have to take it from above. The mall camera takes photos at Santa’s eye level. For us, that would result in awesome pictures of the kids’ tonsils.
As we entered the photo area, I asked Santa if I could take pictures with my phone, explaining that the mall camera wouldn’t be able to take a good photo. “You can take a picture of the scene,” Santa said, as he rushed by MaryEllen and Kevin, not even acknowledging their existence. Shocked and still unsure of what just happened, I snapped a photo of the kids minus Santa.
Upon returning home and contemplating what had happened, I decided to call Santa headquarters. I didn’t want this to happen to other families. After many messages left and no return calls, I posted our story online. It quickly went viral and I was contacted by news outlets. We were assured things like this never happen and certainly would never happen again.
And this is how the Christmas spirit was born that year. We were contacted by two teachers whose students wanted MaryEllen and Kevin to be their guests at their high school’s Festival of Trees. Santa would be there and he wanted a photo session with my kids! We couldn’t wait to meet the teens who had such compassion. The day arrived and we were greeted at the school by a serenading choir leading us down the hall to a waiting Santa Claus, the real Santa Claus! Our hearts were full and my tears were flowing. This group of teens, who didn’t even know us, adopted MaryEllen and Kevin and showed them love and acceptance like we’d never seen before.
This is how it should be, mall Santa.
This post originally appeared on The Heartful Mom.
The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.
Want to help end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.