To Santa, From the Mom Whose Son With Autism Pulled You Aside

Dear Santa,

My son, Cristian, talks about you nonstop starting in mid-October. He wants to know what your favorite cookies are, how the weather is in the North Pole and just how many toys you can fit on your sleigh. He wonders how you’ll get into our house without a chimney and how you’ll find the children who don’t live in homes. He asks how the reindeer are doing — especially Rudolph — and how they stay warm during your trip. He wants to know the best way to send you his list and how you’ll know whether he’s been naughty or nice.

Cristian has never been scared of you personally, since you always bring a smile to his face. He gets excited when he sees you on TV at the end of the Thanksgiving parade because he knows it’s your time to shine. If he’s being naughty, I might have to tell him you may not make appearance at our house on December 24. But he knows you always pull through for him. 

He loves to sing songs about you in the car but only starting the day after Thanksgiving. He knows that you’ve sent Elfis Presleigh, our Elf on the Shelf, to watch over him and make sure he’s being as good as he can be.

Cristian has turned Christmas Eve into one of his most favorite routines. We come home from church and eat one of his favorite foods — spaghetti. He then searches for the last gift that Elfis left him, which is always a new pair of pajamas. We then work on the letter to you, which is always filled with crumbs from the cookies he eats along the way. We fill up a platter with cookies for you and carrots for your reindeer friends and head to the couch until he falls asleep watching Christmas specials and dreaming of sugarplums and your arrival.

Mandy Reilly.2-001

I just want you to know all of this so you’re not offended if he has a meltdown near you this year when we visit you for a “Breakfast with Santa” event at his school next Saturday. As I’m sure you know, Mr. Claus, Cristian has autism and ADHD. Do you remember last year? It was touch and go there for a while because he wanted it to be just you, him and the photographer in the library. No one really understood, but you and I did — and that’s all that mattered. As your gloved hand grabbed mine and told me everything would be all right, I felt a wave of calmness rush over me. I remember asking him on the way home why he didn’t want anyone in the room, myself included, and he told me that it was his special moment with you.

I’m not sure what you two talked about, but he walked out of that room with the biggest smile on his face holding the bag of goodies you gave him. He wouldn’t tell me what he asked you for, but I’m guessing you pulled through for him. When I saw the picture of you and Cristian later, I could tell the way you held him tight and the smiles on your faces that you definitely pulled through for him.

I do know one thing you told him, and it brought tears to my eyes when he told me about it. You told him to be a good boy, but you further specified what you meant. You told him you know he’s special and to try really hard because you know it can be difficult sometimes for him to sit still, pay attention or hold his emotions in. But then you told him you know he’s a boy with a good heart and full of love and that you were proud of him. Santa, you couldn’t have said it any better.

Thank you, Santa, for always pulling through for Cristian. For clearing out the room so my boy could have his moment with you. For understanding all children deserve to have a special moment with you, regardless of their special needs. For being as magical and wonderful in real life as you are in his dreams. For bringing that smile to his face — a smile that will be forever engrained in my memories as the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. For bringing the pep to his step no matter what time it is as he drags me down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what you’ve brought him.

One day, he’ll stop believing in you, and it will be one of my saddest days as a parent. But until then, I’m going to soak up every moment. Thank you for making all of those moments possible.


One Grateful Mommy

P.S. Chocolate chip or sugar this year?

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love during the holiday season. 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.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mom Desperately Searches for Primrose-Colored Markers for Autistic Son

Stacey Haley’s 12-year-old son Will loves coloring, but lately the only marker he’s interested in using is the primrose shade. Will has autism, and Haley says the color is more than just an obsession — it’s Will’s security blanket. “He goes to sleep thinking about it and he wakes up thinking about it,” Haley told [...]

To the Teenager Just Diagnosed With Autism

I would first like to say, “Welcome to the club.” It’s a club with some of the greatest people you’ll probably ever know. Believe me, I know how you feel. You’re probably feeling really overwhelmed right now, which is completely OK. I went home after I found out and curled up in a ball for [...]

How Autism Affects My Sex Life

When you’re in your final years of school, you might start to fancy people, and this makes you want to spend time with them. You get these urges (which are healthy, by the way), and you might want to get “jiggy with it,” as the youth of today say. The problem with school is that [...]

To the Little Boy at Chick-fil-A Who Came Up to My Son With Autism

We were out of our normal routine and in a location we’d never visited before. This Chick-fil-A was bustling and the play area was full of kids — most of them bigger than mine. We ordered food, chose a table right up against the glass of the play area so we could watch the kids and settled [...]