I wanted to write about all that has been going on in my head the past several days. About the heartbreaking tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut. About my anger over the media trying to (wrongly) link Aspergers and autism to violent behavior. About my own daughter with autism, and how she is so afraid of violence she won’t even watch Harry Potter because she can’t deal with the idea of Harry’s parents being killed.
But...I can’t. It’s too much to process right now.
So instead, I’ll share with you a happy story, about two little girls who got to walk to Santa’s house to meet him and have a snack with him.
One of our neighbors is a professional Santa, and his wife dresses up as Mrs. Claus. He lives one street over, and we see him occasionally throughout the year. He’s clean shaven from January thru late Spring, then begins growing the beard back in for the holidays.
This year they sent invites to the neighborhood to come to Santa’s house for milk and cookies one Sunday afternoon. Their house is always well-decorated for Christmas, including an extra mailbox for letters to Santa. The invite was to all kids to come to Santa’s house and meet with him.
Our kids were confused as to how Santa could live in our neighborhood. We explained that Santa has lots of homes all over the world, and visits each of them often so he can keep an eye on all of the good little boys and girls in that area. When he’s not there, he has helpers who keep up the house for him. For two little girls who love Santa, that was an easy story to buy into.
So we took them to our neighbor’s open house, and we were greeted at the door by Santa. Cordy and Mira were stunned into silence for only a moment, before bursting through the door and telling Santa how much they liked his decorations. Mrs. Claus then appeared and guided the girls into the kitchen to pick out some cookies and snacks.
We chatted a little bit while other families arrived. Then Santa sat down in his chair and invited the kids to come talk with him. Each took their turn telling him what they’ve been up to lately and what they hope he’ll bring them on Christmas. Mrs. Claus took photos of each of the kids with Santa, too. (Likely better than my blurry iPhone pics here.)
Having “Santa” as a neighbor is helpful, because he knew right where they lived, and he already knew they had a dog named Cosmo – they really believed he was watching them all the time. Getting that kind of confirmation from him reinforced for them that Santa was real.
This is type of gesture that reminds me there are still good people in the world. There was no cost for this open house, although donations of canned food for our local food bank or gently used coats for the homeless shelter were encouraged.
They opened their home and their kitchen up to all of the families of our neighborhood. They had been baking sugar cookies for days to prepare, and the snack spread was impressive. Time, energy, and money were given out with no expectations in return.
No child left that home without one-on-one time with Santa, and the room was filled with lots of smiling little faces as it sunk in that they were visiting Santa’s house. It was pure joy and love.
I don’t think any other Santa will be able to top that experience for my kids. Or for me.