The run-up to Christmas can be a very busy time, and that’s just for the kids! The tree has to be decorated, gingerbread houses made, festive cards put in the mail, and of course, a wish list needs to be written. But what good is the list if Santa Claus doesn’t see it? Hence the tradition of parents taking their kids to meet the Jolly Old Elf in person so they can assure St. Nick they’ve been good and deserve some excellent presents.
On a swing through western Michigan, Santa Claus was holding court at the RiverTown Crossings Mall near Grand Rapids. Naomi Johnson took her son Landon and some of his cousins to meet Mr. Kringle. Landon’s chat with Santa seemed normal enough: he asked for a Nintendo Wii, a remote controlled car, and a toy dinosaur. After posing for a photo, Landon hopped off Santa’s lap and went over to his mom and cousins to wait for the photos.
But then Landon dashed back over to Father Christmas. So nervous that his hands were shaking, Landon told Santa he had autism and asked if that was going to put him on the dreaded naughty list. As his mom described the scene, “Santa sat him next to him and took Landon’s hands in his and started rubbing them, calming them down. Santa asked Landon if it bothered him, having autism? Landon said yes, sometimes. Then Santa told him it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t bother him to be who he is.”
“It’s okay to be you” was all Landon needed to hear. The kid really was worried he’d be on the naughty list, getting nothing but a few lumps of coal for Christmas. People who don’t know him often do think he’s being naughty, unaware that he has autism. Santa knew this all along, of course, but there was no harm in reminding him.
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