There are few things more special for a child than visiting Santa Claus. After hearing so much about him and seeing him in all the movies, kids are understandably excited when they see the real deal standing in front of them, yet for some children it is easier than others. Misty Wolf didn’t know what to expect when she took her 6-year-old son Matthew to visit Santa, but the response blew her away.
Matthew had a particularly difficult start to life. He and his twin were both born 24 weeks prematurely, and unfortunately his twin did not make it. For Matthew it was touch and go for a long time as well. He spent 111 days in intensive care and unfortunately developed Stage 5 Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).
ROP is a disorder that affects premature births, where the underdevelopment of blood vessels in the eye means that not enough oxygen can be circulated. The later stages of the disorder can cause lifelong blindness.
At birth, Matthew’s prognosis was not good. His mother Misty explained on Love What Matters, “He brain scans told the doctors that Matthew would never walk or talk. But God had other plans.”
God certainly did have other plans. Matthew survived, walked and talked. Although he had developed learning difficulties and would never regain his sight, this little man was able to live a pretty full childhood.
To make his Christmas complete, Misty took Matthew to visit Santa Claus. Due to his blindness, Matthew usually “sees” things by touching them. Misty needed to explain this to Santa:
I whispered to Santa, ‘He is blind and autistic and is very interested in Santa’.
He said, ‘Say no more,’ and immediately got down on the floor to greet my little man.
This wonderful Santa didn’t stop there. He talked to Matthew for a long time, let him pull his beard, feel his hat and even spoke about his bright red suit.
He even took special requests from Matthew to make sure that his experience with Santa was everything that he wanted it to be. Misty explained:
He asked Matthew if he wanted to feel anything and Matthew said, ‘Your eyes that twinkle,’ (from the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.)
So, Santa let him touch all over his eyes for as long as Matthew wanted.
Yet Santa kept going to make sure that this day would remain in Matthew’s memory forever. Now that Matthew had met Santa, he made sure that the little boy could meet some of Santa’s helpers as well. Misty explained:
Then Santa said, ‘Have you ever felt a real reindeer?’
Santa then carried him over to the display area. And had Matthew pet the reindeer they had set up. It was great. My heart was full seeing Matthew so interested. Best Santa ever!
Growing up with a disability is undoubtedly difficult, and often things that are normal for other children become out of reach for those who are impaired. However, if there are more kind people like this Santa around, we can make sure that the world is equally great for everyone.