Christmas is a time when our hearts open just a little more. Maybe that’s why we’re touched so deeply by stories like Eric Schmitt-Matzen’s.
Eric is a dead ringer for Santa Claus and has portrayed the Jolly Elf for years at all types of events. But none of those experiences prepared him for what happened after he got a call from a friend who works as a pediatric nurse at the local hospital.
She told Eric that a terminally ill 5-year-old boy desperately wanted to see Santa. Eric instantly agreed and said he just need some time to get into costume. The gravity of the situation hit Eric when his friend told him there was no time for that – just come in your Santa suspenders.
When Eric arrived at the hospital he met the boy’s mother, who gave Eric a PAWS Patrol toy she planned to give her son for Christmas. Eric, the consummate pro, asked that the boy’s room be clear. He knew that if anyone began crying, he, too, would lose control thus losing the magic of the moment.
Eric went to the boy’s bedside and told him, “You’re my number one elf! Eric handed the boy his present eliciting a big smile from the clearly weakened child. Then it got hard. The boy confided in Eric that he knew he was dying and shared his fear about where he was headed and whether he will get into heaven. Eric reacted perfectly. He leaned close and told the boy, “When you get there, tell them you’re my number one elf and I know they’ll let you in.”
The boy sat up, elated. He hugged Eric, and said, “Santa, can you help me?” Then, he died in Eric’s arms.
Eric was a wreck for a few days afterwards and even considered ending his Santa career. But he recovered enough to work another Santa show, reasoning that he has an important role to play in kids’ lives.
Santa usually delivers joy. But in this case, he delivered the most valuable present of all, comfort.
Will you be a happy retiree? Take the quiz!