This week we had a little switcheroo in our norm... just to keep you on your toes (that reminds me, maybe I'll write you a letter in a few weeks about why you like to walk on your tippy toes...). Papa was having surgery in Michigan, so mommy went to help, leaving daddy to run the show. While daddy is super capable, it's not often that I leave, so there was bound to be a little adjustment for all of us. The good news is that you're daddy is a rockstar and managed to control the chaos quite nicely...although I'm pretty sure I heard a significant sigh of relief when I came home!
So while mommy headed north to the winter wonderland of the mitten state, a very special man (who goes by the name of Santa) was heading south to see you and the other little children of our neighborhood.
Let me back up a bit. For many years, we as a family would skip out on the customary pictures with Santa, even though dad and I would love to have had keepsakes of this "rite of passage" for you and your siblings. Why do we skip out? It has always been for the practical reason of not wanting to torture you my dear. Aren't we nice?
We love you, and the idea of putting you through hell the week before Christmas didn't seem very festive to us. You see, pictures with Santa are typically performed at places that are loud, crowded and generally filled with things that drive you bonkers. And then there are the lines... oh my. Long, winding lines where you and the other children would be expected to stand there and behave (ha, ha, ha), only to be rewarded by getting plopped onto a strangers lap who would look at you and ask what you wanted for Christmas (not realizing that you and he were on different pages when it comes to communication). This would inevitably lead to crocodile tears and a loud showing of displeasure - and that's just dad's reaction :)! But hey, we got that picture right?!?!? No thanks.
Basically the sensory stimulation in this type of environment makes you very sad, which in turn makes us all sad. And who wants to be sad right before Christmas? We are the Menzo's not the Grinches, so not us! As a result, year after year we skipped the whole scene.
But this year, there was something different in the air. Something new and magical in the Santa Clause, Christmas interaction/picture department... let me explain.
A few months ago, we got a notice that our neighborhood was hosting a special "Breakfast with Santa." As is typically the case with events like this (kindly see above), my initial thoughts were... um... no thank you. BUT then I learned that this event wasn't the same as the others. Like Rudolf, it was different and special. You see my dear, our neighborhood had found a Santa with a red nose. Oh wait, strike that. Our neighborhood had found a "Sensory Santa" to come and visit the good little boys and girls. They even provided an opportunity for kids like you to meet with Santa earlier than the others to help you avoid the hustle and bustle and allow us more time for unpredictability. Guess what Addie? It was HUGE success!
Your daddy was great. He gave me an amazing play by play of the festivities. He texted pictures, videos and even FaceTimed me during the breakfast that followed (gotta love technology). From all I could see, it went great. So what was it about this Santa that made him so magical? Daddy described the scene for me in detail, and it is really interesting. When y'all first arrived, dressed to impress and excitement in your eyes, Clara and Gabe happily rushed to greet Ole' St. Nick with hugs and mouths a'chatter. You, however, predictably stayed back - a little unsure.
Recognizing the situation, our Super Sensory Santa slowly moved the chatterboxes closer to you and extended his hand, knowing you might like the soft texture of his bright, white glove. He was right. You felt his hand, and eventually moved closer staring intently at his long white beard. In the minutes that followed, you calmly spent time in the presence of Kris Kringle while Miss Tammy captured some amazing photos (like she always does...). Looking at these pictures, I feel like I was there.
It turns out that this was not just a coincidence. Santa was actually very much aware of your sensory challenges and took specific care to accommodate. From arranging the meeting in a quiet, private setting, to being patient and quiet as you and he engaged (not bursting in with any boisterous "Ho, Ho, Ho's" as he approached you). The intentionally soft texture of his gloves and his calming, peaceful voice made you comfortable, and was unlike the typical mall Santa picture experience we avoided in Christmases past.
What a blessing my dear. To have all three of you enjoy a magical Christmas moment together in peace and without anxiety or tears (good job holding it together daddy...).
I love you Addie.