One morning early last week Ashley Kate and I ventured out to run a few errands. It was still early and there weren't many people out and about. Most at work, kids obviously in school and so the mall crowd was pretty light. A safe time of day for us to drop in, pick up a couple of gifts and pop back out.
As we walked down the corridor I could see the large tree decorated in the center of the mall and Ashley spotted it too. She began to sign "tree, lights" and I was talking to her about how big the tree was and how high it went. As we got closer we could see the line that had just started to form. Little ones all dressed up and waiting with their eyes sparkling to see the man in the red suit. Like I said, it was early and he had yet to arrive.
We proceeded past the line and into Dillards. I grabbed the two items I needed and did a little bit of extra shopping while I was there. Ash had her dinosaur in hand, her little mask on her face, and two backpacks filled with bags of fluids and IV pumps. She was enjoying the music that was playing and "dancing her dinosaur" back and forth to the sounds of jingle bells. Just a good time for us both. We finished our shopping and went back out the way we had come in.
As we walked past the tree and around to the front of it we signed and talked a little more about the ornaments and the colors. We had no intentions of visiting with the "big guy" knowing that a wait in that line would not be in her best interest. So what happened next took me by surprise, but blessed my heart in such a way that I'm not so sure it wasn't the most precious Christmas memory I have ever experienced.
Apparently as we were looking at the Christmas tree Santa had arrived, settled himself into the large chair and was readying himself for a long day at work. The line began to get excited at his arrival and the photographers were handing out their price lists. Then I noticed the big guy getting back up out of his chair. He left his place and approached my sweet Ashley with a look of kindness across his face. He knelt down in front of her, reached his white gloved hand out and brushed it across her cheek. I could hear her giggle behind her mask. I was taken in by the look in his eyes. They were full of compassion, full of kindness, and it seemed maybe even full of understanding although I could have just imagined the latter. I can't deny that in that moment tears had formed in my eyes as I watched this silent interaction between the "star of the show" and my youngest daughter. There were no words exchanged between the two, but the conversation they were having with one another spoke volumes to the heart of this mommy. He didn't stay long, but he was there long enough to make an impression on my heart. It was a moment that I'm sure my sweet Ashley will have no memory of, but one that I will never forget. As he stood up to leave her he reached down and patted her dinosaur on its back and then patted her on top of her head. I was barely able to get the words out of my mouth, but I choked back the tears and whispered "Merry Christmas" to the gentle man and he nodded his head as he walked back to his place.
I've thought about this interaction with Santa Claus and Ashley a lot over the last few days. I can't quite put into words how very much it meant to me. His kindness was so loud. So loving. So precious. I can't help but think how very much he became the hands and feet of Jesus to us that day. Don't get me wrong. I don't think in anyway that Santa is there representing Christ to the world in that mall, but to me on that day he in some small way did. I could imagine Jesus doing that very same thing as he watched my sweet Ashley so unaware of who He is sitting on the outside of the line that was there forming to meet with Him. I could see him reaching out his hand to touch hers, to brush his fingers across her pink little cheeks and then acknowledging what He already knew was special to her by patting that well loved dino on the back before patting her on top of her head.
I'm not crazy, guys. Really I'm not. I just have this image of Jesus in my mind loving on my sweet girl through the touch of that little old man who chose to put on that well known red suit this year. He didn't have to speak, to say a word, to explain his intentions. His eyes were there speaking the words instead and the message was loud and clear. That simple act meant more to me than the old man will ever know, but Christ knows. He does. He knows what it took to even get her home to be in that mall that morning and He knows if this will be her last Christmas or just one of many more. He knows so much more than I do about her life span and where we are headed.
As I sit here in our family room this morning with my sweet baby girl asleep in her room I'm thinking once again about that interaction between the two and I'm feeling so blessed to have witnessed such kindness toward her. The fire is crackling, the sounds of "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" play, and the candle's are filling the air with the smell of Christmas cookies. I don't have big plans for the day, just some laundry, bath room cleanings, and a little bit of gift wrapping. Its days like today, moments like the one I'm enjoying right now that mean more to me than anything. A day spent in our home, with our Ashley, at the holidays. I love my life. All the ups and downs. The pain and the joy. Its just so amazing to be her mommy. So amazing. I'm so grateful for today. I just thought I would share with you how "loud" this recent Christmas memory has been playing in my mind this morning. Hope you are just as blessed by it this season as I was. Take care my friends and Merry Christmas.