The Christmas season is finally here. We are all are inevitably going to become swallowed up by the season over the next couple of weeks and rightly so for the Christmas season certainly is magical. Everyone has their own special Christmas memories but Eric Schmitt-Matzen has one that will touch you to the point of tears.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen is a part-time professional Santa Claus. He is one of those guys who you take a picture of with your kids every year. His beard and mustache are completely real and he truly fits the part, it’s almost like he was made to be Santa. Recently, Schmitt-Matzen shared a story of his most memorable encounter as Santa Claus. It is a story of how he visited a terminally ill child in the hospital. Grab a box of tissues because this one will really touch you.
I’d just gotten home from work that day. The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.
told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’
(His mother had) bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’
When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!
He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
I said, ‘Sure!’ I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down. ‘They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’
I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’
He said, ‘Sure!’
‘When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.’
He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’
I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him. Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.
I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.”
While the story itself is devastatingly sad, it is a wonderful example of the true spirit of Christmas. Eric Schmitt-Matzen gave up his evening to help fulfill a dying child’s Christmas wish and in doing so was able to help that child pass in peace. Hopefully this year we can all hold our kids a little tighter and count our blessings. This year for Christmas, lets all make sure there’s a second helping of LOVE for everybody.