Special needs

Holiday milestones: Meeting Santa for the first time

Anchel Krishna talks about Syona's first picture with Santa, and why it took four years to meet him.

Photo: Anchel Krishna

Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

Last year, around this time, I shared that our family had a Santa Claus curse. Well, this year, we reached yet another milestone: Syona met Santa for the first time (and it only took four years).

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We still weren’t able to get out to a mall and take the typical pictures with Santa. Instead, we got the VIP Santa treatment at Syona’s school’s holiday party. The event was an open house that allowed all the students and families to come together to celebrate (there are two classrooms of kids and they offer morning and afternoon programming).

It was a busy event with a number of different art and craft stations set up, and a table of tasty treats for both the parents and kiddos. In addition, it was a great chance for me to meet some of the other kids and parents Syona goes to school with. I don’t often do drop offs or pick ups because of my work schedule, and special events like this allow me to meet Syona’s new friends and their families. It was wonderful.

With a promised appearance from the big guy in red and Mrs. Claus on the agenda, Syona and I spent the week practicing what Santa says. Instead of “ho ho ho” Syona explained to me that Santa actually says “ho ho HA” or sometimes just “ha ha ha,” followed by a hearty “Merry Christmas” (though her version sounded more like “Merry Keemaaa”).

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What we didn’t know was that Santa would be giving every single one of the kids at the party a gift. What a lovely surprise (I always thought he saved that kind of stuff for delivery for Dec. 25th).

It was an incredibly diverse event — families with children of all abilities, from many different cultural and religious backgrounds, all came together to celebrate a holiday season that hopefully gives most of us an opportunity to spend time with those we love best.

Syona did great with Santa. There were no tears, no feeling strange. She even made her school staff laugh with how she posed for the camera.

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It was only as we were leaving the event that Syona’s school staff shared that a family had donated the entire party, so that all the kids could celebrate and they could see everyone having fun. The generous donor wanted to remain low-key about it all. When they shared this fact it all made sense. Syona’s nursery school feels like a family; the staff work tirelessly with the kids, finding ways to adapt all activities so kids of all abilities can participate. They facilitate friendships between the kids. And most importantly, they just care. And it shows. Syona has made huge gains since starting the program. She looks forward to school and we know they are making it such a positive experience as we look ahead to starting junior kindergarten next year.

Syona’s first Santa experience is one we will never forget, as she was surrounded by so much love, familiarity and good will. That’s what I call the spirit of the holidays.

From our family to all of you, wishing you a merry and bright holiday.

Do you do annual Santa visits? How do your kids like Santa?