oh thank god


Ed note: To anyone who wound up here by googling the words “Naked Santa” ~ First of all, why on God’s green earth would you be googling Naked Santa? Actually, please don’t answer that. Secondly, I can promise that this post is NOT what you’re looking for. Merry Christmas and best of luck!


Brooke and Santa, 2010

(In so many ways, my baby’s first Christmas)


“Brooke, honey,” I said as we walked through the Christmas park, I think Santa’s here. Would you like to go see him?”

“I would,” she answered, then abruptly stopped in her tracks.

“Where’s my list?” she asked, her voice tight with concern.

I explained that her list was at home, but that she needn’t worry as she could tell Santa what she’d like and I was sure that would be fine. She wasn’t convinced. Apparently, that wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

“We would go home and get it,” she said.

Considering that it had taken us well over an hour to get to the Christmas park, I had to tell her that running home and then coming back simply wasn’t an option.

After asking twelve (or twenty) more times and receiving the same answer, the reality finally set in and she seemed to find peace with seeing him list-less.

We timed it well. *My sister, Jess* and I (yes, my sister’s name is Jess, and no, I no longer feel the need to explain why) waited in line while Luau and Jess’s husband, Ryan took the girls on the very Christmasy (except not) spinning rocket ship ride. When I say that we timed it well, I obviously mean on two fronts – we eliminated the wait for the girls while simultaneously avoiding having to submit ourselves to the torture of space travel. My children learned early on that when it comes to rides, Mama’s a sport unless it spins. Rule #1, Mama. Does. Not. Spin. There are no exceptions to rule #1.

By the time the girls were off the ride and their poor little brains sufficiently scrambled, we were next in line. It was perfect – Brooke had just enough time to see how the process worked without growing antsy or agitated or screaming, crying or running for the hills – all of which were part of last year’s waiting in line for Santa fun.

I decided to let the girls see Santa separately. I figured the simpler we could make it the better. Brooke went first.

Santa held out an arm to her, and was miraculously patient when she didn’t come right away. He read her perfectly. He wasn’t loud or in her face. He acted as if he had all night. He never hurried her along, nor pushed her to sit down for the photo op. He simply waited.

She circled him warily, checking him out from different angles. She then drew back a few feet and stopped, facing him from a safe distance.

“Where are your lists?” she asked.

He looked a little confused. “What’s that, Dear?” he asked.

“Where are your lists?” she asked again.

“Santa,” I said, “I think she’s looking for the lists that you check this time of year. The naughty list, the nice list, you know.”

“Ah, my lists!” he said, “Of course! Well, these days it’s all automated. See, it’s all right here in my palm pilot.”

He pointed at his palm, I suppose waiting for her to laugh. Neither knowing what a palm pilot was nor understanding the pun even if she had, she didn’t. But he recovered quickly.

“I keep the lists out in the sleigh, little one. I sure hope the reindeer don’t eat them!”

Her eyes grew wide. “The reindeer?” She looked around as if she might see the sleigh, then came up with another idea.

She pointed at him and said, “You say Ho! Ho! Ho!”

“I love to do that,” he said. He gave it his best shot and held his wide belly as he laughed. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

This kid was making him work for it.

“Brooke,” he asked, “would you like to tell me what you want for Christmas?”

She stood stock still for a long moment, staring into the middle distance, conjuring her answer. Santa waited silently. The man had the patience of Job.

“A naked Santa,” she said.

The world grew eerily quiet. I could hear nothing but the ringing in my ears. I took stock of my options. I could yell “Fire!” and grab my kid and run. I could chuckle and give the big guy an elbow to the ribs saying, “Bet you haven’t heard that one before, eh, Santa?” Or I could take the coward’s way out, pretend I hadn’t heard her and pray that he would do the same.

I don’t need to tell you that I chose door number three. Thank God Santa either played along, didn’t actually hear her or heard her but assumed he must have mis-heard her. I’m guessing the latter. Either way, he took it in stride. She did not ask for anything else.

Mrs Claus then asked if she’d like to sit with Santa for a picture. She very gently told her that she could sit on his lap, stand next to him or sit on the bench in front of him. There was no doubt that Brooke would choose the bench. She made her way to it and sat down in front of Santa. When Mrs Claus came over to scoot her back on the bench, I waited for all hell to break loose. It didn’t. I watched in awe of my girl. God, how far she’s come.

Brooke sat beautifully. Mrs Claus told her that Santa was going to lean over her and ever so slowly, he did. When he gently took her hands and put them over his, she let him. Three years ago? Two years ago? Last year? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. But there she was, sitting in front of the same Santa she wouldn’t go near last year, doing her darndest to smile for the camera. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

As we walked away clutching our photo, I thought, “Holy heck, my girl just TALKED to Santa! She SAT with him! She asked him questions! She made him say, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” She GOT it! She really, truly GOT it! All of it. She even asked him for a gift! I .. OK, wait – insert record scratching noise here – What the heck was up with the naked Santa?

You all have seen *her list*. There’s plenty on it – the Godpsell dolls, the Little Einsteins, the plush dolls from Dora, the American Girl Doll, the blocks, the teddy bear – the cat for heaven’s sake. Never has there been any mention of a flippin’ naked Santa. I wondered if I should panic. Or call the authorities. Or wonder what goes on at school.

“Brooke, honey,” I asked, “Did you ask Santa for a nudie Santa?”

“I did,” she said.

“Um, honey,” I began warily, “is that something you saw somewhere?”

“It is,” she answered obligingly.

“Where did you see it, baby?” I asked.

“At [the neighborhood toy store],” she answered.

I began to scan the shelves in my mind. Naked Santa, naked Santa … I was coming up dry until  … Wait! I got it!

“Honey, was it the wooden Santa dress up doll? Is that what you saw there?”

“It was.”

“Is that what you meant by the naked Santa, honey?”

“It was.”

Oh thank God.

My baby talked to Santa. And yes, he’s going to be sure to get her the one thing she asked for.

64 thoughts on “oh thank god

  1. What a great story! Brooke did awesome- and gave us all a good laugh! At the school where I work, we do a Santa event so that our kiddos and their families do not have to brave the lines and crowds at the mall, and then have a chance to sit with a Santa who would understand their challenges. Maybe I should call that Santa and see if he would like to help next year. Kudos to Santa!

  2. The nerve wracking, supposed to be wonderful, visit to Santa….I am so glad Brooke came through it all ok and you understood the “Naked Santa.” I loved the photo. I think you have to be very special to be Santa. I am sure they encounter all kinds of kids!! God bless them all.
    I have photos through the years of those Santa visits and I have them on display in the house. My 25 yr. old J loves to look at them even though during those visits it could be a little rough. How happy you all must have been with Brooke and you got a laugh along the way…Merry Merry!!

    • i LOVE that he likes to look at them now. that says so much that he remembers the moments fondly, even though there was struggle in them 🙂

  3. Conor asked me what a Christmas miracle is and now I can tell him this little story, minus the Naked Santa part….YAY Brooke! Nice job strategic planning and all, been there, seen it, done it. WTG DOAM clan, even Darryl and her hub too!

  4. This is one great Christmas miracle, Jess! Remember the Santa in our local little bank that we still are both swearing was the real Santa? Sometimes, life is extra good to us.

    Love you,

    • um, i also remember figuring it out and you telling me that i should still tell him what i wanted because he was one of santa’s helpers. lol

  5. What a totally awesome day! So many kiddos, neurotypical and typically developing, are terrified of the big guy – I’m so glad Brooke embraced him this year (literally and metaphorically – though glad the literal embrace was with clothes on!)

    I adore reading about all Brooke’s strides – it gives me such, such great hope for the Ollie-man.

  6. OMG I am literally crying from laughing so hard Jess. That was expertly written. Mall Santa story perfection!!!!! And yes – it is a wonderful thing how far she has come, it is AWESOME, but that post? I am heading back for a re-read 🙂 You are masterful.

  7. What I love best? Sure, the story, the accomplishment…it’s all awesome. But the thing which touches my heart the most is that YOU weren’t willing to simply shrug it off. You helped her communicate to you what she wants from Santa and you will make it happen. YOU will keep the magic alive for her. So much love, so little you wouldn’t do for your girls. THAT moves me to tears. xo

  8. hilarious and wonderful!

    brooke’s hair is getting so long.

    that santa was great, but i know an even better one – her dad. 😉

  9. What a fantastic Santa experience! Congrats to everyone involved. I’m sure Brooke is very proud of herself, as she should be!

    • i hope she is. pride is sometimes a tough one to be sure of, but i really do hope she knows how incredibly far she’s come. heaven knows i sure told her that night! 🙂

  10. Great post! Glad that Brooke enjoyed her time with Santa. Funny story too. Sometimes, only moms can interpret what in the world they are thinking…find that to be true with my two sons.
    Also, wanted to let you know that there is a company out there called Spoonflower.


    You can send them your child’s original drawings and they can turn it into fabric for you. Thought of Brooke’s drawings of the Godspell cast in your one blog photo and thought that it might be fun to have Spoonflower turn her work into fabric…you could then easily make the entire cast to look exactly as she envisions them to look as little cloth dolls…or else, it would be cute as a pillow cover or blanket, too.
    I am thinking of taking some of my sons’ artwork and doing this too, to make their drawings into fabric and then, to make some pillows, etc. with it…you just need to buy a swatch to have enough for a tiny pillow.

    Well, have a happy day today.
    Hope that you will pop by my blog. I did a huge post listing all kinds of discounts, freebies, and giveaways…some of the things I have listed might be something that you would like for your girls.

    🙂 Colleen

  11. That picture & the description makes me CRY with all the wonderful times that we see miracles unfolding right in front of us. Right in front of us. So happy for you and happy you got a picture of it 🙂

  12. My girl innocently flips off the camera while sitting on Santa’s knee, yours asks for a naked Santa — I think this year’s Santas are going to have some fine stories to dine out on!

    What a wonderful story, and how very far Brooke has come!

  13. WOW. I cannot believe you were able to figure out what it was! I mean, all parents have to interpret their kids on some level, but this takes the cake. Bravo to you! And quite frankly, what on earth possessed M&D to make that toy in the first place? I’m off to google “naked santa” now and see if google thinks the way Brooke does…

  14. Can we just have a moment about the fact that you actually MADE THAT CONNECTION? I would never have retained that! So glad your experience was wonderful this year. We had our “good one” last year, this year not so much, but at least it was hilarious. So proud of Brooke for the many subtle ways she showed how much progress she’s made!

  15. so love this post. not only did your precious girl talk to Santa, sit with Santa and tell him what she wanted, she has also given me the perfect way to help my family understand how my little guys thinks. This Christmas, this post will be printed for family members along with Welcome to Holland, 10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes you Knew and an assortment of other blogs/essays/articles. Thank you, Brooke.

    • please hold onto the hope. it’s not misplaced. it took us seven and a half years to get here, but we’re here with a flourish. your girl will be too. hope. yes.

      • Yep, it’s stories about things like Brooke’s finally talking to Santa and so much more that make it easier for me to let go of the gotta-happen-NOW expectations and let me wait for my son to show me when he’s ready. Probably no accident that we’ve tried to see Santa twice this year (two different places) and he’s been gone by the time we showed up. Isn’t it Carrie who always says “No accidents?”

  16. Wow is all I can say. It is amazing when things click. Enjoy your 1st Christmas with Brooke. Stories like these give hope to all going through the same thing. Thanks for sharing.

  17. My daughter is also 7 and has PDD (hearing stories about your Brooke feels like you are writing about my daughter instead, they are almost like autism twins!) and visited Santa this past weekend. She would not sit near him but sat on the floor in front of him and actually smiled for the camara. Next year I wont to try to organize a Sensitive Santa in my area to make it easier for all the kids that have ASD.

  18. I am so glad you figured this out and it was what it was. Whew, man she made the both of you work for that one. Lol. Go Brooke, you rock!!!
    As a mom of an autistic for year old boy, I am dreading those days to come… but also looking foreward to them in a way. When he does these things for the first time… I beam with pride and excitement for his accomplishments. Cudos to mom for being brave enough to do this as well… have a Merry Christmas.

  19. What a wonderful story to read, as a mother with two Autistic boys 16 and 8 I’ve had my share of moments when I’ve had to quickly think why they’ve said what they said. You were amazing in your quick thinking. Koodos to both you and Santa.
    My best to your whole family. May your Christmas be blessed. Andrea ” mother of 7 “

  20. Pingback: weekend pickthrough- put your sorries in a sack edition. « broke 207

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