When a Tennessee mom took her son to see Santa on Dec. 2, things didn’t necessarily go exactly as planned.
Alison Epps’ son, James, a 6-year-old who has special needs, was overwhelmed when it came time to sit on Santa’s lap, so he ended up crouching under a nearby Christmas tree in an attempt to avoid the encounter, ABC News reported.
And that’s when Santa — rather than remaining on his throne and merely watching it all unfold — decided to take action, getting on the ground with James in an effort to talk to the little boy and put him at ease.
“Santa got right down on the floor to see if he could make James more comfortable,” Epps told ABC, with event photographer Jennider Arnwine saying that Santa started talking to James about reindeer and other subjects in an effort to make him more comfortable.
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That effort apparently paid off, helping encourage the little boy and giving Arnwine an opening to capture a few photos of James and Santa together — pictures that have been spreading some cheer this week.
Perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that this particular Santa was more than willing to accommodate James, considering the event he was at — one that is titled, “Santa’s Special Visit” — is held annually at Restoration Community Church in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and is specifically for kids who have special needs and who get overwhelmed by Santa.
There are no lines, and there’s a quiet room for kids and families who need it.
“The heart behind this day is to provide families with Special Needs children an opportunity to have a calm environment in which to meet Santa,” reads a description of the church event. “A digital picture will be emailed to the family from the event. Crafts will also be available for the the family to do while waiting.”
It’s actually a much-needed service for these families, considering the constraints that long lines and mall chaos often create for families of kids with special needs.
But beyond the obvious inspirational nature of the event, the photos of James and Santa have also yielded a surprise response from many people who have been positively impacted by the simple encounter, Epps told WKRN-TV.
“They seem to have brought a lot of joy to a lot of people,” she said of the images.”It was wonderful to have such a positive experience with our son and make Christmas memories we will always treasure.”
Epps also said she’s overjoyed by how her son is shown in the photos, as they capture “exactly who James is right now.” See more of the images here.
(H/T: ABC News)
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