US Today, Washington Post and many others shared a story that will bring you to tears. Watch this. I always try to look for the good in every sad story. The joy, peace and calmness Santa gave this young boy in his last few minutes will always be remembered by so many and especially his mom.
Sunday night we hosted an AUsome Moms event at a local indoor park. The park was closing to the public and was staying open for us to host our holiday party for the moms and families that have children on the autism spectrum. As the children were all leaving, we were unpacking the decorations to get set up and the Santa we hired for the photography showed up at the same time. At that very moment in time, while I watched all these children’s faces light up and wanting to speak to him, the holiday spirit rushed over me for the season. Brought me such joy.
I won’t lie, I was thinking to myself, I wonder how Cody will do this year? I wonder if we will be as frighten as last year or even the year before at the fire house? Last year, I thought for sure would be a WIN for our Santa visit because I was able to set an appointment with the Santa Cares Program. This is a program designed for special needs where they give you an appointment time to arrive so there are no lines and they do this before the mall opens so you can avoid the holiday hustle. They even gave us complimentary tickets to the aquarium afterwards to enjoy before the mall opened. We set out as a family that Saturday morning to all go and of course I had the family coordinated in outfits in case a photo opportunity arose but it was just too much. The sensory overload was overwhelming for Cody Rivers and was very tough on our entire family. Once we got him calmed down we attempted the aquarium and that too did not go over well. I don’t give up that easy and gave some words of encouragement and quickly reminded the boys, we will try again next year.
Back to the past Sunday, The AUsome Moms Board of Directors and our Teen/ Young Adult Coordinator and Photographer finished setting up and we were ready to open the doors for our big event! You see, this organization is devoted to supporting local moms in our community and making a positive impact in their lives and the lives of their children. So over time, we have not only extended our family, we have also learned from each other but we have also supported each other.
As the people starting pouring in, families were providing treats and drinks for the event and Santa was set up and ready to listen to everyone wishes. About an hour in, I decided it was time for us to go see Santa. I could feel the anxiety that Cameron and Brad were thinking but told them, let’s try, as a family Worst case, if you guys can leave early and I will catch a ride home after we clean up. We had been showing Cody photos of Santa and the jolly ole soul was pretty much all over our home in the decorations too!
When it was out turn to meet Santa, I looked at Brad and asked him to grab a snack. I gave a quick disclaimer to our photographer so she quickly positioned us so we could all be in the photo. And in case you are wondering, I did not coordinate matching clothing this year! I guess I feared if I put too much effort into the planning, I may would have been discouraged again. Brad distracted Cody while we were getting positioned around Santa and held up a pretzel paired with the vocal and Cody replied, “Pet-zal.” This seemed to keep him calm. Then suddenly, Cody looked over his left shoulder and there he was sitting next to Santa! He did not care for it much BUT there were no tears and no screaming so as far as I am concerned, this was a WIN! He just kept looking at him to see if he was still there and for the first time he actually sat next to him; on my lap of course but much better than the past years.
The next day, I sent the photos to Brad and Cameron with such delight knowing Cody had made another great stride! So, all I want for Christmas this year is small forward steps, forget the 2 front teeth! What a fun evening with our AUsome extended family and my boys!
The series at church this month is about the the best gifts come in unexpected packages. Unwrap was those look like for you.
The Neustupa Family – 2016
(if you look closely you can see the pretzel he is eating.)