Santa Claus is one of the most iconic parts of Christmas for children.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen is a professionally-trained Santa who looks every bit of the part. He has a jolly belly and a long white beard, and he was even born on Saint Nicholas Day. Schmitt-Matzen works as Santa Claus more than 80 times each Christmas season, and he always wears his Santa suspenders.
Of all the memories he has as Santa, though, one will stick out forever as one of the most heartbreaking things he’s ever done.
When Schmitt-Matzen got home from his day job as a mechanical engineer one day, he received a call from a nurse at the hospital saying a very sick five-year-old boy wanted to see Santa.
He didn’t even have time to change into his Santa suit before rushing to the hospital.
He showed up in the ICU 15 minutes later, and the boy’s mother asked him to give her little guy a toy. Santa had strict rules for the family members, though.
“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,'” he said.
He mustered up all the jolly spirit he could and visited the boy, telling him he was his “number-one elf.” He was so happy to get his present, even though he was so weak he could barely open it.
That’s when the boy asked Santa a question.
‘“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 said, ‘They will?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“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.'”
“I cried all the way home,” Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive.”
He was even ready to give up being Santa Claus, thinking he just wasn’t cut out for the job.
He still went to one more gig, though, and he eventually came around to realize it was important to continue playing the role.
“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play. For them and for me.”
You can read the full heartbreaking interview with Eric Schmitt-Matzen here. It’s his huge heart that makes him the perfect Santa Claus. If this story moved you, please share it with others.
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