Santa In Tears After Encounter With Child
Eric Schmitt-Matzen is a professional Santa. His beard is real, he even wears Santa suspenders when he’s off-duty, and his velvet red jacket doesn’t need any stuffing. In fact, he says “there’s ‘just enough of a lap for the kids to sit on.” He was even born on December 6, Saint Nicolas’ birthday. You might think he’s seen it all, but one recent visit with a child left this Santa in tears and completely undone.
“I cried all the way home,” Eric said. “I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive.”
“My wife and I were scheduled to visit our grandchildren in Nashville the next day, but I told her to go by herself.”
“I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time. Actually, I thought I might crack up and never be able to play the part again.”
What caused this trained professional to completely melt into a puddle of tears?
Santa In Tears Story
“I’d just gotten home from work that day,” Eric, the 60-year-old mechanical engineer said.
“The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.
“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’”
“She’d bought a toy from PAW Patrol [Kids’ TV show] and wanted me to give it to him,” he said, his voice becoming shaky. “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.’ ”
“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!'”
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’”
“I said, ‘Sure!’”
“I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.”
‘“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.”
“Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.”
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of [stuff]. But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.”
“I’m just not cut out for this,” he admitted.
Santa Tries Again
But he summoned the strength to perform one more time as Santa Claus.
“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.”
WATCH: Santa In Tears Granting 5-Year-Old’s Dying Wish