A mall Santa’s act of kindness towards a young six-year-old left a lasting impression with the boy and his family. When Landon visited the Santa at the RiverTown Crossings mall in Michigan, the boy’s family never could have imagined the caring wisdom that the jolly fellow would bestow upon the boy. The family posed for the customary Christmas photo and then Landon ran back with a question for Santa.
His mother, Naomi Johnson, told the Today show: “I had no idea why Landon turned around and then I saw Santa hold his hands to keep them from shaking and calm him down.”
She added: “Landon had gone back to tell Santa that he’s autistic and was worried about being put on the naughty list because of it.”
Landon had explained to Santa that he sometimes gets into trouble at school because classmates and teachers don’t understand that he’s autistic.
Landon asked nervously: “Will my autism put me on the naughty list?” Landon had been concerned that this condition would be interpreted as “naughty” to Santa and his elves at the North Pole and had a lot of worry about it, but Santa had the best answer.
He told Landon:“You know I love you and the reindeer love you and it’s OK. You’re a good boy. You’re a good boy, you know?”
Landon’s mom watched as Santa easily put his mind at ease and explained everything to Landon so perfectly in that autism doesn’t define who he is. Santa perfectly summed it up when he told the boy: “It’s OK to be you!”
The mall Santa then took five more minutes to talk with Landon about the holidays and his interests, answering his questions and giving him his undivided attention.
Naomi told WOOD-TV: “Here was Landon, sitting with Santa and being told that it was ok to be himself. Mommy tells him all the time that he’s special and I love him the way he was made, but it’s always nice to hear it from others.”
She also told the Today show: “This stranger in a red suit told my son the same message I’ve been trying to get through to him for a while now — that he’s special and I love him just the way he was made. Seeing Landon’s face light up in that moment was just incredible. I couldn’t stop crying.”
It turns out that Santa’s words of support boosted Landon’s confidence and Naomi was thrilled with the special encounter, sharing: “We have met a lot of amazing people in our Autism journey, but this one made the top of the list.”
When they returned home that day, Naomi explained that Landon said, “Mommy, it’s OK for me to be me. Santa said so.”
Naomi also took to the mall’s Facebook page to express how thrilled she was with this very special Santa, noting: “My child is a great advocate for himself, but this day was different. He opened up to this person about who he was and he was accepted.”