Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

I know that a lot of people these days have grown cynical about the world. They say there’s no good news out there. People are in it only for themselves and the sky is filled with gray clouds and acid rain. Bah humbug!

You might call me an eternal optimist, but despite it all, I remain hopeful about the world and all the people in it. I am convinced that there are more good people than bad out there and that little miracles are occurring daily.

Just the other day, in fact, I heard about the most marvelous thing. It made me smile so hard I thought my face might break. It involved elves and airplanes and really sick kids. Oh, and Santa, too. It was the kind of story that touches your heart, no matter who you are, and makes you feel proud and happy to be alive.

Since everyone likes to have a little brightness color their day, I thought I’d share it with you, too.

So here’s what happened — my daughter called to tell me about something that was going on at the place where she has been interning for the past few months. This facility, The Children’s Inn, houses very sick children from all over the world who are participating in clinical trials at the National Institute of Health. Some stay for only a day or two, others are there for years.

Throughout her internship, she has shared with me many of the stories that sum up the day-to-day challenges facing these children and their families. Working at The Inn has certainly opened her eyes about how difficult the lives of so many are and has made her appreciate her own health in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before.

Both of us have wondered at the amazing amounts of courage and perseverance that many of these young people (and their parents and siblings) possess and how they use those qualities to get through difficult and often painful procedures and treatments. Whenever one of them reaches an important milestone in their treatment or gets a positive report from their docs, it’s a day worth celebrating for everyone connected to them. And they do. But still, there are so many days that are just plain hard.

So the news she had to share with me that day couldn’t have been better. She told me that the employees at United Airlines were hard at work creating some magic to help make the holidays brighter for these and other kids who are away from home and struggling with serious illnesses.

What they do is put out the word to several hospitals and organizations including Believe In Tomorrow, Special Love and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that they are taking reservations for a flight to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. Kids sign up and when the magic day arrives they head out to Dulles Airport with mom or dad and sometimes a sibling or two. They enter the airport and check the boards for the gate number for the flight to the North Pole.

The children and their families board the plane and off they go.  After flying around for awhile, the plane lands at a different terminal and as the children get off they find that they have indeed arrived at Santa’s Workshop. The terminal is decorated to look just like the North Pole. Elves, magicians, Washington D.C. sports mascots, choirs and, of course, Santa himself greet and entertain these kids in a way that only they can.

The children have a ball and leave laden with goodies and presents. Everyone involved goes away feeling uplifted by the fun and magic. United has been doing this for years and has touched many lives and brightened the season for many families.

It’s wonderful to know that even when things are bleak there are many people out there working to bring love and light into the lives of those who are struggling. The silver lining does exist, even when it seems very thin. Look for it!

Enjoy the season mamas, and don’t forget to share all the love in your hearts with everyone in your life.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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One response to “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus”

  1. Ann

    One of my student’s sisters have serious issues, and their family has been blessed by the Inn….and the Santa program! Is there a way to contribute to the Inn?

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