Santa, baby, slip off your cookie-filled gloves, for me…

12/28
2011

Every year we swear we are going to see Santa early, beat the crowds.  Every year we see Santa on December 23 or 24 and every year, we wait and wait.  The line was overflowing with red bows and little boys in over-sized sport coats.  It was filled with children bursting with excitement and adults eager for the line to move.  The parents flung out ipads, smart phones, coloring books and of course, food, to keep the little ones occupied as the line crawled at a snail’s pace.  As we waited, we talked about what each of the kids wanted to ask for from Santa: a drum set for Sal, a spiderman web shooter for Milo, a peek-a-boo baby for Lucy but when it was Gino’s turn, he couldn’t contain his laughter.  When he caught his breath, he told us he was going to kiss Santa on the lips before he asked him for a pottery wheel.  For many obvious reasons, we recommended against a lip-to-lip kiss (every time the boys see people kiss lip-to-lip, the giggling kicks in) so then everyone agreed to just shake Santa’s hand.

The line started to make a turn and we got within the sight line of the white bearded man.  The kids’ energy levels bumped up and they watched every move he was making.  And so was I.  I mean, he is Santa, after all.  The boy in line directly in front of us sat on Santa’s lap.  He was beaming.   He was talking to Santa and I saw Santa nod yes.  Great, he’s going to get what he wants and now he should pop off Santa’s lap so I can get my brood on and out.  Instead, however, I realized that what Santa agreed to was sharing chocolate chip cookies with this boy.   This had to be a joke.  The child right before us has to be the one to ask for a cookie date with Santa?

As Santa eats, not one, but three cookies, his stark white gloves became tainted with milk chocolate smudges and his significant white beard was catching every crumb that didn’t stick in his mouth.  And as he shared this very sweet moment with that little boy, I began to feel nervous.  Should I say something?  What if he thought Lucy was really cute and grabbed her cheeks with those now milk-filled gloves?  What if Gino went in for that kiss thinking he could get a laugh out of his brothers?  I felt like I couldn’t judge the risk quickly enough, we were almost up.  I leaned over to the girl in charge and I said to her, “Um, hi.  I know this may seem like a strange request to you but my children have life-threatening food allergies to wheat, egg and milk and Santa just ate those cookies and…”  She interrupted me.  Oh no, I thought, I asked the wrong person and I thought for sure she and Santa were going to be annoyed with me.  Instead, it was quite the contrary, she got it.  She told me that she has peanut allergy and that she was going to fix this.  Now I was the one who wanted to kiss someone on the lips!

She walked over to Santa and he nodded.  He took off his gloves and rinsed his hands with water from a little water bottle he had next to his giant chair. He looked over at me and winked as he beckoned us toward him.  I thanked him as we approached and he just couldn’t have been more considerate.  He took a lot of time with us and asked me who had the food allergies.  He was careful but loving and inclusive.  The boys shook his bare hand and asked Santa for the gifts that they wanted the most.  Maybe the risk was low, I don’t know, I just know that this Santa without gloves felt a lot less risky.  The kids got their picture taken with Santa and they each picked out a stuffed bear or penguin.  They were delighted and I was relieved.  Relieved to finally be out of the line, relieved that no one was angry with me for trying to keep my children safe the only way I know how and relieved that Santa losing his traditional white gloves didn’t take away any of his mystery.

As the kids walked away, I stayed back to thank Santa for his kindness and care.  We spoke about food allergies and he told me about a little girl earlier in the day who was very ill but was so happy when she got to sit with him.  He told me that it can be pretty emotional being Santa some days.  I looked at him intently as we spoke, he drew me in. His moustache and beard were full and real and gleaming white.  His belly moved as he spoke.  His blue eyes were twinkling and abundant with compassion.  And for a few moments, I thought, just maybe, he really was Santa.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday.  Please remember to share this blog with your friends.  The more we can educate, the better!  And if you haven’t joined for updates, please do.  (Right side of site.)  Thank you all for reading!

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52 Responses to Santa, baby, slip off your cookie-filled gloves, for me…

  1. Kim says:

    This is the best post yet. I’m new to this world, and have found some people to be less than understanding. Glad to know Santa’s magic works in all sorts of ways. Love your blog!

    • Sarah says:

      Kim,
      Thank you so much! Santa’s magic sure worked that night… Keep sharing the blog if you can. I just think that the more people who understand and hear about the real lives of food-allergic families, the more understanding will happen. I hope.
      Sarah

  2. Dallas says:

    I guess this makes me a food allergy mom dork, but I couldn’t help tearing up. Thanks.

    • Sarah says:

      Dallas,
      Thank you so much for reading. Well, I don’t know if it makes you a dork ;) but I know exactly what you mean! I really appreciate your comment. Thank you.
      Sarah

  3. Gina says:

    Thanks for sharing and being an amazing advocate and role model for food allergy moms out there

    • Sarah says:

      Gina,
      I really appreciate you taking the time to read this post! And thank you so much for your kind words. It really means so much to me.
      Sarah

  4. Chris says:

    Happy holly-daze to you, wonderful, protective, always-alert Mama! So where did you see Santa this year? Cuz I think you did indeed meet the real deal…

  5. Eleanor says:

    Sarah, this is a great post! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m thrilled it turned out to be a positive outcome for all of you! Keep up the great work! Happy Holidays to you & yours!

    Eleanor

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you, Eleanor! The girl who has the peanut allergy who was in charge of the line was so unbelievable. She really made it all possible. I gave her my card with this web address so I hope she reads this post and realizes how much she changed the course of our night.
    I’d love to see you soon!
    Sarah

  7. I do believe in Santa :*)

    This post made me teary eyed. I know in the past we’ve told Santa that our son was allergic to milk, that we hope he liked the soymilk (or whatever) we left out for him.

    God bless Santa–and I’m glad your kids had a marvelous time!!

    • Sarah says:

      Headacheslayer,
      Santa loves rice drink at my house too! It couldn’t have worked out any better, what a blessing. Happy New Year!
      Sarah

  8. Dina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sitting here crying like a baby. Hearing others stories make me feel not so alone in this battle and it’s also so nice to hear a positive response from understanding people.

    • Sarah says:

      Dina,
      You are not alone! We all need to support each other and I hope this website gives us a forum to do just that. I was so happy to have such a kind response. What a treat!! Thank you so much for continuing to read. Happy New Year!
      Sarah

  9. Shannon says:

    I was holding my breath while reading this post, and exhaled when the girl “got it!” What a gift for you all that night. When experiences like this happen in our lives, it raises my spirit for days. Acceptance and help are such cherished moments. Thanks for the post!
    Shannon

    • Sarah says:

      Shannon,
      I was so relieved that I didn’t have to go to that dark and anxious place. When she stood up and did exactly what I would’ve wanted without me asking… It was the best gift I could have gotten. She is our Christmas angel. You are so right, empathy and kindness go a very long way…
      Happy New Year!
      Sarah

  10. John Conversa says:

    Sarah -
    Great story! I think you handled the situation very well and the Jolly Old Elf did as well! Good for you and your children that they got to experience that Christmas magic. Hope you all have a very Happy New Year with more great stories like this one! Please call me when the stockings get low on candy…….

    • Sarah says:

      John,
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means so much to me! We totally lucked out that night, thankfully. The stockings are still pretty good but soon :) Thanks again, John. Happy New Year to you and your family!
      Sarah

      • Carolyn Conversa says:

        Sarah-

        I, too, got teary-eyed. I am John’s wife, Carolyn, and as you know, I am a fellow allergy-mom. What a great story! We are so fortunate that our daughter (who has all the allergies), has such wonderful friends and parents of her friends that are always looking out for her best interest.

        Happy New Year! I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future!

        Carolyn

        • Sarah says:

          Hi Carolyn,
          I am so happy that you got the chance to read the post and that you enjoyed it! You can’t find a bigger blessing than having friends who care for your child as if they were their own. When the parents set that sort of shining example, their children’s kindness follows.
          Happy New Year to you and your family too!
          Thanks so much for reading!!
          Sarah

  11. Laura says:

    Great post Sarah! Really enjoyed it and have to admit I got a little emotional.

    See you soon,

    Laura

  12. Tricia says:

    Great story! Thank you for sharing it. We’ve been there, done that many times when you are suddenly confronted with an unexpected potential allergy problem and you have to act quickly with either a confront or run decision. I happy it turned out so well.

    • Sarah says:

      Tricia,
      And plenty of times for us, it doesn’t turn out this well so it was truly a blessing! Before I started to tell her about the food allergies, I just had that terrible sinking feeling… like this could totally backfire. So thrilled when it didn’t! Thank you for reading and commenting. I really love hearing from all of you!
      Sarah

  13. Denise Bissonnette says:

    Wow, what a post! Really touching, beautifully written, great photos – the tears just keep rollin’ down my cheeks! If that’s not what Christmas is all about, I want to know what is! Happy Holiday to you and yours, Sarah, and I hope that 2012 brings wider and wider readership to your wonderful blog, greater understanding about food allergies, and the world even a little less risky for all the families coping with the daily challenges!

    many blessings – and a virtual kiss on the lips!

    Denise

    • Sarah says:

      Denise!
      Thank you. I don’t know what to say. Your words mean so very much to me. Now who has tears rolling down her cheeks…
      I hope that your New Year is equally blessed. You deserve amazing things!!
      Kisses back to you!
      Sarah

  14. Eileen Cahill says:

    Thanks for your most interesting website! This was an incredibly enlightening article. I am a teacher and lately have had more and more allergy students. This gives great insite to the problem and the awareness needed for these children to survive in a world that should know more about how to handle children with allergies. Keep up the good work and bless you for keeping us aware!

    • Sarah says:

      Eileen,
      Thank you very much for taking the time for read this post. Having to work so closely with my children’s teachers, I understand the incredible responsibility placed on you. Your willingness to learn and understand this disease is amazing and the parents of children with food allergies in your class (and the students, of course) are very lucky. Thank you so much for commenting and please feel free to share this blog with other teacher’s and administration at your school and others. Education = empathy :)
      Happy New Year!
      Sarah

  15. Jane Anne says:

    This post made me cry. Seems like a Christmas miracle… So many people just don’t get it. Beautiful story- hope you had a merry Christmas!

    • Sarah says:

      Jane Anne,
      We did have a wonderful Christmas. I hope you and your family did as well. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with me. It means so much. Happy New Year!!
      Sarah

  16. Minnie says:

    This made me cry!! My niece that is like my own child has an anaphylactic allergy to milk protein. We work do hard for her to be include and feel normal. So many people, as you well know, just don’t get it at all and many don’t care to understand. The efforts taken by the worker and Santa in this story were so wonderful and shows something special about the heart of each of these two people. How wonderful! May God bring both of them many blessings in the years ahead!! Thanks for sharing this story!

    • Sarah says:

      Minnie,
      Thank you for reading! It is through the kindness of others that our Santa visit turned out to be so fun (and safe)! I couldn’t agree with you more that these two should be extra blessed! Happy New Year!
      Sarah

  17. Mom & Dad says:

    Oh Sarah… When we got to the front of the line and we saw those cookies and those gloves I will never forget how our eyes met. Saying a thousand words in just a few seconds. Your eyes said to me, “Mom, what do I do?”, “What am I going to do?”, “There has to be an answer.”, “What is the answer?”, “We can’t turn back now.”, “I am the mom…I will make this work.” And I hope that my eyes said back to you “I believe that you will make this work out.”, “It will be ok.” Inside I was afraid. I didn’t want our little ones disappointed because of what seems so benign to others – cookie crumbs. But, for us it is something that could send us into a roaring panic. Why now? But, the blessing is that we did get to experience a Christmas miracle! Our little elf worked her miracle along with Santa. We didn’t just wait in line for over an hour…hop on Santa’s lap…grab a toy and be glad that we made it through without our kids melting down. Instead, as we left Santa there was a certain amount of elation in the air. We were ready to celebrate this beautiful holiday with thankfulness and joy. I love you. I am very proud of you. Momma

    • Sarah says:

      Momma,
      If I didn’t have you to look at in my many, many moments of panic, I have no idea where I would be. You give me the strength and the courage to do whatever it takes to keep the kids as safe as possible. You have shown me how to love without limits. How can I ever thank you enough for that?
      Sarah

  18. Diana says:

    That is awesome. So great that they got it and that you had a great experience. Santa is the best!

  19. Deidra says:

    What a beautiful post. I am a 33 y/o Mom with multiple food allergies, just diagnosed this year. Allergic to all of the top ten except for milk. My 3 year old daughter has no food allergies. It can be really difficult to develop these allergies later in life as friends and family don’t understand the danger in exposing her to nuts and peanuts or seafood, cinnamon, or soy because she isn’t the one with the food allergies. While I hate to deprive her of foods that I absolutely love but can no longer enjoy, I’ve had more than enough close calls from cross contamination to take any more chances. My baby’s sweet kisses and hugs have caused mild to moderate episodes of anaphylaxis which are terrifying and frustrating for me and traumatizing and confusing for her. She now asks, “Mommy can I hug you?” “Mommy, can I kiss you?” before she’ll come near me, and it makes me a little sad. Your story is so sweet and encouraging. Being a multiple allergy family can make you feel so isolated and I can only imagine how their response must have warmed your heart. Good luck with your babies and Happy Holidays! :-)

    • Sarah says:

      Deidra,
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Having multiple food allergies is definitely an extra challenge and can be a pretty lonely road. I am so happy that we found each other! I hope you keep reading and sharing this blog. Happiest of New Years to you!
      Sarah

  20. Nadine Cook says:

    A wonderful story…well written and informative. Knowing you and your family made me read it several times and each time it just got better. I admire you for all of your accomplishments for a very worthy cause. Keep up the good work. With love, Nadine

    • Sarah says:

      Nadine,
      It means so much to me that you took the time to read this post…and then read it some more! Thank you for all of your support. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. Xoxo
      Sarah

  21. Tracy Bush says:

    It’s awesome to see that this was not only taken care of but without hesitation! Santa (and his helpers) are great!

  22. Michelle says:

    This is such a nice story. One of the multiple Santas we visited this year responded to my request of NOT giving my children candy canes with a completely loud and ignorant “It must be so SAD to be allergic to CANDY!” to which I had to quickly cover up with super human allergy mom wit in front of my two wide eyed and confused young children. Next year we will stick to one visit with a carefully chosen Santa! I think some of these fellows don’t always understand exactly how important that role is to play!

    • Sarah says:

      Michelle,
      My stomach sunk when I read what the Santa said. So often adults will say things to me in front of my children about how unlucky they are to have food allergy… Sometimes I feel the need to nicely remind them that the kids can actually hear them :) Happy New Year!!
      Sarah

  23. Sharon says:

    Hi! I came across this blog post because it was linked from my pediatrician’s facebook page. As a mom of two young boys who both have food allergies, your story hit home and brought tears down my face as well … could you have guessed what a touching impact your post would have on so many people? What a magical Christmas story!

    • Sarah says:

      Sharon,
      I really did not think that this blog would be able to reach so many people. It is such an honor to me that people are reading it and making so many thoughtful comments, like yours! Thank you so much! I just hope that it continues to grow so that we can keep building a really positive and honest community of people who are living with food allergies! Happiest of new years to you!
      Sarah

  24. Paul & Suzanne Granoff says:

    Hi Sarah, this post was as always amazing and a gift to all those who are out there each day protecting their children and them selves. You make a difference each day to your family and with each posting you are providing help to others. You are a gift to mankind. Keep it up Sarah. Happy New Year to you and yours. Love to you all. Paul and Suzanne

    • Sarah says:

      Paul and Suzanne,
      Thank you so much. Your opinion of my blog means so much to me. You are such wonderful, kind people and I am blessed to have you both in my life. Happy 2012! I hope it is an amazing one for you! Loved your holiday pic!
      Sarah

  25. Jen says:

    Another fantastic post, SBR. Almost makes me want to celebrate Xmas! Cheers, J

  26. Way to keep your babies safe! I love your posts!

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