A Sign for Santa

by | Jun 7, 1998 | Christmas

It had been a long day. I was tired, and ready to go home. But, home would have to wait for now. A little Christmas miracle was just around the corner, waiting to be born.

My wife and I and our five children had recently moved to the little Texas town of Overton. We had been involved in the Christian ministry for years and had been badly hurt by some people we deeply loved. Spiritually and emotionally bruised and still nursing our wounds we were not yet ready to re-enter the same type of ministry again, at least not right away.

Still, for the sake of the kids and so we could get to know some of the people in our little community we had decided to do some volunteer work for the local library. It was a way we could give and feel appreciated in some small way. Today we had helped with a community Christmas party. I had played the part of Santa.

Now, though, the kids were all gone and it was time for Santa to go into the back room and transform, once again, into plain old me. But Christmas miracles don’t always abide by our plans and timetables, not even for the man in red.

Knock, knock, knock.

“Yes,” I said, as I finally got out of the old, worn out Santa suit. It didn’t fit right – loose where it should be tight, snug where it should be baggy. It was unseasonably warm that day. I was soaked with perspiration, fatigued, and ready to go home.

“Gary, there’s a little boy out here who wants to see Santa,” my wife said in her best upbeat voice. “Gary, he’s deaf.”

I would have put the suit back on for any kid. But, being disabled myself, and having five disabled children who often feel “left out”, and since I know sign language, well . . . How could I refuse?

“I’ll be right there,” I said as I started putting back on the stuffy old suit.

A few minutes later Santa came out the door and walked up behind Dewey. The lady who brought him to the library whispered, “You can just give him some candy and he’ll be happy.”

Santa simply looked over the rim of his glasses and smiled with a wink. Taking Dewey by the hand Santa led the young, gleaming boy to the big chair then plopped him up on Santa’s knee.

“What is your name?” Santa asked with his white gloved hands. Dewey could not answer! He was so shocked that he jumped down and went to the friend that brought him.

“He signs, He talks like me!” Dewey signed with so much excitement and enthusiasm that Santa could hardly keep up.

“My name is Santa,” Santa signed to Dewey trying, rather futilely, to keep this young man, somehow, on track. Finally, after several false starts, Dewey sat still long enough for Santa to have a real conversation with him.

Santa and Dewey spent the next ten to fifteen minutes talking about whatever it is that little Dewey wanted to talk about. Then it was time for Dewey to go home.

As Dewey took his peppermint stick, Santa made the sign for “I love you” as he smiled at the bouncing little boy with the dancing eyes. Then Dewey’s friend took him by the hand and they walked out into the darkness of night. But before he walked out the door Dewey looked back and signed “I love you” back to Santa.

Santa sat there for just a moment. Somehow he didn’t seem so tired anymore. The old suit didn’t fit any better, but now it didn’t matter. Somehow the Christmas holidays made a little more sense and seemed just a bit brighter for the old man in red.

Santa soon became me, again, and I left that night with a joy I had not known in quite some time. The dark cloud of love betrayed was lifted, at least for a time, by the tiny, very energetic hands of a little deaf boy.

I see Dewey and his parents around town from time to time. He doesn’t know who I am, but I know who he is, and what he did for me.

Dewey’s friend works just down the road from where we live. She keeps me updated on Santa’s little friend. This past Christmas Dewey wasn’t able to come to the library to see Santa. So Santa found out where he lives and went to see Dewey. But Dewey wasn’t home, his parents had taken him out of town for the holidays.

This young man had helped me out of a slump. He had loved purely and completely. He simply showed his heart as it radiated out his hand. I had to do something for this little boy. But, what?

Christmas miracles are not easily discouraged. A little thought, a little creativity, and with the aid of one of Santa’s own little “elves”, Santa grabbed the old Polaroid and returned to Dewey the “I love you” sign he had given the year before. We left it on his door, and went home for our own Christmas celebration.

I can hardly wait to see what happens this Christmas!

Walden@usa.com Gary Walden

I am a Baptist minister who happens to also be physically disabled. My wife, Gina, and I homeschool our five children. I have long been interested in writing to inspire and have just recently drummed up the courage to actually attempt it!


A Sign for Santa