Jen Juneau
December 04, 2015 11:51 am

Santa Claus dedicates his life to making children happy during the holidays. He works year-round managing elves and taking care of reindeer, just so on that one magic night he can deliver gifts to kids all over the world. He sounds like a great guy, doesn’t he?

What if we told you he just went the extra mile and now Santa is even more amazing? You’d likely say, “What does going the extra mile even mean for a dude who literally travels all the miles every year, in one night?” Well, a mall Santa in Charlotte, N.C. gave us that answer last month when he got on the floor to hang out with Brayden Deely, a 6-year-old boy with autism who wasn’t into participating in the whole sit-on-Santa’s-lap thing.

According to an article on Today.com, even though he knew who Santa was, Brayden took a little while to warm up to the big guy. But Santa wasn’t deterred – after a little while, he simply put a musical snow globe on the floor and went back to his chair. After Brayden got curious and started playing with the globe, Santa worked his way down to join in on the fun.

“He got down on his stomach and just started playing with him,” Brayden’s mother, Erin Deely, said of Santa to the Today show. “They didn’t even talk to each other, really, they just bonded and played, and Brayden started to be really excited and started looking at him and smiling.”

This somehow-even-greater-than-we-thought-possible Santa is part of Autism Speaks’ Caring Santa program, which has mall locations in 120 U.S. cities and gives children with autism and other special needs the chance to bond one-on-one with Santa for 15 to 20 minutes – away from the lights, crowds, and noises that can be overwhelming for children in general, let alone those who are differently abled.

Of this amazing Caring Santa program, Deely told Today, “To be able to do something that’s ‘normal,’ like have a traditional photo and a traditional childhood memory, is great. Now we can have an actual Christmas picture, and our son feels safe. [Brayden was] not forced into it. He’s not all dressed up in fancy clothes, being put on a strange man’s lap and told to say cheese. It’s him literally being himself, and Santa getting on his level and accommodating him, rather than the other way around.” Deely also added that Santa got a well-deserved high-five from Brayden, and that Brayden didn’t want to leave!

Our faces hurt from smiling. Thank you to this Santa for making little Brayden’s day and consequently giving us all some beautiful holiday warm fuzzies! Christmas cheer is definitely in the air.

Related reading: 

This mom’s email paved the way to a dream ballet class for differently-abled kids

Target’s differently-abled Halloween ads are earning big props

(Image via Twitter)

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