My Own Polar Express-Part 2: Finding the Magic Again.

Polar Express Believe ticket

Continuing from my previous post

Just like the Hero Boy in the Polar Express, we all have to grow up one day. My life went on. I grew up, went to college, married my childhood sweetheart and started a family, but I never forgot that magical Christmas Eve. I shared this story with my husband many times through the years and we both agreed that when we had children, Santa would visit them as well.

The dilemma for us would first come with our families. There were some in our family who did not have Santa visit their home. I understood why and I had no problems with it. I’m a preacher’s kid. I get it. I know the true story of Christmas and there was never a question that my children would know it as well, BUT I wanted my children to have Santa, too. Santa was that important to me.

When Taylor was first diagnosed with autism, we came across our second dilemma. One of the things that his therapists worked on was helping Taylor learn how to use his imagination. If you have a child on the spectrum, then you know. Everything is literal. Imagination is hard. During his many therapy sessions, his speech therapist worked on this with him. One of the many ways was trying to help Taylor imagine an object was something else. My husband and I would do this with him as well whenever the opportunity arose.

For example, I would get a banana and pretend to use it as a telephone. Yeah, most of the time Taylor would just stare at me and then want to eat the banana.

Imagination and pretending are a part of childhood and something that most parents just take as a given. Pretend play didn’t happen often at our house and proved to be very difficult for Taylor. He saw things as they were and that was that. This brought up a HUGE concern for me, something that I never thought would be an issue to teach my child. Like I mentioned before, I am a preacher’s kid and I just assumed my children would come out of the womb knowing who Jesus was…who God was!

Let me ask you something. Can you think of anything more abstract? How was I going to teach Taylor about Christ’s love? Even bigger than that, how was I going to ever be able to teach Taylor about God? Taylor can’t see Him, can’t touch Him, can’t go visit Him. Taylor can’t even call Him on the phone and hear His voice.  HOW was I going to do this? I had faith though and I prayed that God would show me.

I put it in His hands. I would know how to do this when the moment was right.
Taylor was just 9 months old when we took him to visit Santa for the first time and began a tradition that would last for years to come. He was so adorable! He actually laughed when Santa put him on his knee. No tears from Taylor, he was never scared of Santa.

I believe it was the Christmas when Taylor was three years old that God showed me the “right moment”. It was like an epiphany…Santa could teach Taylor how to believe!

Hang with me here.

With Santa, here was someone Taylor could see. Someone he could touch, someone he could visit. He could even call him on the phone and hear his voice. No imagination there BUT here is where it came in.

What did Santa do the rest of the year? What was he doing during summer break? How did he get around? Did he always fly a sleigh? Where did he go on vacation? Did he walk his deer? What did the elves look like? What about his shop? How did the reindeer fly? Did they go into outer space?

And so Taylor began to IMAGINE. He was non verbal as a toddler. I think his total of words by the time he was the age of three was holding at around 40 words but he would draw pictures! Oh my goodness! What a beautiful world I discovered through Taylor’s drawings.

No, this wasn’t turning a banana into a telephone, it was bigger than that. He was beginning to imagine and draw things that he never saw in real life. He was using his IMAGINATION!

The years went by and Taylor’s creativity grew. We were still not on the communication level to have a dialog about God but I felt in my heart that Taylor knew Him. Then one day on the way home from church we heard from the back seat, “Jesus lives in my heart.”

My husband and I, together. – “Yes, Taylor! Yes, He does!”

Taylor meant it. He wasn’t just repeating something back at us. To tell you the truth, I think Taylor understood what that meant better than any adult I have ever met.

In all honesty, Taylor taught ME who God is. He is still teaching me.

My boys are older now and Santa has moved on to share his magic with other boys and girls but my boys still believe.

 autism imagination

Santa gave Taylor an incredible gift, not me, not my husband…Santa! The gift of imagination. That one thing changed Taylor’s world. It helped him through some really tough times as well. A perfect example was how it helped him cope with the death of two of his grandmothers. Santa taught Taylor how to imagine which allowed Taylor to envision Heaven and what his MeeMaw and MadaWane are doing even now as they sit up in Heaven.

Please understand, this is not a post begging you come to Christ or push my beliefs on you. It is about my family’s life. It is about how my husband and I found a way to teach our autistic son about the love of God, who Jesus was, what He did for us and how the magic of Christmas lives in all of us. I am not saying this is the only way or the right way, but it was the right way for us.

I do hope this post blesses you all and remember, Santa is real!

You just have to believe.
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