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Special Treatment

This past weekend, we visited the Polar Express on the Great Smoky Mountain Railway. The train ride is setup like the famous movie Polar Express, based on the book by the same name. The train attendants are dressed like waiters, dancing down the aisles to the tunes from the movie, and a conductor punches each child's Golden Ticket. They serve hot cocoa and a chocolate Santa and then read the Polar Express book over a loud speaker. All the time, music is playing and the train is moving slowly to the North Pole.

Once reaching the North Pole, a small town lit up for the festivities, Santa boards the train to give each boy and girl the magical first gift of Christmas, a silver bell.

Meanwhile, we were seated in a four seat space - two pairs of seats facing each other. Sean, our youngest, sat staring in awe for the first 30 minutes. It was a lot for him to take in especially because he is in love with trains right now. Logan declared "This is awesome, better than Extreme Karate," an afterschool program he hopes to join in January. Ben was really happy and excited throughout the trip - constantly vocal and not happy sitting in one place. He stood on the seat trying to reach other people, lucky for us they were Grandpa and his friend. My husband and I took turns trying to hold him. I was counting the minutes until it would all be over. My body felt beat up from trying to keep Ben situated. It is hard to describe what Ben is like when he is happy, excited, vocal and super determined to do what he wants to do. He is 40lbs of long strong limbs, a grip of steel and willpower that would put a top wrestler to shame. Add to that, his ability to not let up for one second. I am frazzled physically, mentally and emotionally when Santa gets to us.

At first Santa bypassed Ben mumbling something I did not catch and gives our two younger boys the bells while asking them what they want for Christmas. Santa stood in the aisle, leaning over, while Logan told him he wanted Bakugans and a Laser. For a split second, I was annoyed that he ignored Ben.

Then the soft spoken Santa sat down on the edge of the armrest and asked to hold Ben. I was confused at first, but then snapped to attention. Ryan and I quickly got Ben on Santa's lap, and suddenly for a few seconds, Ben got quiet and calm. Santa suggested we take a photo.

It all happened very fast, a few seconds and this moment was over. I had the forethought before Santa even came to us to ask Grandpa to videotape - so I think he got the entire event. I have not watched it yet.

I wonder if you can see me holding back my tears.


  1. This is a heartfelt story with raw, honest feelings that a Mom (who has a special needs child) typically doesn't share with everyone. I am also the mom of a boy who has special needs and can relate to the impact it has in your day-to-day life. I don't believe someone on the outside can peek in and fully understand until they have walked a mile or ten in your shoes.

    I'm so glad that your whole family enjoyed the Polar Express train ride and that a very special Santa took the time to reach out to Ben in a very special way...

  2. Thank you for your words. It is difficult to put all that emotion out there for everyone to read. But it is great therapy for me when I am able to do it. I've also noticed that those who know me who read this, get to know me in a very different way and see me in a different light. Thank you for your support.

  3. How adorable! It's moments like that which make it all worthwhile! What a special moment for you and how great that you have a Polar Express! Our Meg would LOVE that!

  4. I know that feeling....that torn feeling of my heart is happy that my boy is clearly excited about this and why won't you just sit for crying out loud?!!? It seems like every other kid on the train is quietly sitting and enjoying the ride but not your wiggly, wriggly strong little guy. I think our Thomas the Train ride was much shorter than your ride in the Smokies though.
    And what a nice Santa. Some people just know, huh?

  5. What a sweet story! Thanks once again for sharing! Darryl


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