Target Santa

December 2, 2011

Luc was about 5 years old, and if you’ve ever had a five-year old (much less one with what they call special needs)…… boot shopping can be an *adventure*. You have to be in a special mood. I had worked the night shift in Pediatric emergency. If you have ever worked nights you understand there is a special kind of a mood you are put into. Not only are you up all night…. the real problem begins when you arrive home. Kindergarten lasted until 2pm, my head hit the pillow at 8:30am.

Let the parade begin. Every Jehovah’s Witness knocks on your door (you want me to find God? GO AWAY.). Every parent group calls you on the phone. When I slept during the day I didn’t have the ability to turn off the phone…. those were the days when school flipped out on a regular basis (Luc was oh so threatening….) and if someone rang the doorbell I would automatically think it was the sheriff with bad news.

Work long enough in the trauma bay and you know what I mean.

But today was the day we needed to get new boots. I had procrastinated long enough.

Luc was always hard to fit shoes to, as he has a high top of his foot (not arch, top of his foot). Plus at the time he was extremely sensory challenged….. so let’s just say that boot trying on….. was a special kind of fun.

Off we went to Target.

Upon arriving at the boot isle the resistance began. We looked at the boots, we felt the boots, I convinced him to try them on. We got one boot on….. and the screaming began. I remember when I would be worried when Luc was a baby and cried…… there is a point every parent doesn’t care anymore. Life has to go on.

He was on the floor kicking and screaming. I was on my knees, I remember closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. As I did I heard a man in the same isle answer his phone.

“Hello…….. why yes Santa, hello! Yes…. there is a little boy in this isle.” Luc turned his head first, it took me a minute to catch on what this guy was saying. The m turned to look at Luc. “Hold on Santa……  what’s your name?” Luc looked at me….. I nodded.”

“Luc.” He nervously said. The man turned back to his phone.

“Yes Santa…. it IS Luc!!!” Luc looked at me, I about cried. This man was here to save me. Luc jumped up on his feet still with one boot on. “Yes Santa….. Luc is being very good right now…. he’s trying on his boots really nicely for his Mom.” He motioned for Luc to get those damn boots on!

Those boots could not have gone on his feet fast enough. I was surprised his foot didn’t go through the bottom. He stood there and showed the man, who gave Luc the thumbs up. Ugh…. I thought. The boots didn’t fit. As the man kept talking to Santa I hurried and got the next size up.

“Try these on…. quick.” I told him. Never in his life did he make that change so fast.

Suddenly I looked over….. and the man was gone.

“Mom…. was he really talking to Santa???” Luc’s eyes lit up like a tree.

“Of course he was.” I smiled. Good Lord this man just saved me. I wanted to hug him, thank him. Normally when you are in a  moment of struggle with your child people look the other way, turn their back, or give you that look like…… get that child under control. And here this stranger did something incredible. The gesture brought tears to my eyes.

The spirit of Christmas does exist.

I put Luc back into the cart and we continued on our way. Through every isle I looked and looked. I couldn’t find him. I so badly wanted to say thank you. And Luc couldn’t stop talking about it.

Because I enjoyed a special kind of torture I returned to work that evening for a four-hour shift. I walked in and there was my longtime coworker…. Ann. Talk about a rock in my world….. Ann was my rock in Pediatric Emergency. Not only had she been a nurse around the world….. but she and I had been in some tricky trauma situations together. This girl was my right hand.

I told her the story of what happened earlier that day, she knew of my struggles with Luc at the time. “That is the nicest thing I have ever heard.” She said. I remember talking about it for a while. We relayed the story and it became the feel good story of the night (trust me, we needed one).

Two or three weeks later, much closer to Christmas, a paramedic brought in a young man on a backboard. I should write this disclaimer: arriving by ambulance doesn’t make anyone jump up and run nor does it get you a room sooner, unless you have an airway issue, broken bone, or some obvious trauma. If you call an ambulance for a common cold….. which happens all*of*the*time…. you go to the waiting room.Just so you know….. emergency nurses never panic. Not even if you come in needing CPR. While that might seem odd to you……..  think about this……. you don’t want us to panic.

I greeted the Paramedic and began to take the boy’s information, Ann came over to see what was rolling in as she was in charge of assigning beds.

The Paramedic grabbed my arm. “HEY!” He said, “I AM TARGET SANTA!”


I can’t remember if I began to laugh or cry….. I do remember grabbing Ann and telling her….. this is the guy who saved me in Target!!!!!!!

After we settled the boy in….. The Paramedic ….. Alex……sat down and I finally got to thank him. Ann happened to be with me and got in on the conversation.

To make a long story short…. Ann and Alex began dating. No kidding. Seriously. No wait, it gets better. About a year later he proposed to her right in the emergency department, and they got married not long after. Seriously. Married.

Shortly into their relationship Ann told me that one night they were out to dinner and Alex said to her….. “How did I get so lucky to be sitting here with you.”

“One random act of kindness” she said.

As I passed that story back to Alex the other night…. I forget now what he said but something to the effect of….. not a random act of kindness, just helping a mom who was having a rough day. Indeed he did. Luc still talks about this, I still talk about this.

For as long as I live I will never forget this…. and look what became of it…. two soul-mates found each other. Does it get any better than this?



  1. What a wonderful & heartwarming story! And such great reminder that our random acts of kindness can be way bigger than anything we imagine.

  2. That story brought me to tears! What a great experience to share as we all go into this busy holiday season.

  3. This is an absolutely AMAZING story, Mary. THIS is why I believe in karma. That guy did something so nice for a total stranger, and you’re right, most people would DEFINITELY give a huge annoyed sigh or make some comment and leave the area. And not only did you randomly meet that guy again so you could express your thanks to him, you introduced him to his future wife!!! We need more people like that in the world. Good things happen to good people! 🙂

  4. That story seriously made me cry. Sitting at the train station waiting for the train home cry. What beautiful people you have in your life. Love it!

  5. Great story. What an amazing guy! I’m more of a “grit my teeth and bear it and let the parent deal with it” kind of person, but wish I could be more like your Target Santa.

  6. I am definately not the touchy-feely story person. At. all. However, this story completely warms my heart. Good things happen to people who are good to others! Nice work, Target Santa 🙂

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