6-Year-Old Boy Who Is Blind 'Sees' Santa for the First Time: 'My Heart Is So Full,' His Mom Says
A Texas mom with a 6-year-old son living with blindness and autism got the best Christmas gift ever earlier this month when she took little Matthew Foster to meet Santa Claus
A Texas mom with a 6-year-old son living with blindness and autism received the best Christmas gift ever when she took him to meet Santa Claus.
Misty Wolf and her son Matthew Foster visited the North Pole at Cabela’s sporting goods store in north Fort Worth because he’s “very interested” in Kris Kringle, the mom of two wrote on Facebook on Dec. 5 in a post that has since gone viral.
Foster, who was born premature at 24 weeks and spent 111 days in the NICU, knows the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by heart because of how vividly it describes Santa, Wolf tells PEOPLE. “He memorized it the very first time I read it to him,” she adds.
When Wolf walked into the store with her two children, there was no line, and she explained her son’s conditions to Santa Claus. He simply responded, “Say no more,” before getting down to the floor to meet the boy at eye level.
Then, according to Wolf’s post, he “talked to Matthew for a long time. Let him feel all over him. Told him to pull his beard, feel his hat and talked about his red suit. He asked Matthew if he wanted to feel anything and Matthew said, ‘Your eyes that twinkle,’ ” which is a line from the classic rhyme.
“So Santa let him touch all over his eyes for as long as Matthew wanted,” Wolf continued in the post. “Then Santa said, ‘Have you ever felt a real reindeer?’ Santa then carried him over to the display area, and had Matthew pet the taxidermy reindeer they had set up. It was great. My heart was full seeing Matthew so interested.”
The interaction lasted about 10 minutes, Foster’s mom guesses, recalling to PEOPLE, “He was so gentle. He touched Matthew’s hands, and usually he would pull away, but [Santa] explained who he was … in such good detail and had Matthew intrigued from the start. A full conversation was going on instantly. Santa had his trust from the moment he touched him.”
Wolf says that though her son has met Santa six times previously, in the past he wasn’t interested. She adds that he doesn’t normally “talk to people.”
She explains, “It’s just who he is. He doesn’t hold a conversation very well unless you talk to him about what he wants. He doesn’t talk about what you want to talk about hardly ever.”
Foster also struggles with posing for photos. But this time around, after Santa asked him, ” ‘Do you mind coming and sitting on my lap and taking a picture with me?’ ” Wolf says he “grabbed [Santa’s] arm and walked with him to the chair. He lifted his head up and looked at wherever the [camera sound] was coming from.”
Wolf adds, “I really believe he met the real Santa. That was the Santa that Matthew needed to meet.”
“It’s been a work in progress to get him to understand Christmas,” Wolf explains, noting that Foster asked Santa for water rather than gifts. But she’s hopeful they made headway this year.
“Afterward in the car he said, ‘Mommy did I feel Dasher? Can we go back and feel Cupid?’ ” she recalls. She says she plans to wrap “two little bottles of water underneath the Christmas tree for him.”
The North Texas Santa’s real name is Jim Langley. He’s been playing the part for 48 years, and knew Foster’s visit was special even though he has the same approach to every child.
“You give the child what the child needs,” he tells PEOPLE. “If you have to get on the floor and play with the children, that’s what you do. You do what you have to do to reach a child.”
And how does Langley feel about being dubbed the “real Santa?” He says, “It’s an honor. I’m glad that Matthew got what he needed.”
Cabela’s employees were touched by the story, too.
“Meeting Santa is a very big deal for every child and we strive to make every visit a special memory for families,” the company said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Hosting Matthew and his family was a joy for our entire team because we love sharing the true spirit of Christmas with so many others.”