WATAUGA, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - It's a Christmas tradition: children sitting in Santa's lap, sharing their gift wishes and smiling for the camera.
But for one Watauga family, the most important memories were made before the camera clicked. "It was amazing to watch," said Misty Wolf, remembering the recent interaction between Santa and her 6-year-old son, Matthew.
The family had come to the Cabela's in Fort Worth with high hopes: Matthew, who is blind and autistic, had suddenly developed an interest in learning more about Santa Claus. Wolf said in years past the man in red had never really registered with Matthew, although he did love to hear her read "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Once they arrived Wolf ran ahead and whispered to Santa about Matthew's condition."
Santa put up his hand and said 'say no more,'" said Wolf. "He immediately... walked over to Matthew and got on the floor and grabbed Matthew's hands and let Matthew feel him." Wolf said the man knew how to connect with her son. "He was having him feel all over his coat, the fuzz and the felt... the hat. He even said 'pull my beard!'"
And it didn't end there. When asked what else he wanted to feel, Matthew said "your eyes that twinkle," quoting directly from the story the six-year-old loves so much. Wolf says it was a priceless experience. "It was like seeing Matthew see Santa."
Wolf says Santa asked Matthew if he had ever felt a reindeer, then picked up the boy and carried him to the animal figures stationed by his chair.
Santa told us every visit is special to him. "You relate to the child and what the child needs," he said. "[Matthew] has never seen the world the way we have seen the world."
Minutes after arriving, Matthew and little sister Lilly climbed into Santa's lap for the all-important picture. "It was definitely a moment when I was all teared up," said Wolf. "You know, Santa is the magic of Christmas."
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