Detroit, Michigan

Detroit. Late December. Santa was running late for his appointment. He was stuck in traffic on I-75. Santa was driving an old car.

The car had been giving him fits. The vehicle had been in the shop for a week. The car had needed a new alternator. The godless auto mechanics had charged him $500 bucks to replace it, plus labor. It was highway robbery.

They were taking Mister Claus to the cleaners.

Plus, Santa’s home heat pump had quit working. His wife had called for an estimate from a repairman. The heater guy said the old heat pump unit was shot. So they would need a new heater. We’re talking a lot of cash.

Santa didn’t make much money. He was a blue-collar guy. His main gig was working at an automotive assembly plant.

He had been working there for 39 years, welding Dearborn steel. His department-store Santa gig was only part time. A seasonal job.

The gig started one year when Santa’s beard went white, and a coworker told him he looked a lot like Kris Kringle.

The rest was history. Santa grew his beard out. He invested in a costume. It was a good side job.

But his financial life was falling apart. He was hemorrhaging money. They were living on peanuts, and his wife was buying groceries with pocket change. It was shaping up to be a hard candy Christmas.

And right now, Santa was late for an appointment at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He was supposed to meet a little boy and deliver holiday cheer. But right now, he was gridlocked in traffic.

Santa glanced at his watch. He was 45 minutes late, and traffic still wasn’t moving.

Santa slapped his steering wheel and used an expletive. Not a bad word. But an expletive.

Then, his car died.

Santa had to call AAA. Finally, after 90 minutes of waiting around for a ride, Santa arrived in the parking lot of the hospital. He jumped out of the AAA taxi and trotted toward the hospital doors, tugging his red stocking cap onto his head.

People stared as Santa trotted across the snowy parking lot in his red suit and shiny black boots.

He burst into the lobby, winded from exertion. He pressed the button for the elevator. He rode the elevator with several others, who all kept gawking at him like he had lobsters crawling out his ears.

“You get a lot of funny looks when you dress up like Santa. You get people who find you amusing. Sometimes people make fun of you.”

Sometimes people want their pictures with you. Other people treat you like you’re a few nuggets short of a 12-piece dinner.

Ah, America.

Santa arrived on the right floor. He checked in with the receptionist, who gave him a lanyard and badge. It took some looking around, but Santa eventually found the right room. He knocked on the little boy’s door.

“Hello?” he said.

A little boy was sleeping in a bed. His name was Chase.

Chase’s kidneys were shutting down. There wasn’t a lot of hope for Chase unless the kid found a donor for a kidney.

Santa pulled a chair beside the bed. He held Chase’s hand as the boy slept. He sang to him softly.

Finally, the boy woke up. When he did, he saw Santa.

“It’s you,” said Chase.

“It’s me,” said Santa.

“I knew you’d come.”

“Santa wouldn’t miss it.”

The boy asked about reindeer and Mrs. Claus and the North Pole and elves and all things children always ask about. About sleighs. About milk and cookies. About time travel. About life.

Santa started to feel differently about his own life’s problems while looking at this precious and brave child.

“Can you make me feel better, Santa?” asked Chase. “Can you heal me?”

Santa smiled. His eyes became hot and waterlogged. “I don’t know, son. But I’ll talk to my boss about it.”

“Who is your boss?”

Santa pointed to the ceiling.

When Santa left the hospital room, he collapsed against the wall and sobbed. Santa was really crying. He removed his hat and cried into it. And something in him shifted.

When he finally pulled himself together, he found a doctor in the hallway and told the doc he wanted to get tested to be a kidney donor.

So they did three tests. A blood-type test, a crossmatching test, and an HLA tissue-typing test. Santa was a match. Which was a minor miracle. Santa was in surgery not long thereafter.

I bring all this up to get to Santa’s main message: “You don’t have to be Santa to help a child. Anyone can do it.”

And well, I can’t come up with a better closing line than that.


  1. Patty Vincent - December 16, 2022 6:54 am

    Your closing line was just fine. I always love reading what you write. Gets me every time. Thank you!! Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas. 🎄

  2. TAKR - December 16, 2022 7:04 am

    That’s beautiful…🎅🏻

  3. 🇿🇦 Norma Den - December 16, 2022 7:42 am

    Best closing line ever. 👏🏻👍 God bless Santa & that sweet little boy.

  4. Carol - December 16, 2022 8:37 am

    Thank you, once again, for a marvelous beginning to the day.

    • Susan Beachy - July 11, 2023 12:32 pm

      I read your comment and wondered if you are the Carol Pilmer who lived in Alliance OH years ago? Susan (Unruh) Beachy

  5. Steve McCaleb - December 16, 2022 9:21 am

    God bless the old elf……and his helpers like you dear boy.

  6. Ginga Smithfield - December 16, 2022 10:05 am

    You are right,Sean! You couldn’t have come up with a better closing line!! No one could have!! Merry Christmas!

  7. Debbie g - December 16, 2022 10:07 am

    Love to all

  8. Melissa Brown - December 16, 2022 10:40 am

    God Bless you Sean for once again me a wonderful start to a new day !!!

  9. Melissa Norman - December 16, 2022 10:53 am

    Wow!!! What a beautiful way to start my day in the chilly, snowy U.P. of Michigan. Thank you for bringing back the true spirit of Christmas which is the “gift of giving”. God bless you, Jamie & all of my fellow Americans. What a wonderful way for a miracle to occur in a little boy’s life!!! Thank you, Santa!!!

  10. Donna - December 16, 2022 11:51 am

    We have many blessings and could be a blessing if we spent less time fretting over our own circumstances. God bless this Santa.

  11. Susan - December 16, 2022 12:01 pm

    Ugly cry. 😭❤️

  12. Maggie Priestaf - December 16, 2022 12:30 pm

    Sean, my hubby is a professional Santa in the Detroit area and we are deep into of our season. It is an amazing adventure and my Santa touches a lot of lives both young and old. Thank for sharing this miraculous story. A blessed Christmas to you and those you love. Mrs. Claus

  13. Steve - December 16, 2022 12:52 pm

    Thanks Sean, a Christmas Miracle!

  14. Steve R - December 16, 2022 1:20 pm

    It’s a Christmas Miracle. Thanks Sean.

  15. Priscilla Rodgers - December 16, 2022 1:32 pm

    What a beautiful story of giving and love. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Thanks for reminding us Sean.

  16. Ann - December 16, 2022 1:46 pm

    The reason for the season…Amen

  17. sjhl7 - December 16, 2022 1:57 pm

    Beautiful! Tears, lots of tears!

  18. mccutchen52 - December 16, 2022 2:10 pm

    Great Sean. No eyedrops again this morning

  19. Susie - December 16, 2022 2:11 pm

    Lovely, Sean, absolutely lovely. ❤️

  20. Patricia Gibson - December 16, 2022 2:17 pm

    Sean, thanks so much for sharing these uplifting messages and God bless Santa!

  21. Anne Arthur - December 16, 2022 2:29 pm

    And there’s nothing to add… just that there are amazing people everywhere.

  22. Lisa J Phillips - December 16, 2022 2:31 pm

    Again Sean. I’ll have to invest in more waterproof mascara 😭❤️🎅🏼

  23. Brenda Lynch - December 16, 2022 2:50 pm

    I keep a little saying on my desk–It says, “Love is a verb, Love isn’t what you say, Love is what you do.” And, I say Love never fails–And this story is a perfect mingling of the Christmas stories. Santa did
    a special act of love and he will be blessed for that. Merry Christmas everyone!

  24. Hazel - December 16, 2022 3:22 pm

    I have a friend in stage four kidney failure ” Hoping Christmas brings his Santa Claus”…

  25. David - December 16, 2022 3:49 pm

    No matter how bad we think we have it or how bad we feel, there is always someone who has it a little worse. That Santa heard from God that day!!

  26. Stacey Wallace - December 16, 2022 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the great story, Sean. May God bless Santa and the boy. Love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.

  27. JonDragonfly - December 16, 2022 3:57 pm

    Folks, it starts as simply as checking a box on your driver’s license.

  28. pattymack43 - December 16, 2022 4:18 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️ No words can top yours. Thank you for keeping us informed of what we wouldn’t otherwise know. May God bless Santa and his Mrs. May God bless you and your Mrs. MERRY CHRISTMAS

  29. Deborah Blount - December 16, 2022 4:37 pm

    That was beautiful, Sean. The true meaning of Christmas. Thank you!

  30. 1018le - December 16, 2022 4:56 pm

    An unforgettable story…and a great point, Sean! Sometimes, the child is grown up, too! Merry Christmas! 🙂

  31. Robina Herman - December 16, 2022 5:31 pm

    Beautiful! I just found you and started following you. So happy I did.

  32. Bruce Rogers - December 16, 2022 5:46 pm

    Thank you Sean. Yes so many times it’s not about ourselves but how we can help God help someone else.

  33. Cindy A Carrington - December 16, 2022 5:56 pm

    Great story as my daughter waits for a kidney donor, this really hit home.

  34. Cindy A Carrington - December 16, 2022 5:58 pm

    Great story! As my daughter waits for a kidney donor this really hit home!

  35. Sandra Jones - December 16, 2022 6:22 pm

    Beautiful gift… Best to all

  36. Gordon - December 16, 2022 7:22 pm

    So, so touching, Sean. There are still those in this world how have a heart and who give what they can give-even a kidney. God bless this dear “Santa”.

  37. Mark Capaldini - December 16, 2022 8:06 pm

    I am a kidney donor and loved this story. Please consider giving the National Kidney Foundation and the National Kidney Registry permission to use it. Exact matches can’t always happen — but the national exchange allows donors to help a partner who isn’t an exact match. There is a time lag, but it works — and more donors will help it work faster.

  38. davidpbfeder - December 16, 2022 8:56 pm

    The Big Guy upstairs works in some very mysterious ways. If you can, please provide a follow-up to this story. Please. Please please.

  39. Linda Moon - December 16, 2022 9:15 pm

    godless mechanics…the worst kind. Santas who are steelworkers and often have other jobs and find time to visit sick children are among the best of us, and I bet us readers will also help a child when needed because of that closing line!

  40. Becky Thomas - December 16, 2022 9:29 pm

    My husband needs a kidney, as I am crying I thank you for the extra hope your story brings

  41. Pam Pruitt - December 16, 2022 10:33 pm

    I donated a kidney to my husband almost 17 years ago. It was the first thing in my life I could give over to God and I never had a worry that I might be harmed. The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, NC performed the surgery. They did an excellent job. I was out in 4 days and my husband in a week. We are both healthy and I’ve never had a second of regret. I’m sure the surgery and recovery has improved since then. If someone you love needs a kidney, volunteer to be tested.

  42. Brant Riley - December 16, 2022 10:50 pm

    Love it!

  43. Karen - December 17, 2022 1:20 am

    Amen. Merry Christmas.

  44. Carol Pilmer - December 17, 2022 2:16 am

    A True Christmas Miracle!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  45. Renee Welton - December 17, 2022 11:44 am

    I’m lying here in bed reading this. I live about 30 minutes from Detroit. It’s a rough town that I don’t visit very often. This story made me cry. (Most of your stories do) I love them all…the ones that make me cry are the best🎄♥️🎄♥️🎄

  46. Gwen - December 17, 2022 1:04 pm


  47. Ruth - December 18, 2022 12:42 pm

    Loved hearing this poignant story and love reading all the wonderful comments.

  48. Cheryl - December 22, 2022 12:42 pm

    One of my best friends is a kidney recipient. Her kidney donor has allowed her to see her youngest child and her grandchildren grow up. What a beautiful gift. Thank you Sean for the reminder.


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