in which she meets Santa: and I thought I wouldn’t care.

December 10, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 34 Comments

On Sunday we were at the Christmas Festival at Canuck Place, and there were tears. If you don’t know by now, I cry often, and I’m starting to like it.

There were tears when the carolers burst into song on the staircase outside, and Florence said, “mo,” when they had finished. And when she looked intently down her nose, trying to catch a better glimpse of their rosy cheeks and Santa Claus hats, I felt them rolling down my cold cheeks. She could barely see anything in her flat stroller, but she didn’t mind. I kept thinking: we are here, we are celebrating, and it feels really good.

Quite unexpectedly, there were tears when she saw Santa for the first time. I cried and she didn’t. I thought she would be terrified by this jolly man in a red suit, but he sat her upright on his lap, with no sputtering or choking, and we even managed to get a big smile out of her. Santa wasn’t phased by her inability to sit up on her own, after all, he is the Canuck Place Santa. I was rearranging her arms and trying to get her comfortable, when he said “it’s okay, I have her.” Well I lost it, bit my lip hard to keep the dam from opening, and felt like I was given the sweetest gift. I thought I wouldn’t care about Santa Claus, I thought I didn’t care about festive parties.

She’s young, she’s often nervous or moody and it’s a lot of work to push her to do certain things. We are used to being excluded from normal baby and toddler activities, and so, I figured we wouldn’t see Santa in a mall, since I’m not brave enough to take her there, and I knew she would probably freak right out by the fumbling, awkward Santa that gets paid by the hour. Plus, I’d probably be paranoid that Santa had some other child’s contagious snot on his fur trim.

I suppose we have become somewhat numb to the sting of exclusion. Santa? No big deal, I don’t believe in him anyway.

Oh, but how my heart longs for her to understand Christmas, to revel in the twinkling lights and make snow angels and dress up as Mary in a church play one day.

This heart of mine is being bent and turned in all sorts of directions this season. I want less commercial Christmas, and more of the eye swelling, deep feelings that come in the still of the holy night. I have a gaping hole where pain has made a home, and the longing for heaven often takes my breath away, and yet this is the season of joy. I want a candle lit, and a heart tuned to hear the Spirit’s whispers. But most of all, I want her to live a long and healthy life.

At the festival, she was alive and alight. I was thrilled down to my frozen toes and proud of my girl. I thought I didn’t care about these things because we have been in survival mode for so long. Just survive, just breathe, just make it through. Lately though, joy has been welling up inside of me. Perhaps it’s because she hasn’t been sick in the last month or so, and we are starting to feel invisible again, or because we have tapped into the true source of joy. You see, when we ride the wave of normalcy for long enough, we begin to feel normal. And then she gets a runny nose, and we end up in the ER.

But in this moment, this Christmas season, we are living life, enjoying the smallest things, thriving even. Canuck Place has helped us a lot, given us opportunities to join in and empowered us to celebrate the small and big milestones–like meeting Santa for the first time, having our picture snapped with him, and getting a gift bag with toys, a tutu, princess hat and dolly from Mrs. Claus. We haven’t celebrated crawling or walking milestones, we haven’t celebrated her sitting up on her own or feeding herself, but we have and will continue to celebrate her.

My heart was deliciously full the entire day. I didn’t have a care in the world. It was just my family, enjoying a Christmas festival, in a safe and accessible place, and that made all the difference.

20131210-083358.jpgWe drank cups of hot chocolate, and waited in line to get her face painted. She didn’t flinch when the cold paint touched her cheek, and the overly cheerful lady fluttered her hands to and fro. Florence watched herself in the mirror, enthralled by the strokes of the brush on her chubby cheeks.

20131209-161425.jpgSanta came upstairs after the festival was over, on special request for another family. While he was waiting for the other little one, Florence managed to have some one on one time with him. She stared intently at him, allowed him to stroke her hair and tell her jokes. He didn’t ask her what she wanted for Christmas, or if she had been good. He simply spent time with her, poured out the gentlest love on her.


This is a gorgeous hand knit toque, in the colors of our Vancouver Canucks. One woman spent a whole year, crocheting blankets and toques and scarves for all the kids. We got a lovely heavy blanket in faded reds, yellows, blues and grays, and two knitted ducks (her favourite animal as of late).


20131210-123017.jpgOh, my heart.20131210-123024.jpg

20131210-083413.jpgCanuck Place lights are so magical…


  • Reply Gabrielle December 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    I’m bawling. As a fellow person in the disabled community (I’m hearing impaired), I know how much these beautiful moments mean. Reading your words about Florence’s sweet smile and the kind Santa made my heart happy.

    Thank you for sharing your story in this public space. I know it’s not easy, but please know that your words hold hope for others. <3

    • Reply Michaela. December 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Gabrielle, thank you very much for reading and for writing. It means so much to hear your words. They are lovely. xo

  • Reply jessihannahjay December 13, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    She is such a beautiful little lady with the cutest smile. Blessings these holidays Michaela. I’m glad this little one has such a loving mama to celebrate the wonder that she is.

    • Reply Michaela. December 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      Thanks Jessi, so nice to hear from you! She is a treasure.

  • Reply Alison December 12, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I kind of hope that I’m right, that Jesus shows up in Santa’s outfit, sits us on his lap and says, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.” Oh boy. I sure need it. To be loved in the Just Right Way is surely the gift that was given, and I am so thankful you received it in all its glory. I am more thankful still that you shared it and that my friend then shared it, so that I could remember that we’re meant to just show up just like your sweet girl did (just like YOU did!) and sit there. Just sit there and listen to the jokes and feel his hand on our head. So thank-full.

    • Reply Michaela. December 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Alison, I’m so glad you stopped by too, and had such a sweet revelation. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Gayle Ruud December 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    I woke up this morning and saw your post and the tears just flowed when I looked at the pictures of Flo and all of you together as a family. Michaela, thanks for sharing these precious moments with us. My heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness to see Flo’s beautiful little face experiencing so much love and joy from all those around her…the pictures of Flo helped to capture your words and feel the beauty of the moments with Santa. The look on her face is priceless. If we could all look at life and people through the eyes of an innocent child, how much better life could be. What a gift Canuck Place has been to your family and what a gift you all are to all of us in the family…Thanks for sharing your life with us in a such a meaningful, heartfelt and profound way, your words are life-changing Michaela…I send prayers and big hugs and love to you, Jason and our darling Flo…xoxo

    • Reply Michaela. December 12, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Auntie, thank you for your words. They mean so much. xo

  • Reply Vangel December 12, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    Michaela! The pictures are soooooos sweet! So happy for you and Jay – what a memory this is! Her eyes are so alive, so bright, so full of wonder… thank you for sharing your experience with us! We love you guys!

    • Reply Michaela. December 12, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Aren’t they? I love them too. And we love you guys. Xo

  • Reply Tina Francis (@teenbug) December 12, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    Oh my heart….

  • Reply Chelsea Henkel December 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Tears definitely rolled down my cheeks while reading this post. How our hearts ache with yours and how our hearts rejoice as you embrace the beauty that life brings in every special moment. Flo is so beautiful and has touched so many hearts already. Those pics of her are absolutely priceless and you capture the moment so beautifully. Christmas is all about loving and celebrating each are doing just that.. Wish we could spend ours together. Love you and Jay and Flo SO MUCH!

    • Reply Michaela. December 12, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Thanks cousin. I wish that too. xo

  • Reply Nelia December 10, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    My heart overflows for yours tonight. Canuck Place holds a dear, dear place in our hearts for the exact reasons you so beautifully stated. Such priceless gifts of milestones & memories. Blessings on you and your sweet little family!

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      Ooh, Nelia, thank you. This blesses me so. xo

  • Reply willowlost December 10, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Michaela, thank you for sharing this special day with your family. I cried when I looked at the pictures of Flo, so incredibly filled with awe and joy. I looked at the pictures over and over. What a precious day of memories. Thanks to God for the love and inclusion spread by Canuck Place. I have a friend whose daughter spent much time and he can’t say enough good things about how they helped his family through a tragic time. May God continue to pour out his blessings on you and yours throughout this wonderful season of hope and renewal.

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      It’s so lovely to hear these types of things…and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the pictures 🙂

  • Reply Rachel December 10, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    I love your posts. This entry reminds me how God blesses us with surprise moments that brings us to tears. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is.

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      thanks for the love, Rachel. it’s such a blessing to hear that.

  • Reply Melanie December 10, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    God is good! His mercies are new EVERY day….filling us with joy and hope! Every little smile is worth acknowledging and giving thanks for. Praying for your family that unlimited blessings will flow down from the One who knows the beginning and the end.

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      Thank you very much Melanie!

  • Reply Diana Winder December 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Reading this post was accompanied by my own tears rolling down! I love your heart as your words always reach mine. I love your precious spirit. I love these intimate pictures of Florence and your family. It reminds me to look for joy in all small (or large) things that are easily swept away in a days or moments rush. Florence is frequently on my mind and in my prayers. She will never know that how she experiences Christmas right now may be different from others, but to see her light up at what Christmas is for her is so magical and heart warming. Watching, believing and praying as God daily brings miracles into her life and yours! Be blessed!

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Hello Diana, I appreciate your words so much. It’s true, she doesn’t know the difference in how she celebrates
      Christmas, and I’m learning to let my longings for her be turned into peace.

  • Reply Janet Abele December 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    OH how your writing and sweet pictures brought me to tears, tears of happiness for you all. we all know how difficult this season can be for “US” as we walk on eggshells, and watch others, rejoicing , partying and shopping till they drop for all they wish for. When all we ever wish for is our babies to be healthy, happy, and feel loved and accepted by all, including Santa Claus.. Merry Christmas, Florence.. there is NO elf on a shelf needed here…. xxooxxo

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Janet, thank you so much for sharing in this with us! It means an awful lot. I don’t know your story, but if you’d ever like to tell it, I’m all ears. Bless you.

      • Reply Debbie Tuit December 12, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        Michaela, I have become wonderful friends with Janet , by chance ,on Facebook. So wonderful to share stories of our older children together. She and her family live near Paul’s home town. Small world eh! Wonderful story, wonderful pics! That little Flo just makes me smile!
        Thanks for sharing Janet. We just had our ER weekend, and now deal with health issues, and mental health issues.. Nick is 31 now. Never thought it would turn this way.
        Thank you for writing in a way that brings hope Michaela.
        Thank you for being a new friend Janet.
        Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Reply Donna-Jean Brown December 10, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    How sweet that Florence wasn’t afraid of Santa the way so many children are. Looked like this “Santa” had God’s tender Spirit within.

  • Reply Sophie December 10, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Rejoicing with you!!! Oh I love those pics of Flo with Santa!! Especially the big smiley one and the one where she’s looking so intently 🙂

    • Reply Michaela. December 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      They make me so happy! Thanks for sharing in our joy, Sophie!

  • Reply Nanny December 10, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Sweet child, there are blessings hidden above, and perhaps you have to be ancient to see them beyond your words – for those of us who have weathered several generations, too much adieu about little (or nothing) seems the norm these days – your “adieu” is about little things that are big things – earth shaking things – heart felt things – each breath, each day, each smile full of love,

    • Reply Cathy Vanderkooy December 11, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Thank you Nanny. I echo your words, so aptly written. I’m glad I stopped long enough to take this in. It has recallibrated my heart for the day and it’s only 11am.

      • Reply Michaela. December 12, 2013 at 9:28 AM

        Cathy, such precious words. Thank you.

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