I have always wondered how much fun those who play the role of Santa Claus have every year during the holiday season.
The task must not be easy – the simple pressure of having to meet the expectations of all the children we see would make me bend – but there must certainly be a great feeling of satisfaction at the end of each day.
After all, a good Santa Claus has the power to make all children smile, regardless of their mood, and the simple fact of knowing that he instills a sense of magic into a world that so desperately needs it must be like a healing balm for the soul.
However, few Santas have faced such a trying and tragic situation as Eric Schmitt-Matzen, mechanical engineer and co-owner of Packaging Seals & Engineering, who presents himself every year as Santa Claus at events and concerts.
According to reports, Eric had just returned home after work one day in 2016, when he received an urgent call from a Tennessee hospital.
Eric revealed to the press that a nurse was at the end of the line, and that she had called him because there was a five-year-old boy terminally ill at the hospital, whose last wish was to meet Santa Claus.
Eric rushed to the hospital and met the little boy’s mother, who gave him a gift that his son had expressly requested for this Christmas: a Paw Patrol figurine. Eric took the gift and asked the child’s family to wait outside while he met the little boy – he didn’t want to cry in front of the child if his family became emotional.
According to Eric’s story, he then entered the intensive care unit, sat at the end of the boy’s bed and asked him: “What’s there, I heard you were going to miss Christmas this year? »
After opening his gift, the boy replied: “They say I’m going to die. How do I know when I will arrive at the place where I am going? »
Eric would then have asked the boy to do him a special favor.
“When you get to Pearly’s gates, tell them that you are Santa’s number one elf, and I know they will let you in,” he said.
The little boy stood up in his bed and hugged Eric. The latter then told the press that the five-year-old child had died in his arms.
“He was in my arms when I felt him die,” the man explained.
Just a few days after Eric’s story gained viral notoriety – in December 2016 – his account of the events was questioned. The Knoxville News Sentinel, which was the first to report the story, published an editor’s note at the top of his article, revealing that he had not been able to “independently verify” Eric’s story.
Eric reacted by declaring himself hurt by doubts about the credibility of his story.
“I have the impression that I have been used and that I have been let down,” he said in a text message, according to TIME.
“I insisted from the beginning that I intended to keep my word and not to disclose information that could lead to the identity of these people.”
He added: “Now I’m being made to look like a liar. I tried to do a good deed, I was convinced to tell what had happened to me… and now the press is ridiculing me because I held on.”
This story was enough to make me cry. If Eric’s gesture moved you, leave a comment in the box.