The Santa that Received a Gift of his Own

Santa brightens the night

Back to Article
Back to Article

The Santa that Received a Gift of his Own

KiaraC, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a man who plays Santa at 80 different gigs every year, but it was one boy in a Tennessee hospital who sparked a change in him he will never forget.

Schmitt-Matzen loves to play Santa Claus during the Christmas season to spread holiday cheer. It wasn’t till this season he realized the real power of Santa Claus when he was called to the bedside of a terminally-ill boy.

“I’d just gotten home from work that day,”
Schmitt-Matzen, 60, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. He received a call from a nurse he had known that worked at a hospital nearby, “she said there was a very sick five-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus” Schmitt-Matzen said. He didn’t have enough time to put on his red suit, so he threw on Santa suspenders and sped to the hospital.

When Schmitt-Matzen entered the ICU, he found the boy’s family and the child’s mother handed him a wrapped toy. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job,” Schmitt-Matzen said. When he walked in the room, the boy looked as if he was about to fall asleep. “Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas?” Schmitt-Matzen said in his Santa voice. “There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!” The weak boy looked up at the man in the long, white beard and asked him, “I am?”.

The little boy then sat up and gave him a big embrace. He then began to ask a question , “Santa can you help me?” Which would have been his final words.
“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there”,Schmitt-Matzen said.

“He was in my arms when I felt him pass,
kinda looked up in the air, and tears started coming down my face,” he told

“I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time”, he added of the experience, which occurred more than a month ago.
Schmitt-Matzen was so affected he even considered the thought of leaving Santa Claus behind for good.

But he dragged himself to another show, and remembered just what had inspired him to wear Father Christmas’ suit in the first place.