The holidays are looking a little different for everyone this year, Santa and Mrs. Claus included.
Santa has visited kids at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for years, but this year had no choice but to make the visit virtual to ensure social distancing for all.
“There is a whole lot that is different this year due to the pandemic,” Santa said as he bellowed Ho Ho Ho through the video chat. “We don’t want anyone to forget about Santa or Mrs. Claus, so we have been doing as many visits as possible this year, just in different ways.”
They dialed in directly from the North Pole but declined to comment on their exact location.
With the help of Zoom, Child Life team members toured Santa and Mrs. Claus through several floors in the hospital and went door to door to see as many kiddos as possible.
Child Life specialist Molly Gering handed out holiday pajamas and stuffed animals on the Clauses’ behalf while they chatted via iPad video calls.
While initially shy, 18-month-old Ethan Wood quickly opened up to Santa and snuggled the fluffy stuffed puppy he received.
His dad, Nathan, said Ethan has been a very good boy this year. Ethan has Burkitt leukemia and is doing well right now. Dad said they hope to be done with treatment in February.
Kohen Karns was next to visit with Santa.
“Santa, do you know my elf Ryan?” Kohen, 9, asked. “He TP’d my room!”
Santa laughed and said they communicate with elves across the globe every day.
Molly from Child Life joked, “doesn’t that elf know we are on a toilet paper shortage?!”
Santa visited 11-year-old Izzy Hoadley and 5-year-old Mo Hartfield next and quickly updated his list as each kiddo had a new ask.
All the children he spoke with had different items on their Christmas lists ranging from Nerf guns and Legos to video games, books or arts and craft supplies. But one common Christmas wish remained on every child’s list: To be home for the holidays.