There is a school where Santa Claus learns how to answer heartbreaking requests

Christopher Spata reports on an incredible story that left me speechless at the crossroads of childhood earnestness and a deep and desperate yearning for a bygone era, where a small cadre of humans help each other find their way, ushered by a man in a red suit, wielding the magic of hopes, wishes and Christmas.

It was years ago, after he'd retired from the police force. The girl sat on his lap, explained all she wanted for Christmas was her mother to come home. The woman had died in a car crash on Thanksgiving.
Santa John Deane, 67, is 6-foot-2, 360 pounds. He has a dragon tattooed on his forearm. He has a beard like a viking. He didn't know what to say.

Santa Claus is magic. Children and adults know it, so they line up every Christmas season at malls and department stores and parties to share their deepest desires with him. They sit on the lap of a man they've never met, but one they already know and trust. Sometimes they open up to him more than they have to their own families.
Usually, they ask for a toy, but fairly frequently it's a much tougher request. Kids have asked Santa to cure a relative's illness, reunite divorced parents, resurrect a pet or end a stretch of unemployment.
How can Santa respond to that?

Want to be Santa? Be ready for tough questions and heartbreaking requests | Tampa Bay Times

How could I answer such a profound request without a piece of my heart breaking off, lost forever to the slowly eroding riverbank of integrity, time and all it's consequences?

Here's the deal. The human soul doesn't want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul's healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

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It's moments like this that I typically fall back on acknowledgement, however in Christopher Spata's story, sits desperate kids, asking for the impossible like a tiny simulacrum of Princess Leia pleading: "Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." And exactly here is where my brother would loudly declare: "Pack your bags, because you're going on a guilt trip."