Santa Claus just gave a deaf six-year-old girl the best present she could ever receive by going through her Christmas wish list in sign language.
Tilly Morton-Cairns was surprised when Santa and Mrs. Claus used their hands to communicate with her at Metrocentre. The Christmas couple went over the young girl’s wish list, which included some Frozen-inspired toys and a turtle, leaving Tilly smiling from ear to ear.
The once-in-a-lifetime encounter, which lasted for three minutes, was filmed by Tilly’s mom, Hayley Cairns. She said, “It was absolutely magical. Santa was brilliant with her, and I’ve never seen anything like that for deaf kids before.”
“Tilly has been profoundly deaf for most of her life because of an infection called cytomegalovirus (CMV). She was born hearing but over the years her hearing has all but disappeared,” she explained. “She got cochlear implants three years ago, which means she can hear a tiny bit, but she’s been learning British Sign Language and school and is getting quite good”
Apparently, Santa knew she was deaf. Hayley shared how her child and Santa talked in sign language about the things that keep his reindeer busy and what their plans are for Christmas.
“He also told her that she had to be a good girl or he wouldn’t leave any presents on Christmas Day. They had a good long chat about Frozen too, which made her very happy,” she continued. “She didn’t even want to go in the first place because she finds it difficult to lip-read with Santa’s beard in the way. But I’d never seen a signing Santa in this country before, so I made sure I dragged her down. I was bubbling up as I filmed it.”
Since she lost her sense of hearing at the age of two, Tilly has been taking sign language classes with specially trained tutors. After the encounter, it seemed her confidence boosted.
Hayley narrated, “Because of the communication problem she’s had difficulty in the past enjoying visits to Santa, but this time we went straight to the grotto and it was brilliant. Her grandma couldn’t make it so I took a video but I never knew how lovely it would be.”
“It was an incredible experience for her, and she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. She thinks Santa is brilliant,” said Hayley.
But it seems that Santa wasn’t the only one who’s willing to learn sign language to make a difference in the lives of others. The staff at the shopping center also joined Santa in a sign language training course so they could properly attend to the needs of their young visitors with hearing disabilities.
Marketing manager of the store, Helen Atkinson, reasoned, “We wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to enjoy our Christmas program and that children with hearing problems would be able to join in the fun too.”