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SantaFor all the kids knew, they boarded a Delta Boeing 757 in Detroit and after about an hour, landed at the North Pole. They believed. As did the elves on board. And the clowns who made the balloon hats. Even the Delta flight attendants. The captain twice reminded his special passengers not to peek through the window shades, for the secret route could never be revealed, reports a recent article on mydesert.com describing the trip.

Once the magical jet came to a stop, the door was flung open to reveal an indoor terminal, where Santa Claus was waiting inside. Resplendent in white beard and red suit, Santa knelt on one knee, with cheeks very rosy, and opened his arms to the disembarking children, who greeted him one by one. As the article describes, “Some kids had fresh faces and quick legs that brought them to him in a hurry. Others had weary eyes or sunken cheeks or thinning hair, or all of these. Many have life-threatening illnesses such as leukemia, which can dim the light of childhood and, sometimes, snuff it out. Some of the kids are in remission. Some are struggling. On this day, though, after a remarkably smooth flight from metro Detroit, the children were at the North Pole. They believed.”

A group of retired flight attendants called the Silverliners, with the help of Delta Air Lines, invited 47 children on this annual trip, as they’ve done for over 25 years. The kids come from hospitals in southeast Michigan, and most were accompanied by their parents.

As each child approached, Santa greeted them like he knew them: “Oh, my goodness, look who’s here.” Some ran to him unabashedly, others were wary. All left with beaming smiles. A man carried one young girl in his arms, then helped her stand next to Santa. Treatment, presumably, had taken her hair, and she stood on thin, trembling legs. Santa spoke to her softly.

After each child had their time with Santa, he and the elves, clowns and several volunteers took them all to a large room where they posed for photographs and enjoyed fudge. A magician entertained with tricks, including one with a snow-white bunny. Each child left with a large bag heavy with stuffed animals, board games and special surprises.

Amidst lives weighted down with illness and treatment and hospitals, this enchanted day was a welcome respite, full of wonder and magic and Santa himself. All you had to do was believe.

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