"I'm sharing this to remind us all that Christmastime is unbelievably hard for some families," the Santa captioned his photo.
Even if you're sick of reading about viral Santa stories, this heart-breaker is a must-read.
Caleb Ryan Sigmon, who works as a mall Santa in Georgia, was on duty last week when he said a man named Kyle Daniel approached him holding a picture frame in his arms. "I have a request," Daniel said. "My son passed away, last year." At that, the man choked up and couldn't finish his sentence, and the entire photo set went silent. Without another word, Daniel handed the frame to Sigmon, who placed it on his knee.
In the frame was a photo of Daniel's 6-month-old son, Hayden, taken before he died of a rare heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It was one of Daniel's favorite photos of his son, and he decided to get a picture of the boy with Santa as a gift for his wife.
"The camera snap was the only sound I could hear through the entire mall," Sigmon said. "Normally, I hear all kinds of music and sounds, but it was absolutely silent. After a handful of clicks, we walked over to the screen and he pointed, saying, 'That's the one.' He grabbed my hand and pulled me in and hugged me, then turned around and left. As he walked out, we all had tears in our eyes."
Now the emotional image of Santa holding the framed photo is going viral, after Sigmon posted it to Facebook, along with an important holiday reminder: "I'm sharing this to remind us all that Christmastime is unbelievably hard for some families," he wrote. "Pray for the brokenhearted. Smile at people. Just be kind. Love one another."
Daniel shared Sigmon's post on his son's memorial page, where he thanked Sigmon for taking the photo and making a hard situation easier and urged others to do the same. "We are really surprised about it becoming viral," Daniel told Today. "I think it has touched so many people because of what [Sigmon] did. It was an act of kindness—more people need to be kind to each other."