As Christmas quickly approaches my six-year-old son’s list just keeps growing.  He’ll pause the TV, come running into the living room and scream, “Add this to my Christmas list!”.  Oh how I had forgotten the power of a clever commercial come December.

My five-year-old son Dane’s list has stayed, for the most part, relatively short.  He has cerebral palsy, which limits the use of his hands and has kept him from walking since birth.  On the bright side, his wants are incredibly simple, but cerebral.  He’s on constant watch for the latest and greatest IPod app and has requested the occasional video game, preferring to sit out while watching his family play, squealing with delight.

But this year Dane actually requested a toy – an honest to goodness toy!  His grandmother (Grandy) and I were thrilled to be able to finally indulge him in something slightly more tangible.  He had once requested a ‘Dream Light Pillow’ so when he asked for a ‘Dream Maker’ we assumed they must somehow be related.

Dane has had a tough year.  He went through three major surgeries to insert a mechanical pump that, at first, changed his life for the better.  He gained what we coined ‘super powers’ through a muscle relaxer that the pump streamed through his body.  Unfortunately, his body rejected the pump and we were forced to remove it, super powers and all.

Dane was devastated but happy to be done with the constant doctors appointments.  After all, he was in kindergarten now and couldn’t be expected to miss one more day of gym class.  The PE teacher had given him a swimming pool ‘noodle’ to tag the other kids as his aide zoomed him around the room and Dane couldn’t wait to be ‘it’.

So off his Grandy and I went on a relentless search for a Dream Maker, the holy grail of Dane’s holidays.  Time after time we asked Dane to describe this toy to us but he just couldn’t put it into words.  We told him to call us when the commercial came on, but he explained that there was no commercial.  We were stumped.  We googled, we asked around, we searched the shelves of every department store in town – no Dream Maker.

At my wits end, Dane and Jett came rolling through the door from school and I said, “Dane, can you pleeease explain to me what the Dream Maker is.”

Jett lit up.  “I know what it is!”

“Great”, I said.  “Can you please explain it to me.”

“It’s a machine they created on Johnny Quest.  You can have anything you want.  It can make your dreams come true.”

Dane’s face shone bright with the reassurance that we would certainly be able to find his Dream Maker now.

My heart hit my throat.  This incredibly bright boy, wise beyond his years, was really just a typical little boy after all.  He had put all his hopes in the Dream Maker to regain his super powers.  I knew telling him the truth would be devastating.  Figured I outta throw Santa Claus under the bus and get the whole ‘crushing of their innocence’ thing over with one fell swoop.

I looked into my baby boy’s eyes and saw that he was already beginning to understand.  Crocodile tears teetered precariously atop his long, black lashes and his bottom lip began to protrude.  I wanted to be six again and tell him that Santa would find it for sure, but I’m forty, and he already knows too much.

“Daney,” I said, “You know that Johnny Test is just a cartoon honey.  There is no such thing as a Dream Maker Machine.”

The tears fell – and fell hard.  Even Jett stopped dead in his tracks.

“No one has to make a Dream Maker,” I explained.  “We all have one in our hearts and in our minds.  You don’t need to put that on a Christmas list.  Your Dream Maker is with you everywhere you go.”

Unfazed, Jett shouted,  “I’ll make him a Dream Maker!”

Dane’s face began to beam once again.  I took a moment to choke back tears of my own.

“That’s a great idea Jett,” I said watching Dane’s light shine even brighter still.

I opened my mouth to explain things further but couldn’t bring myself to make it crystal clear.  There was no need to burst his bubble any more than it already had been.  Let him believe that his big brother could conjure up a machine that grants wishes.  A little blind faith can go a long way in physical therapy and Dane had a long way to go.

With love and support, we will continue to reassure Dane that his power truly lies in his personal strength.  If he occasionally puts that power in the hands of his brother, a Dream Maker or the spirit of the holidays then so be it.  He bore the brunt of a year’s worth of exhaustive effort and if he wants to believe that there are forces that can help make dreams come true, I say let him.  After all, it’s Christmas and my wish is for

more of us to see through Dane’s eyes.