How one little girl’s Christmas wish changed Santa forever
LAST Christmas, Heidi Daniel had just one wish for Santa: 'Give my dad a big hug'.
The 10-year-old girl was coming to terms with the recent death of her father and having to spend her first Christmas without him.
Greg Daniel died on January 18, 2018 after picking up an infection from an operation for rheumatoid arthritis.
Heidi didn't want toys, she just wanted to know her dad in heaven was okay and said to Santa 'can you give my dad a big hug from me … all I want for Christmas is my dad to know I want to give him a big hug'.
Her heartbreaking story went viral after it was shared on Facebook and featured in the Townsville Bulletin - and 12 months later, Heidi visited Santa again for an emotional reunion.
The little girl's words that day at Castletown had such a profound impact on Santa, he said it changed him forever.
"My oath it affected me, every time I think about it I get emotional," Santa told the Bulletin this week after the reunion.
"I've never had an experience like that before."
It was Christmas tradition that Heidi's dad took her to get Santa photos every year, and this year Heidi's wish remained the same.
"I said to her 'well actually I gave him your hug last year and he told me to give you a hug this year'," Santa said.
"I said just remember your daddy is watching over you the whole time and your daddy loves you.
"She was so happy and amazed that her daddy knew."
Heidi said she couldn't wait to see Santa again and had been counting down all year to make her special wish once again.
"I just want my dad to know that I love him," Heidi said.
"I closed my eyes when I got a hug from Santa and it felt like it was my dad hugging me."