'I had not realized how much one can be happy even when the light is out and it is dark. Thank you for being that light.'
Single parents constantly juggle an unimaginable number of responsibilities on any given day. After his wife tragically passed away in 2018, Dakota Nelson was forced to work three jobs to support his seven children, who ranged in age from 1 to 16 at the time. Nelson and his wife Ream lived a devoted life together. But in an instant, the world as they knew it was altered. "We were working in the garage, goofing around and having fun, and I came back and she just was dead on the ground basically," Nelson told the East Idaho News.
Ream arrived at the hospital in severe condition and spent three months in a coma before passing away. Ream's loved ones were devastated by the unfortunate incident and were left to pick up the pieces. Later that year, Nelson and his kids opened a white gift box that would change their lives.
Nelson and his children were left speechless when they received the gift from a Secret Santa in their East Idaho neighborhood who had learned about the awful trauma the family had gone through. The box contained $1,000 in food and $1,000 in Walmart gift cards. However, that wasn't all the anonymous Santa had in store for the family. Nelson became choked up when he was handed an $8000 check to help with the expenses of raising his children. He wiped away his tears and stumbled over his words before posing the question, "Who do I thank?"
While the family still mourned their loved one's passing, their Secret Santa gave them a cause to smile. The grateful widower expressed his thanks to the kindhearted donor in a letter: "It is hard to write this as I am at a total loss for words. There is no way for me to accurately convey how grateful we are for this kindness... I just cannot convey how thankful we are."
Nelson's children also thanked Santa in the letter for gifting them an unforgettable Christmas. After their mother passed away, they never thought they could be happy, but because of the present they got, they experienced new joy and hope. One of his two oldest kids said, "This will probably be my best Christmas ever." Another added, "I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful my family is." Everyone encounters challenges in life, Nelson wrote, "but I had not realized how much one can be happy even when the light is out and it is dark. Thank you for being that light."
Several days after Ream's collapse, a GoFundMe account was set up to support the family through that difficult time in their lives. On the campaign page, the late 38-year-old was described as having "kindness, strength, sense of humor, and love for others." She was coaching her volleyball players as well, the fundraiser said.
Nelson taught Sunday school and part-time seminary at his church after Ream passed away. He expressed his gratitude for the generosity of strangers and said that he will make good use of the Secret Santa funds.
Many individuals expressed their sympathies after reading the family's story online. Users praised the father for his perseverance and strength on behalf of his children. One comment read: "This was heartwarming. At 39, my husband died suddenly, leaving me with six beautiful children ages 2 to 11 to raise. We made it through, and I am grateful to the few people who helped. Dakota Nelson and his children will remember the Secret Santa visit all their lives."