Grandmother With Dementia Still Visits Santa Every Year

Karen meets with Santa.
The Hartsocks' Photography

Karen Rangel's love of Santa Claus started when her children were young.

A grandmother’s dementia isn’t stopping her from visiting Santa Claus, thanks to help from her family.

Karen Rangel’s love of Santa Claus started when her children were young. Karen’s son, Steve Rangel, said she would take them every year to take pictures with St. Nick.

”It continued even as we were in our teens,” he told

Even when her children grew up and moved out of the house, Karen continued to take the pictures alone.

“She would still send us a picture with her and Santa Claus each year,” her son said.

Courtesy Rangel Family
Courtesy Rangel Family
Courtesy Rangel Family
Courtesy Rangel Family

Rangel said his mother just loves everything that Santa represents — family, love, and joy.

Karen, who is in the last stages of dementia, wasn’t able to show her excitement at this year’s visit, but Rangel said he knows it was important to her. The trip was gifted to her by her granddaughter this year, and the entire family was there for the visit on Dec. 9.

The Hartsocks' Photography shared images of the meeting on Facebook. 

The Hartsocks' Photography

"She told him that she loves him and remembers visiting him before," they wrote. "It couldn't have possibly been more special. Every time Santa he got close to her, she would nuzzle in and close her eyes as if there was no place she would rather be. It was so sweet and emotional for Santa and our whole staff."

Santa shed a tear when she left, the photographers wrote. "Everyone instantly fell in love with Karen," they added.

Her son said the visit was heartwarming for the family.

“I believe she did respond in the best way she could," he said. "It did mean something to her and she did receive joy and happiness although she may not have been able to articulate it."

The family is counting their blessings and the moments they have with Karen as she has recently entered hospice care.

“Our heart goes out to all family members that are going through the same situations we are. Don’t dwell on the things you don’t have, count the thing you do have,” Rangel added.