Nate's Hanukkah list

Jeff Katz


Nate isn’t one for surprises. He likes what he likes and that’s that. So when it comes time for his birthday, or Hanukkah, he types up a list of what he wants and we order it. The package gets delivered, he files his new stuff away with little to no fanfare and it’s over almost before it begins.

His holiday list this year was the usual assortment of DVDs and books, along with the newest edition of Wacky Packages cards, Series 7. He loves those spoofs, and talks about them all (especially “Bambo,” a Stallone-ified Bambi). The book list was another batch of Kathy Ross craft books.

I touched on Nate’s obsession with Ross in “Treasure Trove” back in August, but as I scanned the titles he requested I felt the need to revisit the moment where Nate first reached out to another person.

On September 17, 2002, Karen and I sat at the computer and saw an email from Kathy Ross to us. “Hi there!” she wrote. “I’m having a little trouble following your email.” She went on to talk about a new St. Patrick’s Day themed volume, and wished Nate well in his school year.

We were confused. Why was Kathy Ross writing to us? How did she know about Nate? Then we scrolled down to see a shocking sight; Nate had emailed her first! He frequently visited her website and stumbled upon her email address. At 12 years old, Nate finally found a person he felt compelled to talk to.

He’d written the day before, with a long list of Ross’ book titles and individual crafts. After a confusing litany of facts, Nate signed off with this: “A few days later, I didn’t get Crafts for Thanksgiving, and so I did, and it was here, and I looked at the book.” Cryptic, to say the least, for someone who didn’t know Nate.

Karen wrote back, explaining who Nate was, touching on his autism and hyperlexia, thanking Ross for her books and describing Nate’s room, which swarmed with crafts he’d made.

That was 8 years ago and, watching Nate now, and thinking back to then, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Courtesy of Mission of Complex


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