Experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child can be heart warming.

Watching their eyes light up at the sight of Santa, presents and other holiday goodies often makes one smile, but Christmas through the eyes of a child who is blind gives the expression a new meaning.

Each year, the Walsh family comes in from Richmond to ride the Victorian Christmas Train.

“It’s just so magical,” Kathy Walsh said. “We love it because of the wonderful experience and Will (Walsh) loves the train.”

Will Walsh, a second grader, is legally blind and experiences the joys of Christmas through sounds and touch.

“I can’t wait to come to Palestine and see the train,” Will Walsh said. “I love to hear the carolers and the music on the train and I love the hot chocolate and cookies.”

Will Walsh sits and listens to all the sounds — like sighted children would stare in wonder at all the decorations.

“I like to here the chug, chug of the train and I love the sound of the release,” Will Walsh said. “I also like the whistles and can tell what each blast means.”

Will Walsh is a train buff and can distinguish the different trains by their whistles according to his parents

After their first visit two years ago, Will Walsh asked his parents if he could write a letter to Santa and hand deliver it to him when they go to ride the train.

“This was meant as a gesture,” Kathy Walsh said. “He, just like any other child, wanted to write a letter to Santa and hand deliver it.”

But, Will Walsh’s letter was special.

Typed in Braille the letter was presented to Santa as they disembarked from the train last year.

The Walsh family was not prepared for the events that followed — the simple act of giving a letter to Santa.

“Will was very insistent that I not translate the letter for Santa,” Kathy Walsh said. “When Will gave him the letter we were very touched by his emotional response to receiving the letter. It was such a heart-felt thing, and just so amazing.”

Santa, portrayed by Al Watlington for the Christmas train, took it upon himself to have the letter translated.

“When he handed the letter to me I knew immediately what it was, and started to cry,” Watlington said. “After I had the letter translated, which was a year-long process, I read it over and over.”

During each reading, Watlington did not see the child’s name nor what he wanted for Christmas, because he was overwhelmed by the thoughtful gesture.

Then as he held the translation in his hand and running his fingers over the Braille letters, he found the child’s name and gift request.

“I believe a Christmas Angel led me to that,” Watlington said. “And with the help of the ‘Angel’ at the CVB, Heather (Hrebec) I was able to get in contact with the family to arrange a special meeting to present the gift to Will.”

Watlington searched high and low for the dancing pony music box he asked for.

Will Walsh said he wanted one after a classmate received one for her birthday and brought it with her on the bus.

“I liked the sounds it made and the way it felt when the pony danced,” Will said.

The magic of giving will take place when the Walsh family makes their third annual trip to Palestine to ride the train.

The Victorian Christmas Train Ride will take place Dec. 10 and 17.

Reservations are required and can be made at the Palestine Convention and Visitors Bureau by calling 903-732-3014.