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Santa's best year yet? See 7 times the big guy has already amazed us

Santa didn't wait for the big day to impress us this year: He's been busy giving out early gifts, in the form of some truly amazing moments.
/ Source: TODAY

Traditionally, Christmas morning is when Santa really shines — when children all over the world realize he's paid them a visit overnight, leaving festive proof under the tree.

But he didn't wait for the big day to impress us this year: Saint Nick has been busy giving out early gifts in the form of some truly amazing moments.

Donnie's Daddy Daycare/Facebook, lala19957/ Instagram

Check out his 2015 highlights (so far):

1.He knows how to speak to kids.

When Santa realized one little girl who visited him at a mall in England had a difficult time communicating out loud, he asked her mom if she knew sign language.

As it turned out, she did. And since Santa did too, the girl opened up and found an unexpected friend in the jolly old elf.

"People were crying in the crowd," mall manager Graeme Skillen said. "Members of our security staff were almost crying. It was just an amazing moment."

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2. He gets on their level.

Just take a look at how Santa didn't let a little thing like the usual lap-sitting routine get in his way when one boy with autism came to see him in North Carolina.

Santa got down on the floor and made sure that 6-year-old Brayden was comfortable — and that Brayden's parents were happy, too.

"Now we can have an actual Christmas picture, and our son feels safe," his mother explained. "He's not forced into it. He's not all dressed up in fancy clothes, being put on a strange man's lap and told to say cheese. It's him literally being himself, and Santa getting on his level and accommodating him, rather than the other way around."

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3. He knows one size doesn't fit all.

The fact is, each child who visits Santa at one of his many mall stops across the map is unique, and so Santa has a unique approach for each of them.

That's why when another 6-year-old boy with autism stopped by a mall in Michigan to meet the jolly fellow, Santa knew what he needed most was a little reassurance.

"This stranger in a red suit told my son the same message I've been trying to get through to him for a while now — that he's special and I love him just the way he was made," the boy's mother told TODAY. "Seeing Landon's face light up in that moment was just incredible. I couldn't stop crying."

4. He's OK with sleeping on the job.

Santa's a busy man, so when a sleeping tot pays him a visit, he doesn't wake the tyke. Instead, he takes the opportunity to grab a little shuteye himself.

Or at least he seems to.

Santa cuddles with Ryland at the mall.Samantha Wade

Ryland, a 2-year-old left exhausted after an epileptic seizure, didn't have the energy for a bright-eyed photo with Santa at an Ohio mall. And that was just fine.

"I was thankful that Santa actually went along with what Ryland was doing," Ryland's mom said of the photo op. "Santa went with the flow. It was perfect."

5. After all, Santa's had a long day too.

It was much the same scene in Indiana, as a snoozing 6-month-old named Zeke nodded off while waiting to meet the star of the season.

Zeke's parents considered waking the boy, but Santa had a better — and much cuter — idea.

"He is fantastic," the baby's father told TODAY after the sleepy Santa encounter. "It's obvious he totally loves what he does."

6. He gives kids what they ask for

Most kids come to the mall to meet Santa with one thing in mind: sharing their wish lists of toys and treasures.

But 4-year-old Prestyn Barnette had another request of Santa when they came face-to-face in South Carolina. He asked Saint Nick to pray for a baby named Knox — an infant fighting for his life, whom the boy had never even met before.

Santa, of course, obliged.

Prestyn learned about the baby in need from his grandmother, who participates in a prayer group. And thanks to his very special photo with Santa, the prayers for Knox keep coming.

"It's amazing to see the response," Prestyn's aunt, who shared the shot on Instagram, told TODAY. "It was completely unexpected. And it is such a blessing to see so many people praying for baby Knox!"

7. He even gives them what they never expected to get.

When 6-year-old Jordynn told Santa about her very biggest wish, she knew it was a long shot.

"I want my daddy to come home," she said during her visit to a Tennessee mall.

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Jordynn's father had been deployed to Afghanistan 10 months earlier, but what she didn't know was that he'd returned home that morning. And Santa had one heck of a surprise ready for her.

"Daddy!" she exclaimed before running into her father's arms.

Next on her hug list? Santa himself.

We can't wait to see what else the man in red has up his fur-trimmed sleeve before Christmas Day!

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.