12/23/13

Santaland: The Big Disappointment


Macy's Santaland: The place I almost lost my faith in NYC and all things merry and bright. I have a picture to remind me never to go back.

The first year I lived in NYC, I took the kids to Macy's Santaland. I remember having fond memories of that place. It felt like the quintessential NYC activity. I think we went twice because I liked it so much. I wanted to get those earnest feelings I had for NYC back again this year because I've been growing impatient with city life lately. I figured if I relived the activities that made me fall in love with the city in the first place, I would stop texting Rob, "I'm so over NYC."

So I insisted on taking the kids again to Macy's Santaland, even if it meant waiting in a 3 hr line. I was going to relive my glory years in the city. Anyway, what better way to spend a Saturday? Forced to be together as a family so we could chat about all sorts of things. And the pay off! A visit with the real Santa.

I tried to stay positive, but the crowds and endless line through the guts of Macy's made it impossible to stay starry eyed about the whole process. All the hallways with gray walls behind the "Employee Only" signs are depressing. Plus the cheerful elves guiding the lines were so patronizing, "Aww! Come on! Smile guys! You're about to meet Santa! Keep it moving kids!" Stop being so Meg Ryan perky. It makes me infuriated.

When we finally got to Santa, he had the weirdest eyes. The scariest I've ever seen. He asked the kids one question, "And what is one thing you would like for Christmas?" and shoved them off. I'm sure the Santas are instructed to only spend 45 seconds with each visit, so it wasn't his fault, but how about one more question Santa? The whole thing felt like a soulless cattle call.

And then I saw the picture the elves took. Oh, wow. These are terrible, I thought. Santa's eyes are freaking me out and his hand is covering Ella's face. I could feel myself about to cry. The whole event was not what I remember about Santaland in years past and the awful picture was validating my whole displeasure with NYC.

The woman dressed in an elf costume was nice enough to explain that we could take the picture again if we wished. I first wanted to know if it would be the same Santa.

"You know, " I whispered, "Because my kids are older and they will know the difference. Is that possible?" I asked her.

And she tells me, "Oh, we only have 1 Santa."

omg.

"No you have like 15. All in those rooms back there. You're kidding me, right?"

"Nope, just 1 Santa!"

Uh. I hate being lied to. It made me want to come clean to my boys right then and there. He's not real! Don't make me ever do this again! I'm sorry for lying to you all these years. There's nothing worse than a liar, even if it is for your own good!

But first, I had to buy the picture. I love how it reflects everything I hate about the city. The crazy people, not enough room, the forced happiness. It almost made me lose hope, until I looked back at the picture I took a few hours before we saw Santa. The wind in my kid's hair, their command of the sidewalk, and seriousness of it all. It's everything I love about the city. It totally restores my faith in NYC and all things merry and bright. I can live here a little longer if it means more moments like these:



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21 comments:

  1. sharon,

    i absolutely love this post. i'm glad you had a good experience at santaland once, but you have to know that that place blows! i laughed out loud looking at weird santa's eyes. the picture of your kids on the sidewalk is the best. i know it can be frustrating here sometimes, but i truly feel that bringing up my girls in nyc (age 6 and 8 y/o) is a gift. happy holidays and wishing you all the best in the new year!

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  2. Don't you usually take the kids to that other store, the one where he actually posted a comment on your blog last year? Anyways no matter where you live there are good days and days when you just want to get away. Having a vacation to look forward to helps, can't wait to see you again!! :)

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  3. P.S. That Santa really is horrible. With all the money Macy's brings in this time of year, they couldn't have hired one with a real beard? Write them a letter, things don't change unless people speak up. Send them a copy of this picture as proof, eek.

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  4. The city can definitely wear you down. You sound exactly how I felt before we moved. I noticed taking a break from the city would renew my love for it. Maybe it's time for a little trip away? The city is a funny place; I know several people that have/had a love/hate relationship with it.

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  5. Oh man, memories of my childhood, my mum actually pulled us out of school to do santa WAY early, and still the queues were bad.

    If it makes you feel better, the hand thing is a protocol apparently, santa's hand must be visible in all photos, just to avoid any awk situations, so there you go.

    Merry Christmas!

    www.mindfulgrateful.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Haha I didn't know that. Makes sense though :)

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  6. That is a terrible Santa! With crazy eyes! You'll laugh at that picture forever. One year, my sister went on and on about the narcoleptic Santa at our mall. She said he closed his eyes and dozed off. I said, what are you talking about, I have a picture with him and it's fine. So I went to look at it, and sure enough his chin was tucked down and his eyes were closed! I can't believe I didn't notice it before, but my kids were probably screaming while I was picking out the picture and trying to pay. Ahh, Christmas memories :)

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  7. You're right, that Santa's eyes are insane! Hahaha, are Oscar and Owen wearing one each of two different pair of shoes?

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    1. Hahaha....good eye to detail!:)

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    2. Haha yes. My husband did that--he's colorblind. He can't tell those shoes are different colors. Haha usually I correct his mistakes, but didn't notice until we were walking out of macys.

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  8. Too bad you couldn't get a cool picture of Santa walking down the street with your kids.....maybe that would be a bad idea...(Santa bum?).
    ~C

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  9. The sidewalk picture is the essence of cool. They look like little fashion models! Don't give up, one day you will miss the city and its sparkle. Take it all in! And one day you will have this funny story to tell about the santa with the crazy eyes!

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  10. I love the picture! It's wayy better than if Santa had been "normal" !! That's what makes Santa pics so fun.

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  11. Thank you for an absolutely refreshing read
    Santa's eyes are somewhat over done with the look factor. They are probably stuck that way from forcing a happy face for so many hours. Poor guy.

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  12. Um, yeah - everyone knows there are different tiers of Santa's. I cannot believe Macy's would have this guy! The "good" mall in my city has an amazing Santa. Rumor is he makes $50K, which is noooooot bad for a month or two out of his year. Macy's needs to step up their game.

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  13. Laughing sooo hard! Yes sometimes I am just done with this city -- but when I go get my fix back home in the Northwest and then come back to NYC, I seem to be in love again. It's hard to explain this love hate I feel for the city to anyone who doesn't live here.

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  14. I fell in love with NYC during my senior year in high school, and I ended up going to college, graduate school, working and living there for 12 years. I never thought I could move away and live anywhere else. I do. But, I miss the city each and every time I visit. Enjoy whatever time the city and you have together.

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  15. Love it. Have you heard the essay "Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris? It's based on his experience as a Macy's Santaland elf. It's hilarious to hear a cynical elf's perspective of the mayhem.

    It's here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/47/christmas-and-commerce?act=1

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    Replies
    1. Ditto this. It's a must-listen. Even now that the holidays are behind us.

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  16. oh my goodness, that SANTA! he's crazy! your kids more than make up for it with their beauty ;)

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