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."
"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: