I must tell you about our adventure today in Macy’s Santaland. I MUST.

Disclaimer: For the full experience, go & read David Sedaris’ Essay “SantaLand Diaries” in the book Holidays on Ice. Only then will you ever be able to truly capture the holiday spirit.

It’s my son’s first Christmas. At 9 months old, he is no more aware of why we go do these things than your average dog. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. So when we arrived at Macy’s he was already wary. Why weren’t we at home? What were those shiny red things in the entrance of Macy’s? And why couldn’t he have one?

Macy's Entrance Decor, aka Overstimulation GO

I should have realized then we were doomed. Grappling past the overanxious perfume pushers just to reach and then cram into the elevators was pretty much all a normal 9 month old could take. Alas, we ascended amongest other babywearers, a double stroller, and blue haired duo to Macys 8th Floor: the realm of Santaland.

Our first encounter with an elf was pleasant. Her name? Twinkles. *giggle* She leaned in as close to my son as possible asking if he was excited to see Santa. Then proceeded to wave her wrists at him, making the bells jangle. His look of “Umm, MOM? WTH wrong with this chick?” was cut short, as I moved us along. Our second elf, whom I unfortunately missed the name of, waved her own bells at him from her hat. She clearly already had the cocktails I should have had.

At this point he was worried. These excited people in loud outfits all looked alike, and made exaggerated gestures towards him. We weren’t letting him get down. Then we walked through a train station tunnel towards a winter wonderland, if you will, of rotating, possessed stuffed animals; some knocked over but still doing their motions, mind you.

I’d say the wary level had racheted to a 4 by this point.

Tunnel to the wonderland. Black Lights? Really?

Still, we pushed on. I mean, this is MACY’S SANTALAND. When I was a kid and asked why the Santa’s at the mall were fake, I was assured by my grandfather that the true Santa only came here since he was so busy.

Plus we aren’t quitters.

Rotating Plushness

On we pushed, past houses and dioramas, a fake ski slope and a mountain of toys. Everything was multicolored; blinking lights on all sides. Not a surface of wall, ceiling, or even guard ropes were vacant, each painted with various scenes from books and Christmas stories.

The child had stopped blinking and was chewing on his hand. Wary remained at 4, with a slight chance of passing out. Until the self appointed prince happy elf was in front of us.

*someone wanted to be on So You Think You Can Dance & ended up here . . . *

In a manner much like the elves in A Christmas Story, he leaned as far into my overexcited and visually overstimulated son as possible and exclaimed “Well how are you?! WHAT ARE YOU ASKING SANTA FOR?”

And the boy lost it. Dial Wary to 6 people.

This wasn’t just an ‘I-have-had-enough’ cry, it was a ‘the-scary-man-is-scaring-me-and-yet-in-my-horror-I-can’t-look-away’ cry. Obviously, Mr.Elf the Broadway Reject took this moment to encourage him to be chipper. “SMILE. YOU GET TO SEE SANTA?!” Luckily we moved along.

Umm . . is that a token bear?

With gyrating bears to bring him back in the present and distract him, he calmed down enough to want to nurse. Of course, by now we were in the snake part of the line. That part where you and your now exposed boob are only separated from strangers by a velvet rope at hip level. Awesome.

So there I was, in a line barely wide enough to hold him in a supine position, him fighting my delicately placed scarf and pulling away just often enough to see that we were, still in fact, in the hallway equivalent of a rave for babies. When the family photo session loomed before us.

The elf which should have been the bouncer to this particular rave, complete with tattoos, gauges and a carefully band-aided nose ring hole, turned to greet us. At last I thought, normality. But he was equally cheery. Leaning in at an alarming angle to see my sons face and ask if he was taking the picture alone or with us. Really?

The power of nursing = Calm

At least the boy was happy and fed. Our family photo ended up being more action shot because he was so excited to hit ground again. Suffice to say, I wasn’t paying an extra $20 for it.

Tinsel, our elf escort into the Santa proper of Santaland, walked backwards waving her glitery mittened hands in my sons face past cottages of various Santas.

Wait. A. Minute. Various Santas you ask? Yes! You couldn’t see the others, just hear a muffled cacophany of children’s cries and parents shouting for their darlings to Look up! Smile honey!

This is where it really got interesting.

Wary is at an 8 at this point. Just to update you. The glittery handed elf didn’t alleviate that numerical score.

Tinsel introduced us to Snowball. Now at first impression Snowball should be my BFF and newest interiors shopping friend, but his elf name should NOT have been Snowball. *giggles all round” The giggles distracting me from what else was happening.

There Santa sat atop a gilded bench in the corner of his personal cottage. I handed him my child, and say “His name is Jude.” Without missing a beat, he replied “I know.”

I instinctively took a step back. You know? Whoa, dial it back a bit buddy. 9 months old there. My husband tells me later he was wondering if and when we had ever mentioned our son’s name, i.e. HOW did he know? Of course we hadn’t, this guy was just in it to win it.

Snowball *giggle again* waved a glitter red snowflake in my child’s face to get him to look at the camera. But I have a smart boy. He knows, the jig is up. I have just handed him to a strange man in a overtly excited kingdom of terror and color – and stepped away. His acid trip was taking a turn for the worse and he knew it.

Screamin' in a Winter Santaland

Wary at 10 people! 10!

He lost it. No more Mister Nice Baby.

As Snowball handed us our ticket, Twinkles, the final and not just uncheery elf, but bored out of his gourd elf, motioned our way out. But Santa didn’t want to unhand him. Santa wanted to prove he could make him smile.

And he didn’t stop screaming until we stepped off the subway train to go home.

But overall it was a success! A picture of him squirming off of the lap of a man refusing to smile, a man hired by Macy’s to be a Santa. The real deal. I can’t wait to go again next year.