It's been 6 months, 3 weeks, and about a day and a half since my departure from Santa Land at Macy's Herald Square in New York City - er - I mean, The North Pole. The reason I applied for and ultimately accepted the job (after an initial mistakenly-sent rejection letter) is because of David Sedaris. (Much like the reason I trekked to a store somewhere in another part of the city during this time was because of his sister.) I've tended to always want to find myself in the people (real or fake) I see on television or in books or films. I've wanted to be all manner of things When I Grow Up because maybe Amy Adams played a crime scene cleaner in a movie or because baking pies and solving crimes using your powers to bring people back from the dead for a minute seemed fun or even because an author was crazy once. (I very much wanted to be crazy as an adult and, luckily, I think this wish came true.) But because of Santaland Diaries - full stop - I wanted to fill my favorite author's pointy shoes (we didn't wear pointy shoes) and see if I might have an experience like his. And, truthfully, I can't really remember if I did!
Though I kept a meticulous account of my tenure with Santa and his elves (and the Mrs.! (but only on weekends)) throughout my time there, these notes have been lost to time. Or, more likely, I typed random things to myself in an email to myself and, myself, an idiot, after many months of doing nothing with those notes, deleted them. And, as we all know through our Gmail accounts, "messages that have been in Trash more than 30 days will be automatically deleted." Gmail is a harsh friend. The dirt I can remember, I can't tell you (I've been feeling the magnetic pull of the Pole and think I might, if they'll have me, try my hand at Elfing again this upcoming holiday season); maybe, in a year from now, if I don't delete my future notes, I'll have a more in-depth exposé on the seedy underbelly of the third happiest place on earth (the first, of course, being Disney World and the second being bed). What I can remember that isn't dirt, is that I don't and never did know the real names of any of my coworkers (aside from my now-Internet-friend Lauren - What's up, Juniper!) and that, despite long days, impatient "guests," and the frenzy that you can encounter at any given time during any given shift, everyelf and every Santa (jk, "there's only one True Santa!") and every manager really, really, really, really, really, rrrrreeeeeaaaallllllyyyyyyyyy loves Christmas. And it's debilitatingly contagious.
I've always liked Christmas just fine. Probably more so as a child (before my parents' divorce, we'd all hop in the car and drive around town to look at the house lights and lawn decorations, and every Christmas Eve, my family would get together with the ever-extending family on my mother's side and all of the grownups would give all of the children all of the presents), but as an adult, I saw Elf in theaters three times, I usually have all of my shopping done by November (after spending all of late summer adding potential gifts to bookmark folders named for each family member and friend I'm buying for that year, and then all of early fall buying those gifts), and the lights and decorations and songs and mood are just fucking great, man. I love Christmas! But when you work at Christmas, and only know everyone around you by their elf name (or "Santa"), and you look like this, and every morning meeting of every shift ends with you having to scream "Merry Christmas!" at the top of your lungs in unison with the aspiring actors and Bronx Zoo employees who work alongside you, you come to realize, after typing all of this, that, when you really think about it, you might've actually been in a little bit of a cult for a month.