IN MIRACLE ON 34th Street Mr. Gailey took Susan to see Santa
Mr. Gailey waiting to see the Macy’s Santa with Megan and the other
children and parents who had lined up five days before Christmas. But
of course Megan had seen Santa in their town already. Mary thought
the traditional Macy’s Santa visit wasn’t necessary. But their house
had become a street corner in New York, with twin jackhammers
shaking the walls and floors daily. The wheel barrels of fallen cement
and bricks had grown into a pile in their backyard. Men pounded away
in the attic, putting rebar under the roof to support the load limit his
father had specified, and added their hammers to the madness of the
home. Dust covered all.
George suggested they go downtown to see the Macy’s Santa, but
Mary had a cold and stayed behind. So George had taken Megan down
on the train and had to admit to a double motive in going to see the
Macy’s Santa. He wanted Megan to see Santa, but he also wanted to
ask the big man if there were any special things he should know. He
had spent the night before in chat rooms of Santas who sparred over
who manufactured a better suit and how to really produce a gusty
O HO HO. Some of the Santas became vitriolic.
Take your fake beard and padded stomach and go find some Walgre o fleece kids with your bullshit, one poster known as Santaman
Eat reindeer shit and die, Yo Santa responded.
George was looking for a pearl of Santa wisdom. He liked that
Santa had started out as this benevolent soul in Italy who tossed bags
of gold down chimneys to luckless girls without dowries. St. Nick
had evolved then as a saint who brought gifts to the poor. Of course
the American version was a marketer’s dream, but George wanted
to return to the benevolence of that original Santa Claus. The Santa
wannabees on the Internet were not inspiring.
… Just eat the cookies and drink the milk … throw some horse
manure around the yard and tell your kid it is reindeer turds …
… Just tell every kid they will get exactly what they want … that
will hold the little shits and you can get through your shift without
some kid going wacko …
… Secret to Santa? You tell me. I have been freezing my balls off
in these shopping malls for minimum wage for years. The only secret
to being Santa Claus is that if you can get another job, then take it!
So he had decided to go see Macy’s Santa in Chicago. The line
snaking back through the store had been moving along for the last
hour. Megan stood like Natalie Wood with her muff, patiently staring
ahead as they entered Santa’s village with giant ornaments and
candy canes and twentysomething elves telling everyone to get their
credit card ready.
“I know this isn’t the real Santa,” Megan whispered, in her fluffy
white coat, blue eyes drawn together.
“How do you know that?”
“Because, the real Santa is in the North Pole getting ready to
come to my house, and this is just one of his surrogates.”
George nodded slowly. “Ah … a surrogate. I didn’t think of that
Megan stared ahead.
“Oh, yes. Santa has lots of surrogates to go to all these stores, and
they report back what kids want.”
“I see …”
George felt his phone vibrate.
He stepped away from Megan.
Everything going as planned?”
“Nothing to worry about, mate. We have the digital projectors
ready and the necessary smoke machines and snow machines ready
to go. I’ve had to secure some special lighting and that has cost a
pretty penny, but all is under control. My carpenters are working on
your ramps, and we will all be ready to film on the twenty-fourth.”
“But I need to film you with your reindeer and in your Santy suit
in the sled so I can project that onto the scrim and make your little
one believe Santa is flying. And we only have four days, mate, so we
better get it done ASAP!”
“Alright, let’s try for tomorrow out at the reindeer farm. He said
he had a sled I could use, so this could be a good dry run.”
“STUPENDOUS! Now, you have your Santy suit ready?”
“EBay … just delivered today in fact.”
“Stupendous, mate! Shoot me a text with the address, and I’ll
bring me crew out and we’ll shoot you on the sled and we’ll be ready
for the big day where you become Santa Claus and I get my movie!”
“Oh, listen, mate. Going to need some more greenbacks. I have
to pay these carpenters, and I’ve had to hire some gaffers and grips
to handle the construction at the set, so maybe you better bring your
George saw they were coming to Santa’s house.
“How much are we talking?”
“Better make it ten, mate. Those union carpenters are a bit pricey,
George reeled back. Another ten thousand dollars! He would
have to break into his 401(k). There was no other way. The credit
line was toast.
“Dean,” he whispered fiercely, “do we need all these people you
“Mate, I am a director, and we need people who can run these
projectors and we need the proper lighting or we won’t see a flipping
thing up there on the roof. Trust me, mate, if you want this thing
to come together for the little one, you need the proper people and
“We’re almost there, Daddy,” Megan sang out, jumping up and
George stared at her, keeping the phone pressed to his ear.
“Daddy. We are almost there, Daddy!”
“I’ll bring the money with me,” he said.
“STUPENDOUS! Alright, mate, shoot me that address, and I’ll
see you out at the farm!”
George put his phone away as they entered Santa’s home. He had
mentioned in the Santa.com chat room that he was going to see the
Macy’s Santa, and several Santas had told him that Macy’s was the
premiere Santa gig.
George examined Santa and admired his bright red suit, shiny
black boots, and his red velvet throne. His beard shone brightly and
his HO HO HO was deep and baritone. His cheeks glowed red and his
spectacles were prisms of Christmas ice. Here was the Elvis of Santa
Clauses. He held the children lightly on his knee and laughed and
rumbled and shook before he smiled for the camera. Megan squealed.
“It’s our turn, Daddy!”
He let Megan go as she climbed into the big man’s lap. George
stood back and watched while his daughter whispered into Santa’s
ear and he exploded with a HO HO HO that shook the windowpanes.
George gave his credit card to a blonde elf who swiped it as the camera
blinked three fast shots, and then Megan jumped off his lap.
“He was a great Santa, Daddy,” Megan gushed.
“That’s fantastic, honey.”
“Sir, you can wait for your pictures in that room,” an Asian elf
told him with a hint of a lisp.
George hesitated. “Ah … I’d like to speak to Santa for a moment,”
The Asian elf with heavy makeup frowned.
“Sir, that is not possible,” he said, planting a hand on his hip.
George flipped out a twenty.
“Just give me a moment, alright, bud?” The elf took the money.
“You have one minute.”
George walked into the high-intensity lights.
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?” he said, leaning close to
the Macy’s Santa.
The eyes behind the glasses lost their gleam, and the voice lowered.
“Little old for Santa, don’t you think?”
George laughed lightly.
“Ah, no, no … I just have a question for you about being Santa.”
“What can I do for you, sir?”
“Well … I’m going to be Santa for my little girl on Christmas
Eve,” George began. “I’m going to land the sled on the roof and do
the whole chimney thing.”
Santa’s brow furrowed as he looked sideways.
“What are you, crazy? You’ll kill yourself.”
George smiled, seeing his daughter watching him.
“I have it all set up with the reindeer and everything, but my question
is, do you have any special insider tips to being Santa? Anything
I should know about?”
“Get your life insurance policy paid up before you go up on that
“Sir, your time is up,” the Asian elf sang behind him. “Other people
want to see Santa too.”
George turned back to the Santa leaning back in his chair.
“You’re really going to go up on the roof with a sled and go down
“Yes. They are jack hammering my chimney so I can fit, and I
have ramps for the reindeer being built to go on and off the roof.”
The Macy’s Santa shook his head and leaned back on his throne.
“Why are you doing this?”
“My daughter is doubting Santa, and I still want her to believe.”
“Alright, your funeral,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t have any advice
for you, but Google a guy named Kris Kringgle—with two g’s. He
might be the one you want to talk to.”
George nodded slowly. “Who is he?”
The Macy’s Santa shrugged and motioned to the next child.
“Just another wacko who believes he’s Santa.”