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What to do with a grumpy Santa

Family can roughly be defined as the people you are together with when you're having a miserable time. So yesterday was a wonderful day for family.

Who goes to Macy's on a Wednesday? Better yet, who are all these children who aren't in school?

The fun started even before that, however, with getting to listen in on a phone call from a woman on the L to her doctor...apparently she needed extra anxiety medication to get her by until her appointment. She'd found her dead father in the basement and it's a stressful situation. Really, that's the call you make from the train?

The elevators were clogged. The aisles were clogged. We went straight up to the 5th floor Santa Land only to be met with a snaking line through the displays of moving bears, buttons to push, and whirling Christmas displays. Last Christmas we waited in line less than 10 minutes, I think. This Christmas, it was over an hour.

Bless his heart, Cole made it through about 45 minutes on bunny grahams, making mechanical dolls twirl, and touching anything we would let him. But by the time we hit the red curtain and the first of the elves who would guide us to Santa, it was a lost cause. He was hungry; he was tired; he wanted to not be stuck being held by dad.

He took one look at the poor excuse for Kris Kringle and had a full meltdown. I don't blame him. The dude had no personality. I said, "hi Santa, this is Cole" expecting a jolly "ho, ho, ho" in return and a few pleasant "Merry Christmas" tidings. What we got was a grumbly, quiet, stone-faced Santa who grudgingly let the boy sit on his lap but had a look of panic on his face.

Really? You're one of the Macy's Santas and you can't deal with a screaming 18 month old? Look, I know it's a tough job. But thank goodness my son had no clue who you are or why we were there. Because if he was 5 or 7 and had ASKED to see the fat man expecting jingle bells and "what do you want for Christmas" I'd have slugged you in the face.

Clearly there was a mixed bag, too. We asked a few people coming down the exit (we stopped to feed Leda on a bench) how their experience was and we got a few wonderfuls. But we also overhead, "I can see it now, Macy's fires Santa." Is he the only guy who passed the background check and would work on a weekday? My issue with it is that we waited in line an hour so the least you could do is make an effort. We weren't expecting you to wait around until he calmed down even. Ask if we want a photo anyway? Try to talk to him and say hello, be a good boy, ask how old he is. You're Santa Claus for goodness sake! In Macy's defense, the elves were mostly happy and polite.

So no picture of Cole. Got a good one of Leda with her head up making a silly face. Santa holding her awkwardly.

The funny thing is I remember going to see Santa when I was a kid and I hated it. The anxiety and stress and weirdness of sitting on a stranger's lap. So we've gotten photos of both kids for their first Christmas with Santa now. I doubt we'll be going back again unless one of them asks in the future.

Why, I asked myself post-Bad Santa, would I subject my own children to something I myself hated?

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