Santaland Diaries

My first job in New York City was at Macy’s. That was 1997.  I had just moved here. A good friend of mine from college was working in HR. She got me placed at the Chanel counter. I made more money in that 8 week stint than I ever have in a 2 month period before or since. Thousands of little old ladies fresh off the tour bus bought their No. 5 from me and I made a 20% commission. If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.

Our Chanel district manager would sweep in every few days in yet another full length fur. I don’t remember her name, something Eastern European, but she made an enduring impression. She was 5 feet tall. And the most perfectly groomed human I’d ever met. In a cloud of perfume, flawless makeup and a french twist she’d inspect my fingernails. “A gentleman who sells Chanel must never bite his nails.” And I never did again. Another bonus of that job: I know my way around the World’s Largest Store like the back of my hand. I know where the hidden express elevators are. And more importantly, I know the location of the cleanest, untrafficked toilets.

Since Jasper was born, we’ve been taking him to Macy’s Santaland on the 8th floor every year. The photo above comes from 2008, the year Obama took the White House. And the year we saw black Santa. Amazing.

My 3 year old became obsessed with Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. I know some 9 year olds who can’t even watch that film. Too scary. But, like his Papa, Jasper admires the strange and creepy. To date, his favorite ornaments for our Christmas tree are from that film. I’m pretty sure his repeated viewings inspired the cute little skull and crossbones cardigan he was wearing in 2009. We liked it so much apparently that he wore it again in 2010.

Over the course of my evolving life as a yogi and WASH  (White Anglo Saxon Hindu) I’ve come to appreciate, to reconcile and to reimagine a great number of my socio-religious customs. Especially at those places where spirituality and family traditions cross. To be a Tantrica is to take the best of what’s come before and to weave it into the fabric of one’s body, heart and mind: Tan (to extend) tra (to cross)

Since Santa Claus is a manifest form of prosperity and magic, I’ve made it my own new tradition and practice to give him, every year, a letter. In this letter I write down all of the things, people, experiences I’ve been grateful for that year. He always slips it in his boot and tells me he’ll take a look at it later. Anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later, I get a huge hit of bliss. And I know, Santa has read my letter. Try it. You’ll like it.

Happy Solstice 2011!

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2 responses to “Santaland Diaries

  1. Just love your idea of Santa as a manifest form of prosperity and magic and how being grateful opens the doorway to delight.
    Yesterday in the subway at 77th, I gave a fiver in gratitude to a group of cool cats who were crooning one of my fav R&B tunes, “I wish it would rain”. The lead singer smiled and motioned me to come back as I was walking away. I shook my head no, but he persisted. I thought about what you said in class on Monday about being receptive, and I walked back towards him.
    He put a gentle arm around me and sang that song right to me, tears in his old watery eyes and everything.
    Sometimes you get the hit just like that… serenaded in the subway on a Tuesday morning. Ain’t it great.

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