Have you ever been to Santaland? I don’t mean just going to the local mall and getting an overpriced picture snapped. I mean Santaland. The one in, specifically, Macy’s Herald Square on Broadway and 34th in Manhattan. Yes, that Macy’s. The one where the “miracle” happened. Let me tell you: it’s fantastic.
I grew up, and still live, in Newark, NJ, a mere half hour PATH train trip into the 33rd St. station, which is about a block away from Macy’s. Every year on Thanksgiving morning, we would watch the “Macy Day Parade”, and eagerly await the end, where the man himself would ride up to the store, hop off the float, and so commence the Christmas season. And, every year, some time around the beginning of December, Mom and my sister Maureen would take us into the City to see him. It. Was. Awesome. We’d take the train in and make a day of it. There was the trip through Santaland, a magical place full of teddy bears, toy soldiers, fairies, and elves, followed by a session with Santa where we would tell him what we wished we’d get for Christmas, and then, we’d get lunch in one of the beautiful restaurants. We’d usually take in the tree at Rockefeller Center too. It wasn’t just seeing Santa. It was an experience.
This year, with all five kids in tow, the Husband and I made our first trip to Santaland as a family. Since it was the Superhero’s birthday, we thought it would be the perfect day for it. It was also an experience, just not quite the same kind.
First, we decided to drive in, so as to avoid some of the walking (you know, for the pregnant lady). Bad idea. Never take a full size van into Manhattan if you can avoid it. Ever. After circling Macy’s for an hour, we gave up finding a garage to house the Green Machine, and headed towards home. On the way, we decided to try again, and stopped off at a PATH station in NJ. We parked there and, after about 15 minutes of figuring out the darn Metro Card machines, we headed up to wait for the train.
The kids loved the platform, and, after a stern talking to from mom and dad about proper train etiquette, we hoped on board and headed back in. The train was crowded, but for the most part, the ride was smooth. They asked a ton of questions, but were well behaved (read: no one knocked anyone else over). When we arrived in NY, we took the short walk through the station, took the elevator up to the street, and there we were: Macy’s.
Once inside, a very nice young man took us straight to the express elevator, reserved for strollers, and we headed up to the 8th floor.
We were greeted by a multitude of friendly elves, who led us through Santaland. It was less than a half hour wait from start to finish.
Santa was delightful and gracious, even when Crazy Curls decided she couldn’t possibly go anywhere near him without her daddy. Everyone else gladly climbed up onto his chair and took a great picture (if I do say so myself).
The best part? Ribbons, our elf, gladly took pictures of us on my cell phone. That never happens at the mall. Not at our mall at least. Yeah, we didn’t even have to buy their pictures if we didn’t want. We could use our own camera and still get great treatment from the friendly staff.
After saying good bye to Santa, we headed back home on the train. It had been a long day, and by the time we made it back to our van, it was already after 6. We opted to pick up some McDonalds and call it a day.
Was it a hassle? Yes. Did it need to be? Probably not. Next year (yes, we are already planning to go back) it will go more smoothly (we hope). Whatever happens then though, I know it was worth it this year. The kids had a great time and I got to share with then a little piece of my own childhood, something every parent loves.