It takes a very special kind of visit to Santaland to make a 9yo girl stop believing in Santa and unicorns in one evening, but that’s what happens after you wait for two hours in the bowels of Macy’s, on a deceptively long line. You start to look for cracks in the system.

We went to Macy’s last night, just like we do every year, to visit Santa. That’s where the Real Santa is, according to my kids. You have to make an appointment (Santa accepts no walk-ins) and our appointment was at 7pm. When we got there, you could see a small line wrapping around the front of the Santaland display.

There’s a few windows with the story of Miracle on 34th Street and then you go into “the train” which takes you to the North Pole. Every year we’ve been to Macy’s previously, the whole line was from the train to Santa, so you are always in Santaland, surrounded by Christmas lights, decor and a fancy electric train. We usually wait 20 minutes tops.

This was last year’s picture:

This year was different. When we got to the part of the line by the window displays, where we thought it immediately turned around and went back in the other direction to the train, suddenly a door opened up and we were escorted to a part of the line hidden from view, wwhich looked ENDLESS.

That line snaked back, turning corner after corner, as if everyone was involved in some kind of cruel joke.

The worst part is there were people going in the opposite direction, who were about an hour ahead of you, and you knew that as soon as you reached the end of wherever this line was going, you were going to have to turn around and do the same length of line back. Every time you thought you had reached the part where the lined turned back, you’d suddenly realize there was another corner to turn and then MORE LINE.

We were waiting for two hours in the back hallways of Macy’s, listening to various children complain that they had to go to the bathroom (sorry kids, no bathroom on this floor) and various adults claiming loudly, “But I had a 7pm appointment!” Yes, lady, so do ALL of us.

The kids were pretty good considering the wait. I told them that we could leave and go home— it was up to them. They wanted to stay. At one point Mazzy asked me if she could use my phone to make a meme to commemorate the experience. Here it is:

Poppy was with us too (it was his first Santa visit), and he filmed his experience to show his wife (my stepmother) just as much as I filmed my experience to post on Instagram.

I mean, the line was INSANE. And the way it was structured (out of sight from the main shopping area) made everyone on it feel totally duped.

Remember when I told you that Mazzy wanted a real live alicorn for Christmas? For weeks, I’ve been telling her that’s never going to happen. “Santa makes toys, not mythical creatures,” I warned her. “If you ask for that, you are going to be disappointed.” But Mazzy was undeterred. “I don’t even know if Santa knows what an alicorn is, ” I tried. So, to be safe, Mazzy made a very detailed alicorn sketch to present to Santa for reference.

When we finally got to the end of the line, two and a half hours later, Mazzy peered into Santa’s room as we awaited our turn. “He looks different from last year,” she whispered to me, a tad concerned. When I saw him, I knew it would be a problem.

Last year, we had the most perfect Santa. This guy looked really different. The elves ushered us in.

Mazzy went up to Santa a little hesitantly and presented her sketch book. “I hope this isn’t your list!” Santa joked with a heavy New York accent. Mazzy had drawn her alicorn on two pages— one with the outside of the alicorn and one with the the inside of an alicorn, which was the more important page. Santa looked at the outside pic, but then flipped the opposite way through the book and then made some joke about her sketch book not being completed. Then he told her to set it aside and I could see her face fall a bit as she put in on the ground with her coat. It wasn’t until I looked at the video later that I realized she never actually showed him her sketch.

Santa told the girls to sit in his lap asked what they wanted for Christmas. Mazzy repeated, “an alicorn” and then Santa, very bluntly said, “Yeah that’s not gonna happen” in a heavy New York accent. I had warned Mazzy, over and over again, that Santa wasn’t going to be able to deliver, but she believed anyway and this CRUSHED her.

She stayed on his lap, biting her lips and listening to what he had to say about stuffed unicorns and animated unicorns and all the while, I could see the wheels in her head spinning as she tried to hold it together.

Harlow said she wanted Andrea’s Speedboat Transporter from Lego & Friends (she worked hard to memorize the name) and then the elves snapped some pictures and we were done.

As soon as we walked out, Mazzy started crying. She told me Santa was a fake. I said that I agreed. “I don’t think the real Santa was at Macy’s like last year.”

Then she said, “No, mom. It’s all fake. Did you see all of the different rooms when we were walking out? They all had Santas in them and they are all fake!”

Macy’s does have a complicated system where people are ushered into different rooms, but nobody is ever supposed to cross paths, so the kids don’t see more than one Santa. But as I said, when you notice one crack, you start to look for all of them, and Mazzy is getting too old and too smart for this.

I told her that Macy’s must have changed things so Santa could seee more people. “You know how we always say that the other stores have fake Santas that help the real Santa out? Maybe Macy’s couldn’t get the real Santa this year either. It doesn’t mean Santa isn’t real. He just wasn’t there today.” Then I added, “But I don’t know. We’re Jewish so I don’t really understand how any of it works!”

Mazzy was upset the whole way home and when we walked in the door, she announced that it was THE WORST DAY EVER. She questioned Santa. She questioned unicorns. And she questioned magic in general. I think asking Santa for the alicorn was Mazzy’s ultimate magic test, and he failed. I couldn’t figure out how to console her.

Finally, instead of trying to make her believe in a holiday we weren’t even supposed to celebrate in the first place, I said, “You know what Mazzy? I agree. It’s THE WORST DAY EVER. What’s today’s date?”

She told me it was December 19th.

“I declare December 19th officially the Worst Day Ever and this will be a new holiday that we celebrate every year!”

This was the first thing I said all night that made Mazzy smile. “Yes!!!!! How should we celebrate?”

Harlow said that instead of saying “happy holidays” we should greet each other with “Palm in yo face.” We all cracked up and greeted each other with appropriate “talk to the hand” gesture. Then we decided that the traditional Worst Day Ever dessert would be a pint of ice cream that you let melt on the counter and then refreeze, before you can eat it. We decided we would get each other cheap terrible gifts that no one wants like mustard packets and pencils with erasers that don’t work. Then I said that every year we would go to Wagamama for dinner (we had terrible meal there recently) and Mazzy said, “No, Mom!!! Now you’ve taken it too far!!!!”

That made us all fall into a fit of never ending giggles.

It might not be Santa, but sometimes a well-timed joke (especially one delivered by your kid) can feel a little bit like magic.


So. Who wants to celebrate the Worst Day Ever with us next year? What traditions should we add????

You can see all the soul crushing moments on my Instagram story. Follow me on @mommyshorts!