Fifty years Ago this week I was Santa Claus at our local Macy’s. I did not volunteer. I was happy to find seasonal work on the college job board. I was hired to sell womens shoes. It was a lot of running back and forth from the stock room, and very little sales, but I really enjoyed it.
One day the store manager came by, “Diestler, stand up! What’r you, six feet?” “Uh, six two.” “Fine! Fine! Come to my office.”
I had to ask where the office was. When I got there I saw a box on his desk. It smelled of moth balls. I had never smelled that before, but this must have been moth balls. Or a dead mouse.
“Here’s the suit, see ya on Monday, 11:00 sharp,”
It was a red velvet frock, with a white fur trim Santa Suit. Pillow not included! Apparently I had been drafted.
That weekend I watched “Miracle on 34th Street”, it was the seasonal marathon, and either “Miracle was on, or “It’s a Wonderful Life” 24 hours a day. So I dressed in my Santa suit, and watch both movies several times. I learned to love “It’s a Wonderful Life” and I grew a bond with “Miracle on 34th St. “. After all, I was going to be Santa at Macy’s, the very same company that had hired the real Santa Claus!.
That Monday morning was one of the most terrifying moments in my young life. I was up on the balcony where the dressing room was located. I could see Santa’s Throne down below. There was a line of children extending through the room, and out the doors into the street. I was two stories above, with a single strait staircase leading to the room. Each step took all the effort I could muster. The fear had produced a paralysis in my knee joints.
From below it must have looked like I was making a dramatic entrance. In addition to the fear, I couldn’t see the steps because of my “pillow stuffing”. It was all a blur for the next eight hours. Thousands of kids, hundreds of thousands of “Ho, ho, ho’s”, then it was over, until the next day. It was a three week gig, and I learned to love it. I still remember each Christmas! And to those who read this Merry, merry Christmas, from Santa