Elves and Holidazzle

For like the 382nd year in a row, Macy’s holiday display is “A Day in the Life of an Elf”. I wish it didn’t suck so much, though there were new bits on display this year.

We took Simon through, just my mom and I. It was fun to watch him. I think 4 might be the perfect age for this display. He might have liked it even more if it weren’t so crowded in there. Me too. Definitely not going on a Saturday again.

I love this because it looks like he’s IN the display or a part of it.

Stopping at a new section of the display, the reindeer stable. Very cute, but if they’re going to spend money, I wish they’d change the display.

I wanted just one good picture of him, and asked him to stop by the only part I like, the singing Christmas trees. This is what I got.

Yeah, he’s a dork, but he’s our dork!

I finally took this picture. I’ve been through this display probably a dozen times. Every single time I’ve been through I’ve thought, “why do they make the mailman so scary?” All the other elves are cute, but this guy:

Weird, right?

Then, I wanted to get one cute pic of him and Grandma before it was over. Simon was resistant. He didn’t want to do pictures. So I told him, “how about one silly one first?”

How cute are they?

Then I took the “real” one.

Which is also very cute, my mom’s happiness leaps out of the photo. But I almost like the silly one more, it captures their personalities just perfectly.

After Simon declined to meet Santa, again, (and thank goodness this time, that line was atrocious) we headed out to do some shopping.

Then we hiked through downtown to a food court for dinner. Simon got McDonalds and my mom and I got screwed. The place we wanted sold all their food before we ordered and refused to make more because it was 30 minutes to closing. So I went to a taco place and paid too much money for crappy food.

Next up was the Holidazzle parade. Simon was overjoyed at this. He loves parades. We told him it was time and he was bounding out of his skin. We all bundled up. It was about 35° but downtown you are subject to the Venturi effect. For those who didn’t read the link the last time, this means that wind speeds up when going through narrow passages. So, in a downtown, the sections between buildings seem windier than average. As it was actually windy outside, unless you were blocked by a building, freezing arctic wind nearly blew you over. Unfortunately, we had to stand in a spot that was NOT protected by the buildings. We were chilled and frozen, through and through.


Think he looks cold and miserable? Plus, we were out there early to save space for Em, Chad, Arionna, and Chad’s parents.

He was ready to pack it in before we even began.

Grandma and Arionna, who was the most bundled of us all, but would not wear her mittens. Her little hands were frozen.

I kept checking, but he was so cold he never looked like he was having any fun.

An idea of why we’re crazy enough to do this. The parade floats are cool, and all lit up. The people who walk in the parade are also lighted from head to toe.

Mommy and Daughter-sicles.


This was one of the cutest floats. A zoo train. The animals inside are small children in costume, all lit up. Darling.


Our frozen little group.

A blurry family photo to commemorate her first Holidazzle. I think my hands were shaking from the cold.

The Wizard of Oz float.

Em and Arionna watching the Aladdin float pass by.

We made it until 6:45 (the parade starts at 6:30). By then, Simon was freezing. We went inside to warm up. We could not see from inside. Once he was warm, he wanted to go back out and see the rest. Unfortunately, we didn’t know it was only a half hour long! By the time we came back out it was 7pm and it was over. He was really disappointed.

Actually, when we got back to the car, he was so overtired that I asked him what he thought and he said, “I hated it. I hate all parades.” And then fell asleep like 30 seconds later.

The next day, though, he told his mom all about it and how much he liked it. But, next time I’d aim for a night that isn’t so cold or else be there early enough to get a spot protected by the buildings. Or inside.

Still, it was a fun adventure and I haven’t been to a Holidazzle parade since 1998, when I worked at Dayton’s downtown and my family came down and met me. We snagged a great spot on a skyway to see the parade.Next time…

Peeping Santa Part II

This blog has been a long time coming. Going all the way back to December 4, 2010…over a month. Gulp. Guess I’m a bit behind on my blogging. No wonder people are writing to complain about the lack of posts.

First, you should read Peeping Santa Part I, to refresh your memory.

Then, you should read Christmas Spirit because it ties into the following story.

When I picked up Clay and Lew that morning, they had just come from visiting Santa at Tom’s work and having breakfast with him. They got letters from Santa that were written expressly to them about their activities and behavior. As Mindy was struggling with Lewie to get him dressed to leave again, I was chatting with him. Probably not helping.

I read his letter and asked him how Santa knew so much about him and what he was doing. I said, before he responded, “is it because he is magic?” He responded, in the way that only three-year-olds can, “NO, he knows about me because he peeks in the window and watches!”

I actually choked as I tried, in vain, to swallow my laughter.

Apparently, Santa truly is a peeping Tom. His marketing team must have been working overtime to keep this a secret all these years. But, I’ve sleuthed out the truth.


Once we were underway, we chatted all they way downtown to Macy’s to see the annual “Day in the Life of an Elf”. Even though this is the third year and, roughly, 10th time, I’ve seen it, the children do, indeed, make all the difference.

Lewie was entranced this year. Three must be the age. He was wide-eyed and captivated. Clayton was impatient, unimpressed, and ready to rush through to see Santa on the other side. I was on a tight rope. Balancing against holding the magic for Lewie and trying to entertain and interest Clay. I don’t know how mother’s do it.


I finally just took the straightforward path and told Clayton that Lewie needed time to soak it all in. He hadn’t seen it as often as Clay had and he was younger. Patience, please.

It worked.

He began showing Lewie “the best parts” and talking him through the experience. It was joyful watching them do it together.

Singing Tree

Halfway through, Clay looked at me and sighed. “I really liked the Nutcracker so much better”. The Nutcracker display was when he was 3. Three is the year. I wonder if three years from now, Lewie will look back on this year in wonder.


Lewie is leaning on the ledge, just to soak it all in.

Elfin Family

We saw a couple of “real, live, ELVES” who were kind enough to photograph with the astonished boys.

Clay had questions, they played along.

Look Lewie!

“Lewie! Look at the candy cane machines, that’s really how they make them”  My favorite moment.

Toy Shop

And then, it was over. Faster than I liked, perhaps, but the boys seemed content.

We got in line to meet Santa. Clayton was dancing with anticipation. No boy has ever loved Santa like Clay has. There is a photo on my mantle of him, throwing himself on Santa in pure joy, when he was three. The photographer happened to catch it and I paid for those overpriced Santa photos, just so I could keep that one moment forever. To me, that photo is the essence of Christmas, the essence of Clayton.

This year, however, there is a bit of worry. Clay is on the very edge of not believing. He’s too smart and too analytical to believe for long. He already thinks of millions of questions, trying to poke holes in something he struggles with. He wants to believe, he just doesn’t think he should.

We got to see Santa, the boys went in and climbed up to sit with him.


I was told, for the first time, that I was only allowed two personal photos.

Chatting with Santa

I’m not sure which of mine I like more.

When we were done, we walked out and Clay looked troubled. I asked him what was wrong and he mumbled something, looking at the ground. He looked…sad.

I knelt down, facing him so we were at eye-level. I held Lewie’s hand so he wouldn’t wander off. I asked again, what’s wrong? Clay looked at me and said, “his voice was different.”

He’d just seen “Santa” that morning. He believed that one to be the real one. He was told by his parents and reconfirmed by me that Santa was traveling across town in order to be at Macy’s. We would see him again.

Twice in as many hours is too soon for a smart little boy.

I said, “do you think he has a sore throat from talking to so many kids?”


“He looked different, too. The other Santa had glasses. And his coat was different.”

The word “other” spelled defeat. He knows they are two different Santas. He’s not pretending any more and I can’t convince him. His blue eyes looked at me, pleading for an answer.

I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t asked his parent how to handle this. I didn’t know what to do. And Lewie was right there, hanging on each word. My internal debate lasted seconds, but felt like years.

Finally, I settled on something I felt was true. “Clay, do you think maybe, maybe, the real Santa gets SO busy this time of year, making all the presents and preparing for Christmas, that he can’t be everywhere he needs to be to talk to all the good children in the world?”

A spark of hope. “I think so…”

“Well, maybe, just maybe, Santa has to have friends, helpers, that go and talk to some of the children for him, so he can get everything done.”

The pause was deeper than I imagined.

“So after we saw him this morning, Santa went back to the North Pole to get his work done? And this guy was one of his friends?”

And just like that, we’re safe for another year.

I don’t want to be there when he learns the truth. That look in his eyes would slay me.

Lewie listened intently to the whole exchange. I worry about how long this will last for him. He’s too attentive to everything-Clayton. I’m afraid that Mindy and Tom will lose them both, the same year.

The rest of our day was easier, lighter than those morning moments.

We wandered out of Macy’s intent on finding the bear. There is a photo of Clayton and me with a bear, taken two years ago. I wanted both boys and the bear.

Nice Faces


Looked Away

We also found a reindeer. Guess that will be a new tradition.

These animals are inside an ornament shop. Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars in breakables, I entered with two boys, 6 and 3. Either I’m nuts, or trusting.

They were more careless than many would like, but that is how they learn, how they grow. Nothing broken, but many close calls.

Eventually, they captured my camera for their own photo shoot.

Lew of Clay

Lewie of Clayton

Clay of Lew

Clayton of Lewie (who is being very dramatic for the camera)

I snagged it back in time to capture these gems:

Where are the Boys?

They practically disappear in the face of all those nutcrackers.

Black Santa

And in the midst of all those rosy-cheeked Santas, Lewie softly touched this one and said, “what’s wrong with Santa?” I had another paralyzing moment of “oh-crap-what-do-i-say” when I, again, decided that straightforward is the way to play it. “What do you think is different about him?”

“He’s brown.”

“Yes” I smiled and touched his hair, “he is.”

And he moved on, fine after acknowledging the difference

And then they realized they hadn’t done one of me.

Me 2

Lewie took this and I found myself marveling at how all of my favorite pictures of me are taken by him. Mindy once told me that it is because of the way I look at him that makes the pictures turn out so well. I love that thought!

Then Clay got ahold of the camera for a heavy dose of six-year-old narcissism:

Clay 1

And I deleted about 50 more like this.

Blur of Lew

I love this picture that Clay took of Lewie running down a ramp. I don’t know how he did it, but the blur marks on the photo show him moving. Love it!

We found a decorated tree in a lobby and I got a picture (through bribery) of the boys smiling nicely.

Boys Tree

Then we played…on the escalator. For like 30 minutes.

I let Clayton run up the down and down the up.

Up the Down

His mother later told me she never lets him do that because she’s afraid he’ll fall. I said that I thought of that, but I figured if he fell, he’d probably not do it anymore. Being a mom must be very different than being a fun friend.


I took this and love how his reflection is captured. He’s going up the down, but resting and sliding down a ways before jogging up again. He learned that it is a lot of work to go the wrong way on an escalator. He was panting by the time I made them quit.

Lewie also played but he wanted to hold my hand as he stepped on and off. Then he’d release me and play during the middle.

I finally convinced him to try it himself and then he and his brother played together.

Up or Down?

Lew is doing it right…

One of my faves. Clay is going down the up, but he stayed right beside Lew who was going down the down. This was so cute. I was astonished at how long we had fun on the escalator. Guess it really is the simple things. And we were lucky it was in a deserted area so there were no other people wanting rides during all this.
When we left, it was off to McDonald’s to grab lunch and then to my house to eat.
Clay Lew Village
They were entranced by my village. I gave them permission to touch-gently-and they were in heaven.
After lunch, I begged for a couple Christmas photos by my tree.
Clay Tree
And then Clay asked for one while sitting on my inflatable Snowman
Then it was home to drop off Lewie with his mom and dad. Clay and I had more fun to have.
But, that’s for the next post. This one is long enough as it is. And now you know why it took me so long to get around to writing it. At work, I don’t often have an entire HOUR to write a post…
Today, it was 2.5 hours as I got interrupted many, many, times while plodding through this story. When I reread it later, my single hope is that it all makes sense.