Every Christmas I promise myself that this will be my last year working for a toy store. I used to think happy thoughts about Santa’s Elfs. They built cute wooden toys with little hammers, they drank hot cocoa, sang little songs and rode around Santa’s workshop in magical trains. After seven Christmases working at Tom’s Toys, however, (this one will be my last, I swear!) I now think of them as brothers and sisters in Santa Hats, enslaved to the magic of Christmas.
In some ways, I feel that the Elfs of old were a lucky bunch. They didn’t have to worry about electronics malfunctioning, the wonders of selling on amazon.com–You want me to ship it where??, or the hazards of having a customer service line hooked up to their cell phone– Sorry mam’m, I can’t tell you why you didn’t get your order right now because my dog is peeing on the carpet and its 2 am in the freaking morning! I often wonder whether the North Pole has a customer service address and whether any mom would dare tell Santa he ruined her kid’s Christmas IN ALL CAPS.
Even though working Christmas in a toy store is like living in a frantic snow globe, it does have a lot of moments. Like wrapping piles and piles of oddly-shaped gifts or helping someone solve the biggest hole in their gift list with a Lego set. I haven’t been working in the store a lot this Christmas and I was wondering why I was feeling kind of down about the whole season. Then I realized: I didn’t have my Santa hat.
The tradition of my Santa hat started five or six years ago when I was working at the store. I don’t know why I started wearing it. I think my head may have been cold one day and I snatched the nearest hat I could find. Hats definitely aren’t required at the store and most of my co-workers looked at me funny but somehow, even when I wanted to tell the Beverly Hills prima donna on the other side of the counter to go jump in a lake of egg nog, I felt that I was somehow a part of the holiday season. I kept up the tradition until this year, when I’ve been busier fielding complaints over phone and email than wrapping gifts.
This morning, after three nasty emails, two early phone calls juggled with a slobbery puppy and a to-do list to rival Santa’s I did what any rational person would do– I dropped everything, jumped in my car, drove to CVS and bought me a cheesy Santa hat. There’s still 19 loooong days until Christmas, but at least everything now looks a little brighter- and fuzzier.