Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Dear readers, Shortcake has returned to the North Pole and spent the morning baking cookies and brownies with Mrs. Claus. She also added some photos and will answer questions. This will be her last update until next Christmas season, but check back in November 2010.

Photos of the droopy and non-droopy hat are here. Parade photos are up, as are various pictures from the season.

Here's a Christmas video featuring Shortcake as the photo elf. That was back in the droopy hat days. Here's another one featuring Bobble singing carols on the sidewalk the day Macy's had to evacuate for a fire.

LS sent me this clip from the Batman animated series in which Officers Montoya and Bullock go undercover as a "Mayfield's" Elf and Santa to catch a shoplifter. Their elf costume... not really realistic. Also Batgirl's in it. (From a holiday episode consisting of 4 short pieces)

Now, to answer your questions:

What do elves do when Christmas is over?
Well, we take a few days off, and then we go have a big snowball fight in the front yard. Around February we head back to work making the toys for the next Christmas.

How long is a typical wait in line to see Santa?
It all depends on what day and when you come, but most of the time it's between 30-45 minutes. Saturdays, Sundays, and the week before Christmas it's not uncommon for a 2 hour wait.

Do Santa and the elves miss the snow at the North Pole?
Yes, but we were lucky this year. It snowed in New York City about a week before Christmas. Also, Santa takes his sleigh back to the North Pole every night, so he gets to see it.

Did the family with the autistic child that waited in line have other children going to see Santa?
Yes, I believe there were 2-3 kids in the family, and only one was on the Autism spectrum.

Do you teach new elves how to be good workers?
Occasionally. All the elves go through training at the beginning of the season, but there was one day when Red was assigned to shadow Shortcake while she worked the front line. She taught him all about how to keep a line moving and answer questions from the floor.

What is a strawboss?
In unions, a strawboss is sort of a foreman, a fellow union member who makes sure the rules are followed. Shortcake once heard a story that a straw boss was the person who followed the elephants around at the circus and made sure they had enough straw. At Santaland, the strawboss is the person who helps Santa. He (or she - Shortcake in 2 years, fingers crossed) gets Santa water, helps him with his suit (lots of bells) or beard (gotta make sure lunch didn't get stuck in it), and makes sure Santa stays on schedule.

Everyone in Santaland takes care of Santa, but the strawboss as the most responsibility. As far as Shortcake is concerned, her whole purpose in being there is to make sure Santa is taken care of and happy, whether it's making sure people get through the line quickly to see him so they aren't cranky, or getting babies to smile, or keeping parents from pushing crying babies onto his lap, or making sure he's had some water. Her job is to protect Santa.


This is Shortcake's elf outfit hanging on her locker.

A sparkly Shining Light, Frostbite and Figgy

Shortcake & Teddy Bear

Snickerdoodle & Shortcake

Pecan Pie & Hot Chocolate got to dress up as trees and sing for people waiting in line.

Hot Chocolate singing the 12 Days of Christmas

Santa and Shortcake on Christmas Eve

Happy & Shortcake

Santa standing by the photo station

Shortcake on headset. As usual.

Shortcake carrying a stantion, one of her dear friends from the front line.

Shortcake accidentally put her sweatshirt on backwards. Oops.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Front Line, Crossroads, HR, Peek, Photo

It's Christmas Eve. One day until Christmas. The line was long, pretty much all day. Shortcake spent the entire day on crowd control, just on different parts of it. She was on crossroads for the first time ever, managing the exit as Teddy Bear and Chestnut managed the line. She was back in HR singing carols and trying to cheer people up as it was late in the day. At 5:15, the peek window was opened once the line was cut off to see Santa (otherwise he would have been at Macy's all night and never made it out to deliver presents to the good boys and girls). Shortcake manned the peek window, and for the first time in 2 years, started to lose patience. Perhaps driving from Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve to see Santa was not the best idea, people. She started singing "Under the Sea" to herself, just to keep herself happy. She finished off the day photo elfing for Santa. For the most part it went okay, but there was one father who just didn't understand that his daughter didn't want to sit with Santa, so Santa had to tell him forcefully that she was kicking him (which she was). Oy, it was not the best end to the day. Shortcake is now at home, watching White Christmas, wearing the Macy's sweatshirt she was given today and drinking hot chocolate.

Spritz and Marzipan made some awesome sugary treats today.

A bright moment at the end of the day: While the elves were all changing, getting ready to go back to the North Pole, Shortcake started singing "Hakuna Matata" and all the elves joined in. She really does have the best job in the world.

There will be pictures posted later, along with answers to all the questions asked over the season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Front Line & Reindeer Games

Today was the day before the day before Christmas. This day last year was christened "Titanic Tuesday" because it (a) was on a Tuesday and (b) was the day everyone and their mom came to see Santa and then became very angry when they had to wait to see Santa because it was two days before Christmas. This year it was decided that today would be a fun day for the elves. We had day long games and challenges and hour by hour challenges. In the spirit of the day, Shortcake let Sprinkles sparkle her. This involved blowing sparkles all over Shortcake's face. It doesn't show up so well in the photo:

Shortcake spent the entire day on the front line, which is old news by now, except when she was working on the scavenger hunt on her lunch hour.

There was an all day challenge to see who could get the most people to sing Christmas Carols with them. Shortcake won, obviously, since she is such a pro at the front line. She sang a LOT of "Jingle Bells," "Rudolph," "Frosty" (for which she learned the words from a mom who was on line, and they're still not in the right order), "Jingle Bell Rock" (which she doesn't know all the words of, but faked it well), "Winter Wonderland," "Deck the Halls," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Joy to the World" (the version that includes a bullfrog - Shortcake decided it was a Christmas song), "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (which takes a LOT of energy) and some more "Jingle Bells." Thanks to Hot Chocolate for lending her a bell for the day.

Shortcake tried to act out Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with some kids early in the morning, but it didn't go so well. But at least she tried.

There was another all day challenge to see how many countries elves could collect from people who came to see Santa. Shortcake gathered the following: Brazil, England, South Africa, China, Guyana, Algeria, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Malta, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico (technically a territory, but it's not a US state, so it counts), Colombia, Japan, Nigeria, India, Spain, Frnce, Russia and the United States. Keep in mind that list is just from today. Shortcake has been visitors from all over the world including, but not limited to: Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Holland, Albania, Israel, Pakistan, and Sweden.

From 12p-1p the game of the hour was to not say the word "Santa." Shining Light tricked Santa into saying it at 12:04p, but it wasn't fair because Shortcake didn't hear the announcement that the game was starting. She almost said it while singing Rudolph later that hour, but she only said the first syllable and quickly stopped.

From 1p-2p, the game was to dance to the song "Sleigh Ride" anytime it came over the loudspeaker, but Shortcake couldn't participate because she wasn't anywhere where "Sleigh Ride" was playing. Also, she was on lunch, working on the scavenger hunt.

From 2p-3p, the game was to find a name that started with every letter of the alphabet. Shortcake didn't start playing until 3p, (oops), but she did get every letter except U: Alexander, Brandon, Cynthia, Daniel, Elaine, Fran, Gabriella, Hamid, Isabel, James, Kayla, Lisa, Michael, Naja, Olivia, Paul, Quinton, Rado, Sophia, Teruko, Vivian, William, Xavier, Young (last name), Zach

From 3p-4p, the game was to pass a green ribbon and a red ribbon down the line of people waiting to see Santa, and see which ribbon could get it to the Gatekeeper first. The green ribbon won, so every elf wearing green pants got a prize. Shortcake was wearing red pants today, and thus, did not earn a prize. But she did take the red ribbon home.

From 4p-5p, the game was to see how many people you could get to say the word "Believe." The line was exploding at this point in time, so Shortcake did not participate in this game.

Now, the scavenger hunt. The big one. Shortcake was given a little bit of help from Santa, but mostly she did it herself, and has the actual items or photographic evidence of such.

1. A candy cane
This is a candy cane hanging on a tree.

This is one of the candy cane's surrounding the Welcome Kiosk.

2. A red nose

There is a red nose on the Jack in a Box.

There is a red nose on that clown cookie jar on the shelf.

3. A set of antlers
Option number 1 for reindeer antlers. What is Shortcake looking at?

Option number 2 for reindeer antlers.

Option number 3 for reindeer antlers.

4. A stocking

It's not Shortcake's stocking, but it is a stocking.

5. A carrot

A carrot from a pot pie.

Shortcake is pointing to the carrot nose on the snowman on the wrapping paper.

6. A top hat
This is the only top hat Shortcake could find in the Maze.

Then she found this top hat, which is infinitely better. It's meant for a bear with a significantly larger head than Shortcake's.

7. A dancer
Those bears are dancing the Nutcracker, making them dancers. As a bonus, there's a red star behind them.

8. A vixen
Shortcake is pointing to a sign that says Vixen.

This is a strawboss named Vixen. In 2011, Shortcake is hoping to become a strawboss.

9. A cupid
Shortcake is pointing to a sign that says "Cupid."

10. A Santaland Express ticket
This is the front of the Santaland Express ticket.

This is the back of the Santaland Express ticket. Yes, those are Shortcake's fingers.

11. A lump of coal

So, it's not a lump, but it is an elf named Coal.

12. A red star
Yup, that's a red star.

13. A strand of tinsel
That's an elf named Tinsel.

Yup, that's a very large strand of tinsel.

14. A receipt from Puppet Theater: Shortcake never made it over to Pupper Theater.

15. A used photo ticket with the #3:
Shortcake wasn't in the Village all day.

16. Last year's Santa pin:
If you look carefully at Shortcake's hat in the Vixen photo you will see the pin from last year.

17. Topstick
Shortcake was the first person to recognize what topstick is, and to ask for it.

18. A caroling book
This is the caroling book Shortcake carried around with her to help her remember the verses to "Deck the Halls" and "We wish you a Merry Christmas."

19. A coloring book
This is the coloring book we used to give to kids who came to see Good-Lookin' Santa.

20. Siblings wearing matching sweaters
Yup, these two sisters are wearing sweaters that match.

21. A kid in PJs
This kid is wearing a flannel shirt, and she's wearing flannel pants under her pants. That counts, right?

22. A pair of red socks
This child is wearing red tights.

This child unzipped her boot to show off her red socks.

This child has red socks and red shoes.

23. The correct # of stantions in Santaland:
Shortcake didn't try to count them.

24. Every managers' Elf name: Cindy Lou Who, Snowstorm (?), Avalanche, Blinky, Surprise, Chubby, Bing-a-Ling, Icicle, Hooli, Santa, Twinkles (?), Prof. Frosty (?)

25: The names of all the houses: Star, Bell, Tree, Candy Cane, Ornament, Holly

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Photo Elf, Front Line, Santa Elf, Front Line

Shortcake was back at work today. It was great to walk in and see all of her elf friends. Some of them had been working on Sunday, when Macy's was evacuated due to an escalator fire. Worry not, no one was hurt, and people continued to see Santa after people were let back into the store. Shortcake was not working that day and missed all the fun.

Shortcake still cannot breathe through her nose without the use of helpful drugs. But other than that she feels fine.

Shortcake started the day Photo Elfing. It's been so long, she felt a little out of practice. The babies still won't smile for her, but they will at least look at her when she does a dance. After a few hours, Shortcake was given a break and sent out to the front line to be on headset. The line was never that bad. At it's longest it was 45 minutes, but hovered closer to the 30 minute mark for most of the day. For only having 3 days until Christmas, that's really good.

Lunch was fun, since she managed to have lunch with Pecan Pie, Teddy Bear, Frostbite, and Figgy.

She then Santa elfed for a few hours, which was fine, but she suffered a sugar crash around 3:30pm. She finally made it through, and finished up the day on the front line that was about 25 minutes line.

Only two more days with Santa before heading back to the North Pole. Elves are starting to say their good-byes, since we all take different trains back at different times.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


While Shortcake is not working for Santa today, she did feel the need to comment on the kids playing in the snow. The primary activity appears to be throwing snowballs, or chunks of snow, at relatives, preferably your sister.

Also, there was a little girl waiting to see Santa that Shortcake met maybe 2-3 days ago. She was adorable and proudly playing with a purple dreidle that lit up and played the dreidle song. She was Catholic and visiting Santa. Her mom said she had just come from a Jewish friend's house and wanted a dreidle. Whatever works.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Front Line

Shortcake spent another day on Front line, but received a lunch after only 4 1/2 hours. WHAT? It was busy all day, but the line was never longer than an hour, and the snow didn't even start until 2pm, so all was good, especially for the last Saturday before Christmas. Shortcake can breathe now, thanks to three doses of Ibuprofen Cold & Sinus. There isn't much else to report. There was one cute kid who kissed Shortcake on the cheek.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Crowd Control

Dear Readers,

Shortcake cannot breathe out of her nose. This morning this led to a briefly sassy Shortcake, who threatened anarchy on the mean people who moved the stantions from the back hallway. Do not mess with Santa's elves on the Friday before Christmas when all the kids are getting out of school and there are 6 days left to see Santa.

Shortcake then proceeded to spend the entire day, literally, on the front line. She didn't get a lunch for six hours, but there was a 20 minute break in there. She discovered that standing near the front of the train made her stuffy. She discovered that standing in stroller alley made her stuffy. She discovered that blowing her nose did not help. She took a Sudafed, and that didn't really help. At the end of the day, Shortcake still could not breathe out of her nose, which, you have to admit, kinda defeats the purpose of a nose.

Because of this she did not have much patience for people who came to see Santa on the last Friday before Christmas and then were surprised when the line was 40 minutes or longer.

Two friends came to visit Shortcake at the end of her shift, which was nice.

There was one family, with two teenagers who needed some convincing to believe in Santa Claus. Shortcake told them to look up the Virginia O'Hanlon letter, which would explain everything to their satisfaction. The boy also told Shortcake the square root of 361 was 19, which Shortcake did not know. You can find the Virgina letter here and it's the best description of Santa ever. For particular poignancy listen to the song "Somewhere in My Memory" while reading it.

Shortcake is now home, chugging tea, writing a paper, taking drugs (the medicine good kind, not the brain altering addictive bad kind) in a desperate attempt to be able to breathe through her nose for the last Saturday before Christmas, complete with forecast snowstorm.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Front Line, Photo Elf, Front Line, Usher Elf

Good news folks! Shortcake has licked whatever she had down to just a stuffy nose and occasional cough. It might be that she slept for 8 hours last night. Thank you for all your helpful comments. While Shortcake agrees that an immune system has a purpose and to do its best, it needs to be exposed to germs, she also doesn't want to contaminate the kids who come to visit Santa with her germs. So, Purell wins the day. But Ricolas got pushed to the back seat.

Shortcake started the day a little low on energy (what with not being able to breathe through her nose), so she played mute on the front line, using a stuffed puppy to wave hi to kids and answer questions by nodding. It was a fun way to pass a half hour.

She then went to Photo elf for her favorite Santa. When he does school groups he has a question and answer session with the kids, and answers any and all questions about reindeer or elves or Santa. The most important question is: Is Santa real? To which, Santa responds by holding out a hand and saying "Touch me. I guess I'm real then."

There was one, possibly Italian, little boy who wouldn't sit with Santa, but was fascinated with the bells on Shortcake's hat. Adorable.

After a break, Shortcake was sent back out to the front line. Nothing excited happened, but to demonstrate what she does out there, Shortcake will now answer Frequently Asked Questions:

Is this the line for Santa? Yes. Go right up this ramp.
How long is the line for Santa? 20 minutes. (Or 25 or 30 or whatever)
Can we take pictures with our camera? Yes, but we ask that you keep it to one or two because Santa has so many people to see.
Where is the window to just look at Santa? That's closed this year. There is only one line to see Santa.
Is there anything else to see inside? Yes, a winter wonderland display with ice skating polar bears and skiing penguins and dancing bears and a train display.
How much does it cost? It's free to see Santa.
How much are photos? There are lots of different prices and packages. They'll give you a photo ticket with prices on it.
Is there an age limit? No. No one is too big to visit Santa.
Do I have to sit on his lap? No. You can sit next to him, or just walk by and wave.
Can I bring my stroller in? Please do.
Where's the bathroom? Either on 7 or 9.
What floor are we on now? 8.
Where's the closest women's restroom? Take the down escalator by the wall down one floor, then turn left.
Where are women's coats? To the right.
Where's gift wrap? To the left, by China.
Where are tablecloths? To the left, somewhere by China.
Where's the puppet show? Across from Bridal.
How much is the puppet show? $5 for adults, $2.50 for kids.
When is the puppet show? 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 2:15, 3:15, 4:15, 5:15
Where is HR? In women's coats.
Where is the Santaland exit? In women's coats.
Where is McDonald's? On 7.
Where are the elevators? To the right, around the corner.
Where are the ornaments? On 9. There's an up escalator just past the Marquee.
When is Santa here? 9am-9pm.
What is the last day? Christmas Eve.
What's your name? Shortcake. What's yours?

After lunch Shortcake got to Usher elf in a great house with Teddy Bear and Snickerdoodle. There was one girl who was shy, so Santa pretended to go to sleep, and then wake up. It calmed the girl right down. There were just a lot of really cute kids today, most of whom were perfectly willing to take Shortcake's hand while she led them to the house. Shortcake also ran into about 3 trees and a house, while she was walking backwards, but, then, you know, it's a danger of ushering. There was one little girl who gave Shortcake a hug, and another little boy who gave Shortcake a kiss on the cheek and a hug.

Shortcake has the best job in the world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gatekeeper, Crowd Control, Santa Elf

Dear readers,

Shortcake is sicky. She is not sick, but she is exhibiting many symptoms. Basically, working for six days straight took a toll on her voice, which gave her a sore throat, which led to a hacking cough, which gave way to a sniffly nose. Because Shortcake spent the day sucking on sugar-free Ricolas back-to-back in order to contain the cough in front of visitors, her stomach and digestive system are now very cranky. And noisy. Also, she has a headache, probably from dehydration. Other than that, Shortcake feels fine. No worries, she takes cough medicine on schedule, took some ibuprofen, antacid, and will soon have Throat Coat tea.

Despite these maladies, she worked a full day, first as gatekeeper. It was a pretty easy two hours, with one request for Good-Lookin' Santa, and some school groups. Starshine said Shortcake was a good gatekeeper, and Shortcake decided that Starshine and she should stay friends, even after they return to the North Pole in January.

After a 20 minute break, wherein Shortcake took her cough medicine and discussed scary novels, she was sent to crowd control. It wasn't so bad because the line started to die down, so she didn't have to shout as much as usual.

After lunch (consisting of soup and some throat coat tea - see, various mom readers, Shortcake knows how to take care of herself - she also Purells constantly - Lunch also consisted of this amazing pumpkin bar almost cheesecake deliciousness made by one of the managers), Shortcake was sent to Santa elf. She worked for two great Photo elfs: Periwinkle, who had very minimalized movements, and could get kids attention very quickly, and Snickerdoodle, whose technique was more like Shortcake's. Santa was very affected by a family he saw wherein the mother said the kids father and grandmother had died this year. There was also a visit with Good-Lookin' Santa. Shortcake's first! It was very exciting, and the mom was thrilled because the little girl used to hate Santa because she was so upset that no one looked like her (darker complexion). (Good-Lookin' Santa, for those not in the know, has a darker complexion as well.)

There are times when people need to be held in the house, even though the visit is over, because Mrs. Clause has just baked a batch of cookies and is hiding them from Santa (he has a voracious appetite for them), and Shortcake is given the job of distracting the people in the house from noticing where Mrs. Clause is hiding the cookies, so they don't tell Santa. Shortcake uses this opportunity to doublecheck and clarify gift requests so they are entered correctly in the log, and the elves tracking gifts make sure they put the right labels on.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crowd Control, Photo Elf, Crowd Control

So sorry for the lack of updates, dear readers. Shortcake's social life got a little busy over the last few days, but she shall update all today. The entries will be post-dated, so look below. (If it works right. Edit: It does!)

The droopy hat was fixed! The wardrobe people let me put safety pins in the droopy bits, so now the hat stands proud. Pictures will be posted later. Thank you for your kind suggestions, dear readers (Shortcake is trying a Bronte motif.).

Shortcake had tons of energy today, for no clear reason. She just arrived at work ready to go.

She worked the front line for about 15 minutes before summoned to Photo Elf. During that time, there were few people around, so she practiced juggling with glittery bouncy balls. Hyper elves should not be left alone with toys in a somewhat empty store.

The beginning of the day was slightly wonky since the bench was removed from Santa's house, so coats and bags just went on the floor, which threw her for a second. She had the best Santa elf. When Shortcake works with Teddy Bear, it's all good. It was a busy day, as Sundays tend to be. After her break, during which she delivered letters and a candy cane to Santa, she went to the front line, stood on the railing at the front of the train, and asked people to step aside in the line if they needed to stop for a picture. For three hours. There are 12 days to Christmas, and it is amazing how many people either don't know how many days it is to Christmas, or can't do math to figure it out, or don't know what my true love gave to me on the Twelfth Day of Christmas (12 drummers drumming).

After lunch Shortcake went to the main exit and decided with Turtledove that were we to actually acquire 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a-leaping, 9 ladies dancing, 8 maids a-milking, 7 swans a-swimming, 6 geese a-laying, 5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 French hens, 2 turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear chair, they would open a dinner theater featuring milk and birds on the menu.

She was then sent to the front line, and spent more time with Teddy Bear greeting people in a line that was only 30 minutes long (probably due to the rain.)

Since Shortcake worked today (Sunday), she will not work again until Wednesday, so don't look for an update on Tuesday. She'll be monitoring secrets at another location instead.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Photo elf, Crowd Control

It was a busy, busy Saturday. The third weekend of the holiday season is always a little crazy, and the line was past stroller alley by 9:30am. Shortcake was sent to Photo, and managed to fit a family of 11 into a picture. There was another group of 22, but they only wanted the 11 teenage girls in the photo, thank goodness. Luckily, Shortcake had an awesome Santa elf, Bobble, who totally rocked and supported Shortcake.

Shortcake was assigned to Gatekeeper for about 5 minutes before she was reassigned to a spot just past Crossroads, with a radio, and urging people down a hallway (where she spent the rest of the day). If you were entering the hallway, she told you about the pictures on the wall of the parade over the last 80 years (Which really are interesting. There are pictures of Times Square from the '30s.) If you were exiting the hallway, she urged you forward. The emergency exit door was accidentally opened 3 times in a row when Shortcake first got there. Each time, security had to be called to turn it off. Shortcake asked everyone to cover their ears until it could be turned off, in order to protect hearing. Some patrons were very cranky and not very cooperative, understandably so, since they had been in line for an hour (or more - twice during the day the line was out of stroller alley, into women's coats, all the way to the fitting rooms, which means a line of 2 1/2 hours), and still had an hour to go. Shortcake tried to keep spirits up by singing Dory's "Just keep swimming" song, and "The ants go marching 2 by 2" along with telling people to play games like "Find the name of every elf you meet and remember it" or "Guess the date the picture on the wall was taken."

There was a family that had an autistic child who braved the line. If only Shortcake had known the child was autistic, she would have called a manager. She didn't realize it until the family had been in line for an hour, and the child literally lay down on the concrete floor to deal with the stress of the line.

It was still so busy at the end of the day that the line was 2 hours, and Shortcake would gladly have stayed longer, if she could have, to help out, but alack, alas. Shortcake had other obligations.

The elves had a Christmas party later that night. It involved many sugary treats, ice cream, an impromptu dance party, and lots of Santa jokes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crowd Control, Usher elf

Shortcake started Friday morning on crowd control, with a twist. The lights were out in the maze. People could therefore not go through the maze, which meant the line was humongous. People entered through the doors at the Freezer (the professional photo station), and then continued on to see Santa. The line then went straight in front of the train, curved twice in front of the train, went down stroller alley and into Parade hallway. After an hour, it was that long. Finally, around mid-day, the maze was re-opened, and the line went back down to normal levels. There were maybe 3 elves working the front line during all that time, as the rest of the elves were busy helping Santa in the Village.

In the afternoon, a man came up to Shortcake (and her manager), asking for help. His daughter's boyfriend was going to propose in front of Santa, and he had brought champagne and glasses for the occasion. The manager helped him out, and everything went perfectly. The woman's first response on seeing the ring was "Are you kidding me?" Then she said yes.

Good things happen in Santaland.

Shortcake finished the day by ushering for a few hours, which is always pleasant. Shortcake thinks the managers let people usher as an award, because it's a coveted position. It's easy, high-energy, and you get to talk to kids.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Front Line, Photo Elf, Droopy Hat

Shortcake was five minutes late to work because the train decided to stop about 3 times between stations. Shortcake does not like being late.

She started work immediately on the front line. There was a special event today called "Happy Child" where underprivileged kids are brought in, fed breakfast, get to see Santa and get toys. Groups of kids were being led to see Santa in addition to the normal school groups and families. Happy Child was supposed to be over by 10am; instead it didn't end until noon. Around 10a, the line exploded and there was a minor stantion disaster. Because the stantions were not set up properly, Shortcake was frantically trying to pull them together to make a line, and then were were only two lanes instead of the usual three, and a school group leader decided to pick a fight with a family about who was in line first, while Shortcake was stretched between stantions... It was a mess, but by 11a it had calmed down again.

In answer to a question posed by ELF's mom, the line to see Santa during the day is usually about 20-30 minutes, and most of that is inside the display, so there's stuff to look at. On really busy days (weekends, Black Friday etc.) it can be an hour to two hours.

After a break, Shortcake was sent to Photo elf, where she saw a lot of school groups, and some pushy moms, but mostly good kids. After lunch, she Photo elfed again, and managed to get 11 teenage girls into a picture, and it turned out really cute. She also discovered a silly dance for babies, that sometimes makes them smile. Sometimes they just stare at her in awe. But they always look at her, and mostly stop crying.

Shortcake worked with Santa today, and he decided that every time there was a new batch of elves in, they would come together for a cheer. They all put their hands in the middle and on the count of three shouted "Merry Christmas" and threw their hands in the air. Very inspiring.

Shortcake has a very droopy hat. It makes her look like a jester instead of an elf. People say it looks cute, but it doesn't change the fact that it is droopy. She's changed hats, and that didn't help. The current theory is that Shortcake's head is too small and round. It doesn't help that she wears her hat down around her ears, and it moves around all over the place while she does her silly dance and shakes her head to make the bells jingle. Shortcake has a special cowlick at the end of the day on her left temple, all from wearing her elf hat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gatekeeper, Front Line, Usher, Photo

Shortcake started the day as Gatekeeper, which just means she asked every single person who came to see Santa how many were in their party. It felt like a promotion because it is a job with a lot of responsibility, and it's in the village, which is not on the front line. Note to people coming to see Santa: The Gatekeeper does not want to know who is sitting on Santa's lap, or who is taking the picture. She wants to know how many are in the party total. So do not look at her and say "one" when there are clearly 4 adults all fawning all over a child, or she will assume you are abandoning that child to visit Santa alone. Without the child's stroller. If there are five living, breathing, human beings, all five will visit Santa.

Shortcake then took a brief nap on her 20 minute break. Those breaks are just long enough for Shortcake to sit quietly and fall asleep, but luckily she always wakes up in time.

Front line was not too exciting. Pin lady (a lady who comes to visit Santaland every year to give the elves pins) gave decorative bells to two little girls who had just seen Santa, which was very nice of her. She's really a very generous woman.

After lunch Shortcake ushered, working in a house with rockin' Santa and two elves who were on it. It's very empowering to know you're working with people who know how to do their jobs. Santa said everyone would have a game night and Shortcake challenged another elf to a game of Twister. A boy with Autism came to see Santa, as well as a family with 3 children who all took turns reading their lists aloud to Santa. It was kinda adorable.

Shortcake's last group of the day, as a Photo elf, was with 4 moms and 6 kids, all under the age of 3. She managed to get all of them smiling in a photo. Shortcake Jingleberry Accomplishment Elf is her new name.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sketchy Santas

This link should probably not be shown to children who still believe in Santa. It should probably be saved for adults with a healthy sense of humor, who enjoy schadenfreude: Sketchy Santas

Shout out to LJ who sent it to Shortcake.

Main Exit, Photo & Usher Elf

After two days off, Shortcake's voice is sounding much better. It was getting a little harsh at the end of the day. Shortcake needs to work on talking in a lower register which is hard because the human - excuse her, elfin - condition seems to be to switch into a higher register to talk to children.

She started the main exit today, bright and early at 8:30am. Somehow being awake to be at work at 8:30a was harder than being awake for work last week at 7:30am. Silly body. It's all confused. After a 15 min. on her morning break, Shortcake was good to go, and spent a few hours Photo Elfing. The Usher elf made the mistake of breaking the illusion during a Santa visit. The other four elves present stared her down in consternation. Shortcake then had to walk her through how to usher. Shortcake & Santa did ok though. There were two school groups, and a group of mentally disabled adults. There was one family where both kids started screaming, and while the mom was talking one son to the other side of the house, the other son took off running. Shortcake had to leave the house, run after him, and corral him into the direction of his mom since he wouldn't let Shortcake touch him. She got back to the house just in time to take the photo for Santa.

There was another runner while Shortcake was ushering in the afternoon. He took off, and then fell flat on his face after 3 steps. Luckily, he was ok. Lots of pushy moms and screaming kids today. There were also two boys who had long blonde hair, pulled back in ponytails and braided. They were dressed in turtlenecks, sweatpants and snowboots. At first glance they looked like girls. The mom was very insistent they were boys, and they did ask for swords and trophies and Star Wars toys. It was an interesting experiment in gender stereotypes because after staring at their faces, Shortcake decided they could pass for boys or girls.

3 friends came by to see Shortcake on her lunch break, which made her very happy. We took a picture, and chatted. Here's a shout-out to LH, AT and MM (even DC who overslept). Sorry you missed Good-Lookin' Santa. Maybe next year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crowd Control, Village Exit & Santa Elf

Shortcake officially sounds like gravel is in her vocal chords. She spent another day working the crowds, but this time in HR.

Sad news folks: Shortcake's goal of never letting the line go past stroller alley never had a chance. At 10am the line was in the green hallway, and Shortcake was moved into HR to keep the line moving, and keep some Christmas cheer in the back. There was a little drama with some bad headsets, but that was eventually resolved, and once the line was figured out, it started moving fairly quickly. Yes, being in the line all the way in HR is not pleasant. But at least Shortcake was there smiling.

Eventually, the line died down, to the point where it just in stroller alley. And that was at 3:30. AMAZING. ROCKSTARS are we.

So, Shortcake worked the Village exit, instructing people to step to the right to look at photos and step to the left to exit. After that She was allowed back into the Village, and Santa elfed!

2 days off! See you Tuesday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Front line, Freezer, Front line

We got slammed today at 10am. Shortcake was assigned to the front line first thing the morning, per usual (6 out of 7 days and counting), and it was normal until all of a sudden people showed up in hordes to see Santa. Along with lots of school groups. And we were short-staffed (lots of elves still at the North Pole making toys), so there were only 3 people to watch a line that was 60-90 minutes long.

Note to Santa visitors: Don't cut. It makes Shortcake unhappy.

After 3 hours on the front line, when it had finally died down, and the three elves all congratulated themselves, Shortcake was sent to Freezer, which is the position assisting the photographer in the maze. And she did that for 2 hours. With lots of people.

There was one group, all from Ohio, coming to see Santa, but it almost gave Shortcake a heart attack when they said 35 people. Luckily, they didn't all need to see Santa all at once.

Here's the deal. After 5 hours standing - and, by the by, Dr. Scholl's gel shoe inserts do not work - Shortcake was tired, hungry, and starting to become cranky. THANK GOD FOR LUNCH.

After lunch she was sent back to the front line, and just kept reminding people to step forward.

Shortcake has now lost her voice.

9:30 tomorrow morning. On the second Saturday of the season. But the line still hasn't gone past Stroller alley, and Shortcake firmly believes it won't need to, if we all work together to keep taking one step forward.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Front line, Photo Elf, Front line

It was the last day of the autism event, and Shortcake was at the front line again. She was there for four hours, but for the last two and a half, she had a helper, Red Elf, who was new, straight from the North Pole, and learning the ropes. Lots of adorable kids coming to see Santa, and a lot of big kids too.

After a 20 minute break, she headed off to Photo for Santa. She had a dance party, showing off her special Shortcake dance to Santa, and her fellow elves showed off their dances too. That's what elves do in the houses when you aren't around. Dance. There was one large group of 16, and a German dad with the sweetest little girl. There was a boy who cried and screamed, and then came back because his little baby brother needed a picture with Santa too. There were some criers today. After 2 hours of that, she was given a lunch break wherein Disney World was discussed, as well as surviving on a deserted tropical island without chapstick. If you were wondering, Shortcake would probably hunt animals to make her own chapstick with animal fat and coconut oil before figuring out how to purify the salt water or build a shelter. Lip balm. It's a necessity.

After lunch Shortcake spent some more time on the front line, and then Santa let her go home an hour early! As a reward for coming in early! YAY!

See you tomorrow after sleeping in!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Front Line & Photo Elf

Lessons learned in Santaland:

When you leave an elf alone at 7:30am in front of Santaland with no one to talk to because the store isn't open yet, do not be surprised when the elf plays with toy cars, bears, toy guns or tops.

If you pull on Santa's beard, he will pull on your hair.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Princesses Don't Need Princes

There was a little girl in line today wearing a blue Cinderella dress, white socks, and blue Cinderella shoes, all clearly bought through the Disney store. When Shortcake asked her if she was waiting for her prince, her mom said no, and then her mom and Shortcake proceeded to riff on how princesses do not need princes to rescue them or to make life better.

Shortcake feels a sense of accomplishment by thwarting misogynistic fairy tales today.

Autism, Photo, Gatekeeper, Santa

After two days off, which, by the by, is not enough time off to recover from Thanksgiving weekend, Shortcake was at work bright and early at 7:30am to work the Autism event. She photo elfed, and saw two families. The first family had a 4 year old on the autism spectrum, an older 8 yr old brother, and a mom. (Ages are approximate.) The 4 year old was a little scared of Santa, but eventually sat on his mom's lap next to Santa while his brother sat on the other side. His mom was thrilled, and he went home happy with a plush Mickey. The brother was actually the inspiring one. He was so patient, and kind and good-natured with his brother. It was clear he felt responsible for taking care of him, helping Mom out. His mom asked Santa for peace for Christmas, and the brother seconded the sentiment. That's what made Shortcake tear up.

The second family had 1 son on the autism spectrum, probably in his teens. He shouted everything he said, and asked for a Care Bears DVD and Ice Age. He gave the biggest smile possible for the camera, and his parents were thrilled. When the Santa elf gave him the plush Mickey to take home, his mom burst into tears.

It was a good event.

Shortcake then proceeded to photo elf (getting many compliments from Santa on getting good pictures of babies. It helps when the parents are quiet, and the kids are only 6 months old. The younger the kid is, the less likely s/he is to be scared.). There were two school groups today. After lunch, she gatekept for awhile. There was one request for Good-Looking Santa, and otherwise it was a good time. Lots of Big Kid Tourists coming to see Santa. Then she Santa elfed for the end of the day, by which point in time, Shortcake's feet hurt, and she just wanted a nap.

The new break and lunch activity is crossword puzzles. A lot of the elves, along with some strawbosses, Santas and managers, get into it, and it's fun to figure it out.

Early bedtime tonight. 7:30am again on Wednesday for an Autism event.

P.S. Special shout-out to ELF's mom. Glad you're enjoying the stories. 24 days until Christmas!