The DevourerLand Diaries
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Dear Jameson Reynolds, Nomi Barazikane, and other assorted members of the board of the Union of Christmas and Holiday Entertainers.

As you know, Peter Sarábande has been Top Santa for the past twelve years. And why wouldn’t he? You look at the 50,000 or so entertainers listed in the UOCAHE and you see one man ranked top Santa every year. Peter Sarábande. I have some serious concerns about this.

It’s not like I’m jealous. They assigned me Santa exactly once in the past decade or so and I am fine with that. I’m an elf, typically. Senior Elf at the Minnesota Grand Isles Mall. There’s something about Peter that creeps me out, and always has. That’s my primary objection with upping him to top dog. You know my opinion that this business is dying, and kids are not lining up for photos with Mall Santas anymore. And you are also likely familiar with my objections to UOCAHE reaching a nice little deal with Amazon to turn some of their brick and mortar locations into holiday photo entertainment destinations. This is going to end very badly for us. Not even from a political standpoint, merely a practical one.

Amazon is killing people in their warehouses and Peter Sarábande doesn’t care. And that’s weird, because you apparently love his constant performance as Santa Claus, a figure we all agreed in the 1998 meeting would never publicly endorse poor labor conditions. Online shopping is going to kill our industry.

Some background if you’ve never been brainwashed by the man, and/or you don’t care. Peter works Macy’s usually, one of about twenty-five Santas professionally employed by the store. They sit in their house, they don the beard and the suit, they take photos with the kids. Normal. But this guy? He’s well known, even all the way out here in the midwest, where I am. He’s a legendary man, legendary for committing to the role. He gained about 150 pounds one year. Bleached his beard. He spends about six months a year at homeless shelters in Europe: Iceland, Sweden, Norway, handcrafting toys for small children and furniture and shacks for adults.. I wrote a piece for the union magazine on the furniture builder in New Jersey who trained him. Said he was unnaturally skilled at it, he hadn’t seen an affiliation for woodcarving like that since his grandfather.

These days, I don’t know what he’s saying.

He stopped by my area recently for a meeting of our local chapter. Not a huge crowd, but something fairly respectable all things considered. A lot of elves. The local union leader asked Peter to give the keynote speech. And I was all prepared to actually like him and put my misgivings aside but he was even stranger than usual and very disorganized. I seemed to be the only one concerned he was rambling. He kept saying all these words that I understood but also didn’t understand? Look, I know that doesn’t make sense but I’m not a stupid man. I have my finer grasp of English and a fairly decent student’s grasp of German and Portuguese as well. What our golden boy was speaking wasn’t a language I know. It’s started to becoming concerning. I’ve attached an transcript from a voice memo I recorded of the meeting,

"The world is threatened by a lack of Christmas Spirit! People crawl as ashkamaniukeh(?) along a broken system. We make toys! We bring them to the naughty. It is literally down to us to pick the worthy from the broken. The naughty list is a sacred token of our times, my friends, my bornayshk(?) Now, do we have any elves present? Good, good, servers of huhuwantec(?) . I have fed the reindeer before coming. There’s not too many of us who can do that these days. I can feel the power she gives me! I can finally take to the skies on the holiest of nights, make the children happen. Not a pyramid, no. A tree. A frosted tree."

I think we responded with fusty applause. I talked to one of the Santas in my area, Reginald Billingsly. Good coworker, I would definitely recommend him for any sort of promotion or union award. And he didn’t see anything wrong with Peter, which is the norm, I suppose. Liked him as much as he could, in fact. He confided in me that he had re-voted for him.

It feels like there’s really only me who sees that this isn’t natural. I am very disappointed that you and the other leadership are head over heels for Peter, and continuing to shower his every action with praise. He acts like he is Santa Claus or Father Christmas or that. With those weird elf words or whatever he thinks they are.

Frankly, I am disgusted that we continue to praise and support this man. That we continue to heap praise on him even though he’s clearly not well. He’s making poor decisions that the rest of us Holiday Entertainers should not be honoring nor using as an example.


Simon Granger, December 2019.

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