Without one single drop of hyperbole, please know that if you plan on continue reading this story you will absolutely need a box of tissues. Or at the very least, a long, hearty shirt sleeve. Because this viral Humans of New York story is, without question, the best one of the year.
In a 15-part tale that will make you smile, weep, and everything in between, one man who plays the esteemed role of Macy’s Santa Claus shares his full-circle story about his love for Christmas and his family. Honestly, describing it doesn’t even do it justice. So let’s dive right in.
Johnny Tammaro is a New York-based performer who has loved both performing and the Christmas season for as long as he can remember. He’s now a husband and father to a teenage son, and he hits every single feeling that exists on the emotion spectrum with his now wildly viral story on the Humans of New York social media channels.
“It’s a magic trick, a dupe,” the story begins. “Nothing but an illusion. And it starts the moment you walk in the door. Biggest store in the world. Eight full floors of shopping. And Santaland is at the very top. You can take the elevators. Or you can do what I did when I was a kid, and what I still do today: you take the escalators. Up, up, up. Through make-up. Through linens. Through housewares. Around the third floor, something happens. The escalators change to wood. They’re over one hundred years old, these escalators. From the original Macy’s. When you see them, you know: very soon. You’re about to see Santa. Your heart starts racing.”
Tammaro perfectly captures the moment “real life” slips away and the magic of Christmas sweeps you off your feet when you’re a kid getting ready to see Santa. He weaves in and out of describing his joy at playing Santa, how he came to be one of the Macy’s Santas, while also including heartwarming pieces to his own family’s story—from the very beginning until now.
If you’ve ever been a child lucky enough to have wonderful Christmas memories, this will be the gut-punch of nostalgia and relatability you didn’t know you needed today. If you’re a parent who busts your butt to give your own kids a sense of Christmas magic every year, well, same. Prepare your heart (and your eyeballs for the Niagra Falls coming their way).
He talks about losing his dad at a young age, and it’s the most heartbreaking thing.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to watch them grow up,” he says. “Every few months you get to say ‘hello’ to a new person. But you have to say goodbye too.”
Well excuse me while I try to find the breath I now can’t catch because this so perfectly nails the beauty and the torture of your children growing older.
He also beautifully describes the year where his son realizes the truth about Santa Claus—and his dad.
“From one to five you have them. In all their innocence,” he shares. “Before it starts to click in: the real life, the adulthood. First it’s only a glimpse; and it clicks back. You get them back. But each year it clicks back less and less. Until it doesn’t click back. Until your baby boy, the only one you’ve got, comes home from school and says: ‘Dad, my friends and I have been talking. And it’s logistically impossible for Santa to do all of that in a single night.’ And I knew. I knew I couldn’t hold him any longer. I went into the bedroom. Tabatha took one look at my face, and said ‘What’s up?’ I said: ‘I think our son just told me he doesn’t believe in Santa.’ And she said: ‘Thank God.’ And we laughed for a second. Then I said: ‘It’s over. This year, when he comes to Santa—he comes to me.”
“I sit back on the couch and I start to lose it. Nobody else knows what’s happening. They’re confused. It’s just a song to them. They’re looking at me like I have seventeen heads. They couldn’t know. He actually did it. My boy. To make me happy. To make me say wow. My boy. My beautiful boy. My beautiful, beautiful, baby boy.”
The story has gone massively viral in less than 24 full hours since the final, 15th part was posted. It is, inarguably, the best Humans of New York story of the year. There’s no catch, and while there is loss, the story is, overall, not a tragic one. It’s just a real one. One that humans and parents of all ages and generations can relate to, because it not only speaks to us as Mom or Dad—but to our inner child, too. And we all need that sometimes.