I'd say I remember it like it was yesterday, but truth is I've spent a long time trying to forget.

...only I can't, because my dad still teases me about it constantly. When you cry at a mall Santa, that kind of thing is perfect dad fodder. They looooooooove to remind you, "Hey, remember that time Santa made you cry? That was HILARIOUS!"

So let's go back to 1989 in Oneonta, New York, at the old Bresee's department store, when an unremarkable mall Santa made me cry.

A Taste of Upstate New York via Facebook
A Taste of Upstate New York via Facebook


The year was 1989-- Madonna and Michael Jackson were at their peak, Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would dominate the box office, and MTV was still playing music videos.

I was 6 years old, so it's not like I was afraid of Santa at that point. I had visited mall Santas in years prior without incident. Hell, I liked Santa! But it was Santa's words that day that made me feel bad:

Wow, that's quite the list. Other kids might want some toys too, you know.


In 1989 I was heavy into my Ghostbusters action figure phase. The Ghostbusters craze was really my first foray into "Collect 'em All!" culture.

cryptkeepers_collectibles on eBay
cryptkeepers_collectibles on eBay

(You had to collect 'em all. It said so right on the package! It was your very duty to collect 'em all.)

So in my defense, much of the length came from individual action figures. So yes, there were a lot of items, but I considered them small items. It's not like I was asking for 10 video game consoles.

santa ghostbusters - 1
Canva / Columbia Pictures

But that Santa sure made me feel like shit. Because I spent a lot of time on that list. Dare I say I was proud of my list! Christmas lists are like a child's first major creative writing project.

Looking back, I can't say I can blame Santa. All he saw was the sheer volume. Not every mall Santa is going to know the finger points of Ghostbusters action figure collecting.

(Even though he should, considering he was making all of them himself at the North Pole.)

Then, of course, my dad made things worse by what he said in the car.

You want me to go back there and punch Santa in the nose?

That just made me cry harder.


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