25 years of Santaland Diaries


It’s not Christmas until David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries plays on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Today was that day. For the 25th straight year.

You’ve never heard it before? Don’t click unless you never want to hear Billie Holiday the same way again. Ever.

Here’s the original essay.

  • Barton

    They began playing this just as I pulled into the parking ramp. I couldn’t leave the car until it was done, even though I have heard it so many times before.

    My favorite bit is the mother who wants the Elf to confirm that Santa can rescind his promise to bring toys but said mother has an issue with the Elf’s interpretation of the threat. Stop using Santa as your disciplinarian!!

  • Guest

    THIS anti-Christmas meme being presented so often is why MPR’s brand means zilch to those whose faith guides their life.

    Would MPR present often a diatribe against one of their favorite issues???? Would they decry FOX for doing so?

    WHY is answered by each individual, and the WHY of this being presented time and time again doesn’t bode well for the MPR brand.

    • //THIS anti-Christmas meme being presented so often is why MPR’s brand means zilch to those whose faith guides their life.

      How many mentions of Santa or Crumpet the Elf are in your Bible?

      // and time again doesn’t bode well for the MPR brand.

      And yet…. here you are, Dave. Again.

      • Guest

        Ohh I personally soak up a LOT of MPR.

        This was just a word to how it is perceived by those whose Christian faith means a lot to them…..”war on Christmas” and all that.

        IF MPR had no idea giving it so much playtime would hurt the brand (a little)

        OR

        it knew but decided to repeat again and again anyway……both facts once again hurt the brand. Granted it is a small effect, but being unaware is telling.

        • Jerry

          What, honestly, does Santa Claus and his elves have to do with the Christian aspect of Christmas?

          • The only plausible explanation would be if followers of the Prosperity Theology viewed it as a metaphor. And even then, it unmasks the the Prosperity Theology.

          • The only plausible Clausible explanation…

            😉

          • Guest

            The original (a bishop giving anonymously I recall) gave gifts in honor of Christ’s gift to the world. I grant you in Theology his birth is a very big deal, the traditions around Dec 25, not so much.

            However, ask a Christian why they celebrate Christmas and it does go back to Christ’s gift to us.

          • Jerry

            Santa and his elves have way more to do with Northern European pagan traditions (and Coca-Cola’s marketing department) than 3rd century bishops of Turkey.

        • I really don’t think you speak for the Christian faith; I think you probably speak for yourself and were likely looking for a reason to feel persecuted, which is what the phony “war on Christmas” is all about.

          If you actually spent the time listening to Sedaris’ essay you would haved realized years ago that it was a commenter on crass commercialism which is consistent with , frankly, what the Pope actually tweeted today. I’m sure you saw it.

          Sedaris’ essay is entirely secular and your complaint is wholly without merit or logic. It merely was intended to pervert reality to fit your listener bias.

          • Guest

            I DO speak for myself, I asked if I could speak for the whole Christian faith and they said no 🙂

            And I am trying to inform you why those who sincerely feel there is a war on Christmas feel that way and what effect they feel from your repeated airing of this cynical story versus an uplifting one.

          • KariBemidji

            There is no war on Christmas in America. And this constant mongering on about it is ruining the brand for the rest of us. And is one of the reasons why church attendance is falling in America – google ‘nones’ and ‘dones’.

          • // And I am trying to inform you why those who sincerely feel there is a war on Christmas feel that way and what effect they feel from your repeated airing of this cynical story versus an uplifting one.

            The war on Christmas is a marketing tool which uses Christianity for purposes which are cynical, at best. That’s a flaw with those who feel “that way”. They need not be accommodated nor pacified.

            The majority of people at MPR, I suspect, are people of faith. They’re not just easily manipulated and have a deeper faith that is not rooted in popular culture and cable TV.

            But, again, you keep ignoring the actual essence of the Sedaris essay to perpetrate some nonsense that to mock the hypocrisy of people at Christmas, to criticize the materialism that obscures the Christmas story is to mock the Christmas story itself.

            You’ve chosen to make that leap and displayed an inability on willingness to explain the actual logic of what is actually the very definition of irony.

          • KTFoley

            Behold the Christmas troll.

          • >>I asked if I could speak for the whole Christian faith and they said no<<

            So, you're the Pope?

            /Nails more theses to a church door.

        • >>”war on Christmas” and all that.<<

          There is no "War on Christmas."

          At. All.

          • jon

            Exactly.
            It’s “The war of Christmas overreach”

            Why just yesterday saying “happy solstice” to some one they said “merry christmas” back, like they didn’t know that it was the 21st, not the 25th… does christmas run for 12 days* like yule now? or 8 nights like hanukkah?

            I could allow for a “happy advent” since that is going on right now… But if you aren’t fasting for advent, then in what way are you observing advent (outside of lighting some candles on sundays?)

            The point being, that I too can act offended, and make arguments for why you other people are being mean to me… though I do it mostly tongue and cheek (the serious part is getting stores to stop putting up christmas stuff in October.) to make a point at how ridiculous people are being.

            *ok so technically there is 12 days between Christmas day and Epiphany, so I could let “merry christmas” slide from the 25th out to Jan. 6th, maybe… but since it doesn’t happen, it’s not something I worry myself about.

          • The war on Christmas was invented for ratings by a guy who turned out to be a pervert. I can’t fathom the choices people make for heroes.

          • jon

            Yeah but it wouldn’t have gotten ratings were it not for the masses ready to feel victimized at every little slight while complaining about everyone else’s who they disparage regularly for their own entertainment…

            I guess the moral of this story is that some people not only make poor life choices but also can’t see their own hypocrisy when it’s Right in their faces.

    • lusophone
      • There’s nothing, actually in Sedaris’ essay that has anything to do with faith or the challenge thereof.

        Although I suppose it could be construed as such if you consider the woman who slapped her kid so he’d look happy sitting on Santa’s knee as a metaphor .

        • lusophone

          My comment was a reply to “Guest” and it was more of a defense of MPR’s brand and not so much about his take on the Sedaris piece.

          • Yep, it was pretty obvious.

            *Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas / Happy Festivus / Whatever

      • Guest

        I personally think MPR is one of THEE best stations on radio.

        However frequent playing of this versus say a reading of “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” speaks to decisions of MPR leaders.

        • Barton

          I still don’t understand what you think it says. To me it says loads about materialism and fake merriment – about the idea that we “have” to be perfect at this time of year because “what would the neighbors think?” But it says nothing about Christmas (that being the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ).

        • Really what you’ve done is cynically used your faith as a cudgel to complain about the lack of appreciation, I guess, for the myth of Santa Claus. That’s not disrespectful to your faith at all. You’re asserting a blasphemous attack on the crass marketing of Christmas is a blasphemous attack on Christianity. That’s illogical.

          He not attacking the faithful; he’s attacking the hypocrites.

          There is no Santa Claus, Dave

          If you disagree with Sedaris (and the pope), then go ahead: Make a non-secular case for in idealized Santa Land in his essay.

          • Guest

            We agree there is no Santa Claus and we agree this story does attack the idealized Santa Land, and Christmas traditions have as much to do with Jesus as the Easter Bunny does to Easter.

            PLEASE understand though, by using this cynical sour story as MPR’s nod to Christmas every year instead of something uplifting, I am trying to inform you about how many folks feel the MPR leadership views Christmas.

            Folks view CNN and FOX largely by what they choose to present….and NOT present.

            The sum of the choices IS the brand.

          • // instead of something uplifting, I am trying to inform you about how many folks feel the MPR leadership views Christmas.

            This is a great example of reader/listener bias for you have to chosen to ignore all the stories and items surrounding Christmas that appear here and on MPR to declare that this constitutes the sum and substance of “MPR’s nod to Christmas every year.”

            That ignorance is either deliberate or casual but in either case it’s a fallacy that you’re trying to perpetuate as fact and which will, no doubt, appeal to others who choose to ignore facts in order to achieve their daily outrage and satisfy themselves that their predisposition to ignorance on the question is , in fact, knowledge.

            Well good for you and good for them, then.

          • This week’s StoryCorps segment, which also aired on Morning Edition this morning, was the story of a parent who planned to quit his job working with special needs children in order to earn enough money to buy his own children Christmas presents only to be talked out of it by his children. But I suppose you didn’t want to hear that story on NPR, did you?

    • >>THIS anti-Christmas meme being presented so often is why MPR’s brand means zilch to those whose faith guides their life.<<

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ffe4158f6a023198401676354b70ed242c9c246c1c99733164b70a799c7b3e5.jpg

    • kevins

      Merry Christmas to you.

    • NathanT

      Happy holidays!

    • Rob

      Did you mean //anti-crassness meme//? If so, I’m with ya. If instead you’re saying that Sedaris’ piece is yet another example of the “War on Christmas” (which exists only in the febrile minds of rightist hatecasters), then not so much.

  • Veronica

    I loved every second. Thank you for posting it!

  • Okay, believe it or not, there are people out there who have never heard this. I’ve been listening to Minnesota Public Radio for many many years and this is the first time for me! Thank you, it is great.

  • Guest

    Bob, MPR does MANY Christmas stories. Now tell me which one has been repeated for a quarter-century and will be again next year.

    YES, this story is about the marketing of Christmas, but not even you would label it uplifting, and it IS more sour than sweet.

    I enjoyed it myself. Once again, please inform me of any other repeated story MPR does as a nod to Christmas.

    Choice ARE the brand.

    • Jerry

      They usually play that Kevin Kling story, but I don’t know if they have done it for 25 years.

  • Brendan K.

    I love The H Street Sledding Record. Heard it once a few years ago; is that an annual thing? https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/482/lights-camera-christmas

  • Jeff C.

    How have I missed this for 25 years? Thanks for posting.

  • ClarkKent46

    Oh little elf, little elf, I’ve heard this several times before. It is a classic.