The Ice Palace will open its doors at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center at 5 p.m. today -- which means that Santa Claus will finally be in the house. Er, the mall. The Ice Palace -- a fancy name for a faux icicle-covered indoor forest -- will feature six-foot-tall snowglobes playing video footage of whales and polar bears during a show that debuts today, and runs through December 24.
I know: While you're probably thinking that retail pushes the hardcore Christmas vibe much earlier that it should, I'm busy thinking, "Is it time yet for the entire mall to smell like nausea-inducing fake apple cider and cookie dough candles?" It is like I live for this shit. Okay, it isn't like that -- I do. I live for Christmas at the mall!
As my fellow mall-employee friends were posting pictures on Facebook of giant cranes hanging red-and-green holiday banners and strings of lights three days before Halloween with captions like "This is just too disgustingly early, even for retail," I was asking my manager, over the walkie talkie for the millionth time, when our store was going to get Christmas music.
Part of me is sick of listening to the white-man-indie-band (i.e. Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, The National, Generationals, you get the point) song loop that takes over my brain each shift. But another part of me honestly can't wait to hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You," "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney and, of course, the saddest but still the best holiday song of all time, WHAM's "Last Christmas."
(For the record, I had no idea how not-gay-but-still-really-gay this video was until I wrote this. It's like George Michael is the star of a United Colors of Benetton-meets-Pantene commercial with Barbara Walters' lighting.)
I love Christmas at the mall. I love the way it sounds, looks, feels and smells -- so much so that this summer, I followed a man around Bed Bath & Beyond for twenty minutes hoping he would notice and/or marry me, because he smelled exactly like Christmas at the mall. It was a blend of the above-mentioned candle smells mixed with pine, honey-baked ham, new plastic, a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and that underage cologne Abercrombie & Fitch pumps into its ventilation system. Basically, he smelled like heaven.
Since I've worked at this particular shopping center off and on since 1996, you'd think I'd be over the whole "Black Friday/droves of holiday shoppers looking for items they saw on Good Morning America or Amazon or Facebook that they must buy right this minute and what do you mean you don't have it" thing. But for me, it's not about celebrating or shopping or selling (women's pajama sets to men who act like they've never bought their wives a gift before) or eating candy out of the break room vending machine for lunch (because the mall is too crammed with unattended children and and shopping bags and dogs in strollers to forage for actual food). I'm just obsessed with feeling like Christmas.
I still believe in Santa, not just because he puts presents under my mom's tree with my name on them and I'm a 31-year-old woman, but because, starting in a few hours, I get to see him every day when I go to work. The Cherry Creek Shopping Center Santa has a real beard, therefore, I believe he is a real Santa.
Last year, when I wasn't working at the mall, I indulged in my retail/holiday fantasy in a different capacity -- as a Santa Rater for Westword. I spent weekends looking for Santas across the city, knowing full well that while there may only be one real Santa, there are plenty of his dopplegangers in other retail locations, so that everyone can have a chance to tell Santa they want new Uggs for Christmas. Or maybe just I want new Uggs for Christmas.
In any case, I plan to tell Santa that as soon as I see him comfortably ensconced in his Ice Palace, with an Ice Princess (sorry, Mrs. Claus) by his side, milk and cookies on deck and a DJ spinning what I'm hoping is some bad-ass Christmas music at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center's opening shindig tonight. I won't be there for the party, though; I don't want to think about sharing Santa. Because I am Christmas-crazy, and this holiday is about me, Santa and the mall. And that guy who smelled like Christmas.
Speaking of which, maybe I should put up a Craigslist Missed Connections that says something like July 15, 2011: You were wandering around Bed Bath & Beyond and you smelled like Christmas at the mall. I was the woman behind a pyramid of canning jars, sniffing the air profusely. Would you like to meet Santa with me, over coffee?
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