humorist, comedian, and author David Sedaris had a short stint as a Christmas elf at a department store in
New York before he went on to become a celebrated writer.

In his essay
Santaland Diaries, he wrote about how his job as Santa’s helper was not always
merry and bright. He wrote about the dark side of the holiday season as
experienced by the elf, in a somewhat hyperbole manner.

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seven-minute reading made him an in-demand star overnight, creating a National
Public Radio tradition that enters its 30th year in 2022.

In 2017,
reflecting on the success of the piece, Sedaris said “If you sat down and
you thought about it and you thought, ‘Huh, what could I write about that
people would respond to?’ Well, everybody has to deal with Christmas. And it’s
either going to torment you or delight you. And maybe that’s why it resonated
with people because it affected everyone.”

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What is Santaland Diaries?

Diaries is an essay by author David Sedaris which is a humorous account of Sedaris’ time
working as a Christmas elf in ‘Santaland’ at a Macy’s department store in New York.

He read
the essay for the first time on National Public Radio’s Morning edition on
December 23, 1992, when he was still a struggling writer. Although his time as
an elf may not have been very exciting to him, his piece on it gave him his
first major break after it was well received by the people.

Diaries was published in the collections Barrel
Fever (1994) and Holidays
on Ice (1997). In 1996, a much longer version of the essay
was aired on the Public Radio International program This American Life.

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The essay
was adapted into a one-man stage play The Santaland Diaries by American
actor-director Joe Mantello.  It debuted
at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City in 1996. Mantello’s adaptation
has since become a winter staple of high school and college theatre.

Sedaris has claimed that the accounts are true, Alexander S. Heard while
writing for The New Republic concluded that several aspects of the essay were
exaggerated and manufactured, the time period represented being