I am calling it now: this story will be a modern Christmas classic, right up there with the likes of The Night Before Christmas, Love Actually, and Die Hard. Yesterday, Humans of New York (HONY), a website that collects powerful stories from regular people who live in New York City, shared the story of Johnny Tammaro, a regular guy who grew up in Brooklyn and who for years has been one of Macy’s department store Santa Clauses. This is a man who loves his family, loves magic, but most of all loves Christmas and everything it stands for.
Over 15 short posts, HONY tells Johnny’s story, and by the end, there’s not a dry eye in the house, if the comments are accurate. I can tell you that I was for sure cwying (you’ll understand the reference when you read it!).
I don’t want to spoil the story, but here’s the general set-up: Johnny grew up in a big Italian family in Brooklyn, and he’s loved all things Christmas and Santa since he was a little boy — and his mom never, ever failed to take him to Macy’s to visit Santa each year. He was absolutely crushed when he found out that Santa wasn’t real, but he found ways to keep loving the holiday season as he grew up.
As he gets older, tragedy strikes, but there’s also joy: he meets his wife and has a son. And he also realizes a dream that he didn’t even know that he had: to become one of the Santas that works at Macy’s in Manhattan, and to keep Christmas alive for kids everywhere.
This guy isn’t just an amazing Santa, he’s also an amazing dad. And the way he talks about Christmas and fatherhood will have you cutting onions by the dozens.
If they don’t make a movie out of this, we are wasting our time.
There is a lot more to the story, but you really have to visit HONY and read the posts yourself — put aside 10 minutes or so when you need a pick-me-up.
The response to the story, which was posted on Monday, has been huge, even for Humans of New York, which boasts a combined 30 million followers over Facebook and Instagram. The final post alone has been liked over 275,000 times and and over 8,000 people have left comments.
“Thanks to everyone for coming on the journey yesterday,” wrote HONY creator Brandon Stanton, in a post shared on Tuesday morning. “If you haven’t read Johnny’s story, and enjoy Christmas even the teeniest, teeniest bit, it’ll grow your heart three sizes.”
The message was posted alongside a video of Brandon scrolling through the comments, which were in the thousands.
“I was snot crying into my coffee this morning,” one person wrote.
“It really might be the best HONY ever,” another said.
“And suddenly I’m reminded I don’t have to rush out of my sons room tonight,” one parent wrote. “I’ll rub that back a little longer. Everything else can wait.”
“I believe!! We all believe,” one person simply wrote. And after you read it, it’s hard not to believe in Santa, again, too.
You can (and should) read the full story either on Facebook or on Instagram.