It’s hard to cull just one sentence from Sedaris’ embedded reporting on being a helper at Santaland, a place he describes as “a real wonderland” with a path taking visitors through the “ten thousand sparkling lights, false snow, train sets, bridges, decorated trees, mechanical penguins and bears,” and past a Magic Tree and Santa’s house, and arrives at a line of cash registers.

His sentence (oops, two) describes a place within a place, (the special corner), and the sentences function, first, as a joke — with a set-up and a delivery, and second, as a synopsis of the season. We expect the “Oh, My God Corner” to be some sort of shrine, wherein folks experience wonder and awe. But the punchline subverts our expectation. Sedaris further expounds on visitors’ exasperation and panic, noting that, “Standing in a two-hour line makes people worry they are not living in a democratic nation.”

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