Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas in the Northwest

Have you heard the song? The one with the same name as this post?

A friend on facebook asked what everyone's least favorite Christmas carol is. I realized that I have many. I concluded that I'm a Christmas song snob, but "Christmas in the Northwest" is what the Japanese would call my "dai kirai" (big hate). Sorry, to say that in English just sounds dumb, so I'm opting for Japanese.

Living in the northwest, I'm not sure if the rest of the U.S. gets to hear this cheesy piece of music each year. We get to hear it plenty, so if not, we're making up for your lack, I'm sure.

My purpose in this post isn't to bash that song to the nth degree. It is however, to tell you that I love living in the northwest at Christmas time, and why.

So, here's my list of what I love about Christmas in the northwest (at least the Portland, Oregon part of the northwest) in no particular order:

Peacock Lane - it's just a street in southeast Portland (across the Willamette River from where we are. Just in case you aren't familiar with the area, that's how the east and west parts of Portland are divided. North and south are divided by Burnside Street) on which every house is lit. From what I've heard, in order to own a house on this street, you sign an agreement that you will decorate for Christmas. There are horse-drawn carriages that can carry you up and down the street, for some extra fun, but we always opt to walk it, so we can take our time looking.

Downtown Christmas lights - when I was a small child, Christmas time was the one time of year when my mom would take all of us kids that were home (five of us) on the public bus (known as Tri-Met) and take us downtown just to walk the streets and look at the window displays. Meier & Frank, that has fairly recently been bought out by Macy's, was the best place. Usually their display is the 12 days of Christmas. You have to walk all the way around the building to see the entire twelve days. Pretty spectacular!

Santaland at the downtown Macy's - like I said, this used to be Meier & Frank, but they have a room at the very top of the store which houses Santaland. There's a small tram car which circles the room at the ceiling and Santa is there (down below), sitting on his throne, so you can place your Christmas order with him. This is any kid's dream come true. Just the ride in the elevator to the top of the store was fun when I was a child, but the tram and getting to see the Cinnamon Bear along with Santa put this experience over the top in excitement.

The big tree at Pioneer Square - we never go to the tree lighting.--too much of a zoo, but this gorgeous tree is great to see any time. It's just kitty corner (where did that phrase ever come from?) from Macy's, so it's all really convenient and the MAX light rail train runs right between, so transportation there's very easy.

Zoolights - with our zoo membership, we get into this event for free. If we want to take the train, which I love especially for this event, there is an extra charge. A membership is the only way to go with a large family. It pays for itself in one visit. The Zoolights is AMAZING! Yes, it's freezing cold to walk around, but there are so many things to look at that you don't even notice.

The Nutcracker at the Keller Auditorium - this was a tradition we started in our family, but it ended when we had so many that we couldn't afford it any more. I would love to start this tradition over again. Just so fun to get dressed up a bit and expose the kids to live theatre.

The Christmas ships - this is something Z and I have only been to a few times, but one thing I love about Portland is the river that runs through it. I love that they use it for so many festive things throughout the year. It's one thing that I think adds to Portland's unique flavor.

There are a number of Christmas traditions that have disappeared in the past few years. The one I miss the most is the Christmas celebration they had at Alpenrose Dairy. They had it all. You could see Santa and sit on his lap, go on a carriage ride, go see a Christmas movie in their old time movie house, go on a pony ride, etc., etc., etc. I'm so sad they've discontinued this, but I'm sure it was a LOT of work.

This year, we're going to the Zoolights to watch Q play with the school band. It'll happen next week. We usually go for B's birthday on the 28th--kind of nice because the Christmas rush is over. We go get hot cocoa at the Africafe. I would also like to go to the Grotto; I've heard it's beautiful, but I've never been there. Our plan is to go down Peacock Lane tomorrow night.

One thing about the northwest is its unpredictable weather. As long as I can remember, we've never had a white Christmas, but last year was a winter full of snow. More than I've ever seen, and I've lived here my entire life. The weatherman is saying snow this weekend, so we may just be spending time at home, which I love about Christmas too.
So, if you've heard the song, please don't judge the northwest by it. This is a WONDERFUL place to be for the holidays!


Unknown said...

I have never heard the song, but you make a fabulous advertisement. I want to move to Portland now, just for Christmas.

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