Growing up in Portland had some tremendous advantages. These advantages included temperate yet varied weather, low crime rates, diverse friends and neighbors, and numerous indoor and outdoor activities. But, one of the overlooked parts of growing up here, at least for me and my insatiable love of Christmas, was having Christmas here.
Sure, when people think of Christmas, they think of houses and yards buried under snow. They think of mittens and gloves, hot cocoa, lights, Christmas shopping and, of course presents. Christmas in Portland, in true Portland style, was diverse and, at times weird.
I remember one Christmas, right before my youngest brother was born, my grandparents came for a visit. When they arrived, about a week before Christmas, it was clear and sunny and cold. Within a week, we were buried under four feet of snow. A blizzard to end all blizzards and grandma and grandpa got to stay with us for an extra week. I remember rainy Christmases, and sunny Christmases, warm ones, cold ones, and white ones. Portland keeps you guessing at Christmas time.
And then, of course, there’s Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane was usually the Christmas destination for the family following the bliss of a morning acquiring new toys. A lot of has changed in Oregon since I was a child, but not Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane remains a consistent must experience each holiday season.
And the Christmas concerts by the singing Christmas Tree and at Portland Christian Center. Nothing got me in the yule tide spirit quite like these events. Still do. They kick off the holiday season for me.
We used to wait in line for what seemed like hours to see the mall Santa and Clackamas Town Center. I remember there was always that one screamer who was terrified of ole Chris Kringle. That kid was always in front of me. But, I was never scared, I got on the big mans’ lap and told him what I wanted for Christmas. I always got it.
And, of course, there were always the Christmas Eve candlelight services. My dad, who has a Christmas Eve birthday, would always enjoy his birthday dinner at the Rheinlander (RIP) and then we’d make it to church for a Christmas message and Christmas Carols. I always liked that moment of reflection.
Christmas in Portland is and was special to me. Friends, family, church, food, lights and sometimes a blanket of snow—some of my fondest childhood memories in Portland involve the Holiday season. It’s an experience like no other.