Monday, December 27, 2004

Is It Two Days After Christmas?

I caved in to a pre-New-Year's resolution and took the dog for a long walk up the hill behind the house.  I have been SUCH a couch potato the last six weeks, I feel like I'm losing all the residual muscle tone I possessed.  I've vowed to walk with the dog every day...she needs it, and I need it.  So far, we've managed one in a row.  Gotta start somewhere, I guess.

It was a lovely winter day in the Columbia Valley.  I enjoyed one of the spectacular views I get to see when "the mountains are out..." (a term, I'm told, that only die-hard Pacific Northwesterners understand.)  Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams were all out this afternoon.  An occasion, really; we can go weeks in the fall and winter without seeing them at all. 

Okay, so it's December 27th.  Two days after Christmas.  Already, at least 50% of the outdoor Christmas lights I enjoyed three days ago have been stripped down and packed away.  What's up with that?  When I was a kid, we used to leave our decorations, outdoor lights, tree, the whole nine yards, up until January 6th.  Christmas wasn't just the day.  All that time between Christmas and Epiphany was "the Christmas season."  These days, we're in such a rush to dive into the next thing, whatever it is, that we ditch Christmas forty-eight hours after crooning "Silent Night." 

I don't know...maybe the season has simply shifted.  We didn't put our decorations up the day after Thanksgiving in the old days.  So maybe the season is STILL a month long, it's just shifted ahead by two weeks.  Our attention span can only be so long, I guess.

Another phenomenon I witnessed today was Oregonians' fascination with washing their cars.  When the sun comes out in the winter, it doesn't matter if it's 35 degrees outside, fastidious car-owners of Oregon WILL wash their cars.  Today, on my three-mile walk around town, I encountered this ritual being played out no less than half a dozen times.  The sun was out, but it was surely no more than 45 degrees outside.  One young twenty-something couple was bustling around their driveway literally half-dressed:  He, shirtless and with his pants half down his butt, revealing his designer boxers, and she in short shorts, a lingerie tank top, and no shoes...cavorting around for all the world as if it was the middle of summer.  Meanwhile, I was trotting past with my dog, wearing a hoodie, my leather jacket, gloves, and wishing I hadn't let vanity talk me out of wearing my hat.

I'm sorry...I don't feel the need to wash my car in the middle of winter.  Too many years of living in the midwest, where that idea was so completely unthinkable, one would have been laughed out of the neighborhood had one attempted it.  Here in western Oregon, you KNOW if it's clear today, it's sure as hell gonna rain tomorrow.  So what, exactly, is the point?

I have to laugh sometimes at the Oregonian psyche.  Many of us are convinced we live just slightly north of Orange County.  Shorts, Birkenstocks, tank tops, t-shirts, and car-washing are as appropriate in mid-December as mid-July.  I'm convinced that less than 50% of the population owns a winter coat.  Me?  I come from Chicago. My native state imparted some basic knowledge that I look upon as necessary to survival---for instance, that goose bumps so large you could sand concrete with them indicate the need for a coat.   That when your hands freeze into the shape of T-Rex claws, this would be the time to put on gloves. And perhaps when your be-sandaled toes turn blue, with a slightly black tinge, you should think about putting on real shoes.  With socks, if possible. 

I attribute Oregonians' lack of common sense about winter clothing to the chronic ingestion of various intoxicants (past or present. ) Seems a likely explanation to me...      


  1. Great shot of the mountain. I think it may be the fog. Perhaps it's severe seasonal affective disorder. Something is whispering al la Svengali "must wear shorts, must wear shorts........" As I recall from some of your stories about the Chicago area-the worry wasn't "is the car clean?" it was "will the blessed thing start, and how many times will I have to get up during the night to make sure it starts, and I really hope the accelerator doesn't stick this time"

  2. Lisa, as you know I am a native Oregonian. I do own a heavy raincoat, that must count for something and yes I do have gloves and a hat. I don't know about the intoxicant theory, sounds like it could be a likely assumption!!!!!!! Great enty this had Rick and me laughing.
    I was thinking the same as you today about the Christmas light. I turned on my outdoor lights tonight and  I swear We were the ONLY house within the greater Portland Metro area to have the gall to turn them on. I felt like a total outcast1 Oh well, I still love looking at them!
    Beautiful picture of the mountain. I just love it when the mountains come out!

  3. I don't know, we seem to have the same thing here in Minnesota...I saw a guy wearing shorts the other day.  The temp outside was below zero.  Bizarre.  But people here do wash their cars all winter long, otherwise they would rust away from all the road salt.

  4. I am with you on the packing up of Christmas immediately after the day.  I was busy yesterday putting away gifts, but the ugly and now very dry tree with it puddle of ornaments at its base that it can no longer support stays as does the rest of the house until after New Years.  There is some folklore in the South about bad luck if you leave the tree up after the new year.  If this is true, that will explain some of my misery.... Kristi

  5. You sure can write.

    Which mountain is that?

  6. Isn't 45 degrees a heat wave in the dead of winter?  I just realized your colors are like the Dr. Suess Book Horton Hears a Hoot.  Great book.

  7. Lovely picture.  My husband does the car washing thing all throughout the winter too.  Makes no sense, but it makes him happy.  I hate everyone taking their lights down so soon too.  What's the rush?

  8. just a gorgeous photo!  Happy  Holidays!


  9. Lisa...I was in Wal-mart tonight and there are Valentines up already.  Oy....enough already with the pushing of holidays.

    Lovely picture of the mountain.....we had light dusting of snow here in the west and didn't see across the street much less across the state.  :)

  10. Hi Lisa-
    What a fabulous picture. I am filled with envy that you have such a lovely view. One day soon, I will have mountains and trees to look at all the time too.
    Funny about the washing the car thing. They are the same way here in Las Vegas! Complete idiots about keeping their cars clean.
    We have decided to leave our decorations up until New Years Day this year. This is our first Christmas in this great house and we just want to look at them a little while longer....LOL.

    Thanks again for the great picture!

  11. I don't understand the shorts, T shirts and sandals concept in the cold weather either.  I used to think you could spot a native Californian merely by their attire of shorts and Tees (and at least a sweatshirt in the cold weather) but both my kids were born here and they don't follow that rule.  Must be that the parents must be natives as well.  I'm from the east coast and I'm all bundled up walking through Safeway (which is always freezing) and I'm amazed at the garb some of these people wear (or don't!).  Aren't they cold too but putting up a brave front because they think they look so good?  What's so pretty about blue toes?  Love your mountain picture; it's gorgeous.

  12. Amazing view!  Simply Amazing.  All I get to look out on is the pool of doom or cows.  pfft.  I want a mountain too.  whine. ~Sie

  13. beautiful picture

    Donna In TEXAS

  14. So what are you saying?  You are not going to wash your car? LOL! I have seen that mountain on a post card, I know I have.

  15. The only time my car ever gets washed is when it's anticipating a date with valet parking ;)  It's possible that the scantily-clad couple hail from my neck of the woods, although Californians tend to bundle up whenever the local temp dips into the mid 60's ~ how else to explain all those cashmere scarves and fur(like) coats on the racks at Nordstrom's?

    We always kept our Christmas Lights up until February, or until the neighbors complained, whichever came first.  Merry late Christmas!  :)

  16. Or, as I have oft heard, the crazies up there are the transplanted Californians.
    :-) ---Robbie