Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brad's Top Ten List: Winter Activities

Well, it's that time of year again! Jill Frost nipping at your nose, trying to fit way too many ornaments on your tree, Egg Nog I.V. attached, procrastinating Christmas shopping, funny hats, feeling guilty about not keeping "Christ in Christmas," everyone wishing for snow and then everyone complaining about snow. Winter!

Well, my seasonal tradition (beginning last season) is to blog about my top ten favorite season activities. Here goes:

Top Ten Winter Activities
10. Christmas Music: This year, I broke my normal promise of waiting until after Thanksgiving. This is the year of the Indie Christmas Album. Sufjan Stevens, Pedro the Lion, Death Cab for Cutie to name a few, have come out with Holiday albums in the last few years. I am definitely diggin these sounds. My Pandora is set to Sufjan Stevens Holiday right now in fact (smile). Other favorites include Burl Ives, Jewel, Norah Jones, and you guessed it, Miriah Carey - THAT'S RIGHT I SAID IT! Miriah Carey's voice can grill a cheese sandwich. Mariah Carey's voice can cure cancer cells. Mariah Carey's voice can power a small generator. Miriah Carey's voice can cut through fog! Holy Night she's good!

9. Reading: Blanket? Check. Toasty fire? Check. Thick novel? Check. Just finished Jonathon Franzen's Corrections and before that Freedom. Now I am working my way though The Brothers Karamazov.

8. Christmas Lights: I remember growing up you could always could on certain houses to keep up their lighting traditions. Some blinking lights, another an odd teal color, an old barn with a ringing bell. Then about twelve years ago things started getting really trendy. It started with the icicle lights. Everyone had to have them. At the drug store I worked at we kept selling out. Out went the large multi-color, primary color 80's style lights of my childhood. In came blowup, light-up yard decorations. For me, the cheesier the better. One popular neigbhorhood to visit is Portland's Peacock Lane I'm not sure if it's worth all the hype and traffic. I prefer winding around my local neigbhorhoods with some hot cocoa saying ooooh and aaaw and preeeetty!

7. Snow Shoeing: Mount hood has a number of great spots. The further you go up the mountain the more expensive the shoe rentals. Meadowlark Ski and Snowboard rents snowshoes for $15 a day. For trail suggestions click here

6. The Grotto: The official, Catholic name for the Grotto is the National Sancuary of our Sorrowful Mother. But don't let that fool you, it's a great holiday destination. Around Christmas time, it's a one-stop-extravaganza-palluza of Holiday cheer. Lights, Manger animals, Live Music (vocal and instrumental), and a lit up, narrator "stations of the manger" tour. If you are the last person in Portland who has never gone it is worth the trip. This is actually a great place to visit when it's not in Holiday mode, when you can access the 62 acre botanical and shrine garden.

5. The Beach: I know, this one seems a little counterintuitive. But in the Northwest, sometimes you can have more mild weather at the coast than inland. My friends and I have a nine (?) year tradition of heading to Cannon Beach on New Years Eve. It's really a perfect day. Walking the beach, grabbing coffee at Bella's whist playing Settlers, then dinner at a local pub. My family and I spent last weekend at Twin Rocks camp in Rockaway Beach, OR. I was playing Frisbee, barefoot and in my tee-shirt. We witnessed a few brave souls even jump into the ocean. They all claimed, "it's not too bad." I'll just take their word for it.

4. My Birthday: Decemeber 21st, the first official day of winter. A lot of people ask me if it's hard having a birthday so close to Christmas. Really, it's never been much of a problem for me. Sure, sometimes I get the birthday/Christmas combo present. Sometimes my birthday is overshadowed by Christmas. But I know that Jesus understands. I mean, his birthday is like on Christmas. Man that would be tough. "Oh what's this...Myrrh? Just what a baby needs... Oh, it's a Birthday/Christmas present. I bet he got that a lot.

3. Impromptu Snow Fights: The best ones are never planned. They just happen. Someone throws a snowball, someone puts snow down your shirt, someone gets tackled. Running, slipping, throwing frantically. That perfect throw, thwap! Then everyone all red and cold coming in for hot cocoa.

2. Getting Snowed In: Being on "snow time" is different from any other time. Can't go to work, or school, or anywhere. But it's way better than being stuck. It feels a lot more like being freed.

1. Christmas and Christmas Eve. I love that it's really more of a two day holiday. Once, as a child on Christmas eve, eve I was so excited I woke up at 2am and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm no quite that giddy anymore, but I get to relive that magic all over with my kids who are that perfect age to share Christmas with.

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