As publisher of Artslandia and Playbills NW I am uniquely aware of the performing arts schedules around this city. As we busily send holiday playbill after holiday playbill to press from Artslandia headquarters, our staff can’t help but notice a common theme running through this lovely holiday season. And that theme is “F**k Christmas.”
What the what? How dare you! Dial it back, haters. From Twist your Dickens to Santaland Diaries at Portland Center Stage, to X-mas Unplugged at Artists Rep, to It’s a Somewhat Wonderful Life at Bag&Baggage, Portland’s stages are shouting bah humbug while raising their middle fingers. But why? I began to wonder to what can we attribute this all out WAR ON CHRISTMAS!! Not a Sarah Palin war on Christmas of course, this one is actually real and taking place on the stages of our beloved artslandia. Can it be that Portland has no holiday spirit? Can it be that this wonderful season has been swallowed by Portland’s black hole of sarcasm? These are questions I needed answered not for myself, but for humanity. Does Portland need a Christmas Cheerleader, and if so must I dust off my pom-poms to captain the squad? I’ll do it. I will save Christmas.
A little background, I love Santa way more than the next guy, and I guarantee more than you (yes, you reading this). My house will be gleaming with silver and gold the day after Thanksgiving, just after we cut down the most perfect tree in the forest, tie it to car, and put it in my antique tree stand all while singing Jingle Bells. Our nutcracker collection will stand at attention on our mantle. Each fondly named by us with a sharpie at the moment of arrival into the Tompoles household. I could name them here, oh I could, but I won’t. Our shelves will have 24 little christmas tree cones hiding a little surprise underneath for my son to count down to the big day. Our tree ornaments will tell the stories of vacations befallen by desperate searches for the loveliest bedazzled glass embodiment of that particular destination. My favorite is a gorgeous young Elvis purchased where else but Graceland, carried with the utmost care from Memphis to Tampa to Houston to Portland. Our outdoor lights would make Walt Disney proud and slightly pissed by the shade we will be throwing on his electric light parade. And finally, we will hire the perfect Santa to not only record our outgoing voicemail message, but also to answer our door the whole of month of December. Well, maybe, I haven’t thought that one through. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! Then as fate would have it, I was flipping through the channels last night, that’s right TV, and came across the Lifetime Channel gem, Christmas Angel. It was only NOVEMBER 12th! I was certain that at every commercial break somewhere in the world an angel was having wings plucked. THERE IT WAS! It is not us waging a war against Christmas, but instead, Christmas was waging a war on us with the Lifetime Channel as general.
Are we not allowed to enjoy the other cherished fall holidays? I say, let go of that turkey leg rotund fellow in the red suit. Let the Pilgrims and Indians have their day. Let us feast on corn and cranberries and unbutton our pants afterward. Let us breathe for Christ’s sake, literally! And what about Halloween, my second favorite holiday, it deserves its day of revelry, trickstering, and frankly debauchery without fear of you know who watching everything we do. He knows when you’ve been bad and good, so be good for goodness sake. Well maybe we could “be good” if you weren’t a total buzz kill lurking around the aisles of dollar tree while I am trying to get disposable rubber gloves to fill with water and freeze (pinterest) for our spiked punch bowl. Can we delay the shopping anxiety until the last possible moment? Do I need to be reminded of my gifting obligations to spinster Aunt Sally’s pomeranian in early October. Make it go away baby jesus! OH MY GOD, it is contagious!
So I guess what I am trying to say is – I get it. I am a hopeless defender of holiday spirit, but I understand why the show posters around town are inviting us to irreverent holiday shows littered with f-bombs directed at the likes of Rudolph, George Bailey, Norman Rockwell, Ebenezer Scrooge, and of course Kris Kringle himself. We have been forced to become ungracious holiday hosts because Mr. and Mrs. Claus have become Neverleaves. They arrived at the party not only first, but two hours early. I still haven’t showered a-holes! And now as the evening winds down, I still see that jolly couple sitting in the corner of the living room sipping hot toddies telling the same damn stories they told last year. Place my new crock pot under the tree and leave already!
I love you, Santa.
Artslandia + PlaybillsNW
I recently saw Twist Your Dickens at Portland Center Stage with a group of six friends. It was hysterical, and a good time for all of us. Yes, it is irreverent and at times cringe worthy for the lack of any semblance of political correctness. However, it was just the show we needed to kick off the holiday madness. Laughter after all makes everything better, especially the Lifetime Channel.