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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 21, 2017)
DECEMBER 21, 2017 // 9
out, giving you precious free time to
surf Expedia looking for last-minute
plane tickets to Fiji.
Step 2: Traditional menu
Christmas dinner is no time to
Trust me when I tell you that, while
friends and family are flying thousands
of miles, they’re still expecting turkey
and fruit cake, not hummus and kale.
One year, I got the notion to break
from tradition and present a Mexican
feast to my out-of-town guests.
My wife and I toiled all night and
into the next day over tamales, re-fried
beans, fresh salsa and guacamole.
Proudly presenting the fruits of our
labor, you’d have thought we served
boiled tree bark on death row. It prob-
ably didn’t help we served it on paper
“You really shouldn’t have,” one
guest said, which is Midwestern for
“You really shouldn’t have.”
Another year I served salmon, a
beautiful, mouth-watering filet from
Ecola Seafoods. I assumed it would be
a fantastic introduction to local cuisine.
“Too fishy,” one guest complained
with a sour expression. This from
someone who defines “fresh caught” as
eating at Red Lobster.
One attempt at rebellion I’ve kept,
however, is my centerpiece, which fea-
tures a collage of empty Ft. George beer
cans, sand dollars and driftwood bits.
Martha Stewart would cringe, but a guest
actually asked me to make him one.
“Sure thing,” I said as I shoved him
towards his waiting taxi.
One caveat: If you are committed
to cooking a big dinner, have plenti-
ful snacks on hand for the inevitable
power outage, something that is com-
monplace here but not so much in the
There are only so many times you
can assure your relatives the power
will be on soon before facing a mutiny.
Yes, traditional holiday dinner is a
lot of work, but it always makes my
guests feel at home.
When they feel at home they’re
happy, which means I’m happy.
Step 3: Hit the town
Now it’s time to introduce your vis-
itors to the sights and sounds of your
Consider this a near-repeat of Step
One, but instead of taking in natural
beauty, you’re being a local yuletide
Whether it’s strolling Commercial
Street, Broadway, Hemlock or Laneda,
there’s miles and miles of sidewalk
with which to awe your guests.
There will be plenty of shops and
restaurants open and decorated with
I enjoy taking my charges on a beer
tour, which is, admittedly, more for my
benefit than theirs.
Nothing injects holiday cheer into
a family gathering faster than a locally
A go-to spot is the Columbia River
Maritime Museum, where miles of fas-
cinating exhibits can occupy even the
most skeptical Midwesterner for a min-
imum of three hours, more than enough
time for me to revisit parts of my beer
tour that need further attention.
Luckily, there’s also plenty of local
events scattered throughout Decem-
ber: Holiday Tea and Plum Pudding at
the Flavel House Museum (Tuesday
through Saturday, Dec. 26 through 30)
and a Winter Holiday Concert with
The Trail Band at Coaster Theatre
(Wednesday, Dec. 27). Each will
appeal to families looking for a little
Plus, it’s always fun to wander
the streets and shops of
the North Coast, rain or
shine. An added bonus: It’s
always amusing to see the
confusion on my relatives’
faces when they aren’t
charged sales tax.
Finally, I usually hit a
home run when it comes time to ex-
I only give items that are unique to
the North Coast, and there’s nothing
more satisfying than seeing my visitors
gleefully decked out in a Public Coast
Brewing hat and a Goonies t-shirt
while paging through a copy of Don
All things — good and stressful —
Each year, as my guests pack up
and prepare for the trek back to the
wintry Midwest, I realize how much
I’ve enjoyed playing Christmas host.
As I consider the sprawling mess
they’ve left behind, it occurs to me that
I miss the laughter, the packed house,
even the complaints about rain.
“I can’t wait until next year,” I
always tell my wife.
She smiles lovingly.
“Neither can I,” she always re-
sponds. “Because you’re taking me to