Holy holidays, hipsters. Is it that time already?

The Oregon Symphony's annual "Gospel Christmas" concert rocks the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

By Bob Hicks

It’s true. Mr. Scatter, in his semi-official capacity as regional chronicler of the wintry festivities, has published a pair of guides to holiday concerts and shows in this morning’s A&E section of The Oregonian.

Three weeks before Thanksgiving. But not, in Mr. Scatter’s defense, before Halloween. (And in that regard, ask Mrs. Scatter sometime how the giant gargoyle on the front porch came to have its ugly little plaster mug smashed in.)

Finn Henell as Pinocchio and Josh Murry as Gerard the Shopkeeper in The Portland Ballet's "La Boutique Fantasque." Photo: Blaine Truitt CovertThe Twelve Shows of Christmas gives the lowdown on a selection of Portland’s big-deal holiday events — things like The Nutcracker and Tuba Christmas, which are not only inevitable but also oddly alluring. The Scatter Family is sure to hit several of them.

Resisting the early arrival of the holidays? includes a lot of smaller, often quirkier shows that appeal to Mr. Scatter’s sense of seasonal follies, including the neo-Piaf band Padam Padam and the sackbutt-blatting Oregon Renaissance Band. It also evokes the not-so-sainted memories of Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Harry Simeone Chorale. You’ll have to hit that link button (or pick up your dead-tree copy) to find out how.

Mr. Scatter holds no truck with the evil-sounding phrase Black Friday — sounds like the antichrist getting ready for Easter — and can denounce the commercialization of the holidays with the best of ’em. But he recognizes that the many among us who actually enjoy all these winter festivities must make plans and buy tickets, and if they put it off too long, the tickets might be gone. In that light, November 5 doesn’t sound premature, after all.

The Scatters count themselves among the holiday-smitten. Around this time of year Mr. Scatter hears a lot of humbugs and harrumphs from his friends, and he understands where they’re coming from. This can be the crassest and most craven of seasons. And there’s always the danger that Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber will come out with an album of heartfelt holiday tunes.

But if Mr. Scatter weren’t already known as Mr. Scatter, he might dub himself The Optimist in Spite of Himself. He knows the world is going to hell in a handbasket and that at any rate the idea of the specialness of the human race  would be a subject of cosmic jocularity if only the Cosmos would bother to take a peek at our shabby little microscopic side show. He bemoans his own predilection toward crankiness and sullen incivility and outright antisocial outbursts. Yet he can’t help also believing that surely our little lives mean something beyond their surrounding sleep, even if to no one but ourselves and those around us. He believes that in spite of our squabbles and selfishness and inability to grapple with troubles we do not care to imagine as a race because the implications are too frightening, the possibility of improvement is innate to us. He’s not sure we’ll ever get there, but he believes that someday, in spite of ourselves, we might actually stumble into happiness. He is an optimist, in spite of himself.

The Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Winter Troll season reminds him of all of that, and helps take the edge off. An occasional brandy and eggnog doesn’t hurt, either.

So happy holidays. Even if it is November the Fifth.

The Trail Band, bringing Christmas Past into the present. Photo: Keith Buckley


Some previous posts about the holidays:

PHOTOS, from top:

  • The Oregon Symphony’s annual “Gospel Christmas” concert rocks the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
  • Finn Henell as Pinocchio and Josh Murry as Gerard the Shopkeeper in The Portland Ballet’s “La Boutique Fantasque.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert
  • The Trail Band, bringing Christmas Past into the present. Photo: Keith Buckley