Well, if I had my druthers I’d stay here at Portland's 1913 historic Benson Hotel for Christmas and pitch all other “traditions.” No cooking, no cleaning, no running around… I’d bring my family and I’d smuggle my dog in, let her jump on the bed, and stay through New Year’s
Actually it’d be a tough choice… Portland has some really wonderful hotels: The Heathman (their door men greet you in Beefeater costumes), The Nines in the old offices of Meier and Frank building (Luxury transformed… I worked up there on a freelance basis; it used to be an absolute pit), Hotel Lucia (swanky!), Ace Hotel (where hipsters bond over latte foam’d beards), Crystal Hotel (historic quirky), and what the goshdarnheck, The Kimpton Hotel Monaco (a hidden gem). Guess I'll just have to put them all on my list and get back to you on my favorite.
Nevertheless, here’s The Benson at Christmas. The tree was impressive and did the lobby justice. Don’t touch it though (The Mister did and a piece of it broke off. Oops! Luckily no one saw. *snorts, laughs*) It’s dry as a bone and no surprise there because a 20-foot Douglas Fir needs a fire hose to keep it watered properly.
Alas, we did not see Simon Benson (the original owner) among the 300 poinsettias; apparently he still hangs around even though he’s dead. A true Christmas ghost tale, Dickens be damned. Careful! That Mr. Benson knocks people's cocktails off of the bar. When he was alive he was a teetotaler (it's also why he also installed the famous 52 Benson Bubbler water fountains that dot the city).
Sweetly, the hotel is hosting a toy drive for drop-off and non-alcoholic, hot cider with cookies. Pretty sure our Mr. Benson would have approved of that.
Our Christmas tradition of going downtown to see Santa Claus, get a photo, view the ginormous Christmas tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square, lunch at Nordstrom’s Café, and general browsing/shopping has had to change. We can still do most of the things on that list, but Macy’s (formerly Meier and Frank) which housed Santa Land closed down last year and honestly, The Daughters are too big for Santa photos.
I have been wanting for years to visit The Benson Hotel’s 46-year tradition of a massive Gingerbread creation in their lobby. This year Chef Diffendorfer, who has been doing it for the past 25 years, based it off the Lichtenstein Castle in the German Alps (Lichtenstein meaning “shining stone,” — Get. Out. How romantic is that?). There’s 150 pounds of gingerbread there, people, along with 20 pounds of white chocolate and marzipan and get this: Rice Crispy Treats underneath. It was like the "Sound of Music" in sugar; old world charm at it’s finest.
Breathtaking in person and just a perfect as I imagined it.
Wow. So, November... almost the end of December and I am finally posting. The reason? November was horrible. Horrible. Bad news. Stupid stuff. Just horrible. It's still pretty sucky, but whatever. Right now I'm just trying to get through Christmas.
I had purchased tickets for two events in Portland long before said Bad News, so when the events came up they were a tremendous respite. Bill Murray, along with cellist Jan Vogler and Friends, performed at the Schnitz. It was music, literature, poetry, more music, Bill Murray dancing, Bill Murray singing, Bill Murray tossing (and then pummeling) long stem roses at the Rose City audience.
Very beautiful. Very funny.
The second event was at the Alberta Rose Theater with an LA comedy troupe, along with Kevin McDonald, called Fake Radio. They performed "It's A Wonderful Life" from a 1947 radio script, complete with period radio commercials. Adorned in old timey costumes they also threw in random Improv which was the crowning glory of it all. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. They promised to come back since Portland showed them so much love; I just hope they don't raise the ticket prices when they do.
So, here's to the healthy diversions in life. May there be many.