Becoming Alaskan: Celebrating Christmas – Alaskan style

  • Sunday, December 6, 2015 1:00am
  • Neighbors

Endless aisles of ribbon and wrapping paper. Glittery, spangled trees in all shapes and sizes. Ubiquitous Christmas carols floating through every speaker. Brace yourselves, folks — the holidays are upon us.

As the throws of celebratory bliss descend upon us all, I’d like to take a minute, pour a glass of wine (or two), and appreciate some of the things that make me grateful to be on this road to becoming an Alaskan.

1. The meme possibilities are endless. Bears crashing a child’s cupcake-filled birthday (literally). Santa Claus being elected to the city council of North Pole. The salmon-forty-seven. You can’t make this stuff up.

2. Hiking, fishing, skiing — the list goes on. It’s an outdoor playland up here (don’t even get me started on the scenery). It’s no wonder that as soon as the sun shows its face or the snow flies in the mountains everyone is tripping over their Xtratufs to get out the door. The scenery is an Instagram-ers paradise, with so many gorgeous settings that #nofilter almost goes without saying. I recently read a Hotwire article that said the most tweeted travel and leisure emoji for Alaska was a smiley-face with hearts for eyes. This is not all that surprising, especially if you’ve ever been to the Mendenhall Glacier in the summer when the tourists roll in.

3. I now know three different ways to make salmon. This paltry number is probably blasphemy to the ears of anyone who has grown up here. But I’m from Washington and — not for nothing — we have our fair share of fresh seafood. Yet, these are three more ways to make salmon than I knew before moving to Alaska. Whether or not I make salmon well is another question. The baked teriyaki salmon recipe I tried had the same consistency as leather. Incidentally, this may be a sweet business opportunity; I’m going to have to look up those guys at Tidal Vision. Maybe they need stock material for their wallets…

4. Alaska is an entire state of creative doers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, besides three salmon recipes, it’s that there are few things you can’t do. If you want to learn how to fish all summer and take up block printing in the winter, then you just do it. Why not write a novel while experimenting with brewing beer in your spare time? Even better, you can usually find a place to put those talents to work in the community. You can hardly move for all the classes on pottery, painting, climbing, scuba diving … the list goes on. The only real question here is how you’re going to find time for all your new hobbies.

5. Whether you’ve grown up here and spend the holidays with your family, or you and your closest friends/neighbors/co-workers host a Friendsgiving full of transplants, Alaska is all about community. Christmas and New Years are no different. On my first Christmas in Alaska, a group of friends and I stayed in a state park cabin — complete with string lights and a Santa Claus costume.

Today my roommate and I are going to find a wild, Alaskan Christmas tree — the first one I will have ever owned that did not come from a parking lot (or a box). So bring on the turkey (or salmon), gingerbread houses, and plenty of mulled wine. ‘Tis the season — Alaska style.

• Sarah Cannard is a transplant from the Lower 48 who enjoys long walks on Sandy Beach, Carolans with her coffee and days when her socks match. Follow her on Twitter @becomingalaskan.

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