Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: To the Scrooges of Spokane, the holiday season ain’t all garland and mistletoe

FILE – Martin Ekenes, playing Ebenezer Scrooge, runs lines with Bret Ulrich’s Bob Cratchit during a dress rehearsal of Scrooge on Nov. 1, 2006, in Spokane Valley. (Joe Barrentine / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Martin Ekenes, playing Ebenezer Scrooge, runs lines with Bret Ulrich’s Bob Cratchit during a dress rehearsal of Scrooge on Nov. 1, 2006, in Spokane Valley. (Joe Barrentine / The Spokesman-Review)

We’re just about to that time of year when Spokane’s cynics are apt to get their wish.


Yes, I know we’re fast approaching a season of glad tidings and great joy. But the fact of the matter is, that be-of-good-cheer stuff rubs a few folks in Spokane the wrong way.

I’ll tell you why. For some, the idea that we’re all soon to be high on a holly jolly holiday mood is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has lived here awhile.

You see, gushing about rosy-cheeked holiday vibes and pretending that everyone around here is a person of goodwill can be annoying. Because let’s face it, that is simply not true.

Cynics know something. It’s this: Spokane has its share of miscreants. Shouldn’t everyone realize this by now? How often do we need to be reminded?

But have no fear, grouches. Every holiday season brings with it at least a few jaw-dropping reality checks. That’s what I meant about cynics getting their wish.

They get to see dispatches from the media about the ignoble side of human nature.

Here’s a partial list. Feel free to check it twice.

Local news stories about packages being stolen off front porches: This has become a seasonal favorite among Spokane’s unreformed Grinches and Scrooges. Sometimes these stories are accompanied by video of thieves brazenly walking up to porches and snatching just-delivered boxes.

Apparently, instead of watching Hallmark Channel movies all day, some people in our midst follow delivery trucks around and audaciously help themselves to packages left outside someone’s home.

Yes, that’s known as stealing. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to trouble certain local residents.

Vandalism: Now this isn’t restricted to this time of year. It happens all the time. But when it involves a seasonal theme, well, it can warm the hearts of those who wish everyone would open their eyes and realize some people in Spokane are simply no damn good.

Stolen outdoor holiday decorations: Nothing says wake up and smell the eggnog quite like a news story about some local loser ripping off festive Christmas lights or inflatable reindeer.

Stolen holiday charity funds: If generous souls are going to drop money in a donation kettle, a box or whatever, at least a few others will try to figure out how to steal same. Yes, that’s grotesque. But the cynics in our midst would remind us that life in Spokane is not just one unending gingerbread feed.

Sure, it’s not unusual for people in Spokane to hear about these stories and rush to replace whatever was stolen. That’s nice. The good people outnumber the crooks, by a North Pole mile.

And you really can’t blame someone for gasping, after watching video that captured a shameless theft, and wondering, “How could a person do something like that?”

Even if we all know the answer. A lot of people who ought to be in jail aren’t.

None of this is unique to Spokane, of course. Only the least informed Lilac City basher would suggest otherwise.

But a few local cynics simply crave a dose of reality as the holidays approach.

They don’t wish anyone ill or feel joy about someone’s misfortune. They simply want the rest of us to wise up. Is that too much to ask?

They just wish it was not assumed that authentic holiday spirit is an automatic, universal condition infecting all of us. Perhaps, that way, the real thing might have a chance to creep up and embrace us when we least expect it.

Just wondering

What if, in 1987’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” advertising executive Neal Page, played by Steve Martin, had been trying to get home to Spokane for Thanksgiving, instead of Chicago?

He probably wouldn’t have been such a snob at the outset.

There would have been far fewer flights to try for as a Plan B.

The train could have gotten Neal and shower ring salesman Del Griffith, played by John Candy, here at 3 a.m., several days after Thanksgiving.

Del still would have looked at their mangled rental car and said, “Oh yeah, that’ll buff right out.”

Immigration officials would have questioned them at the bus station upon their arrival in Spokane.

Neither of them would have cared about the Chicago Bears.

Neal’s little boy wouldn’t have looked like such a sissy.

Candy’s performance during the Ray Charles song playing on the car radio would not have changed.

One of them would have befriended that menacing dog in the back of the pickup.

Neal’s wife, a woman made of sterner stuff in this version, would have taken it all a bit more in stride.

Contact the writer at

More from this author