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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: We’re dreaming of your next visit, just like the one that must end now

So now it’s time to say goodbye.

At least for Inland Northwest families whose holiday guests from out of town are about to head home.

Do you think the Spokane area has a distinctive style when it comes to saying goodbye?

This came to mind last week as I was sitting in an airport, paging through Minnesota Monthly magazine. There was a short, amusing piece about how the good people of that state go about saying goodbye this time of year. The writer suggested the process of getting out the door isn’t always a simple, seamless escape.

“Oh, Cindy? We forgot to show Marty the picture.”

And so on. One step forward, two steps back.

Anyway, this made me think of Spokane. How do we do it here?

Sweeping generalizations can be ridiculous, of course. But one thing came to mind.

Spokane isn’t always the easiest place to get to, at least from far away. Our city is a bit remote. (Extremely remote by some definitions.) For many friends and relations, ours is a connecting flight/long drive destination.

So once far-flung loved ones actually get here, we’re sometimes reluctant to let them go.

That’s why, I think, saying goodbye in Spokane isn’t always a quick matter of ushering your guests out the door and sending them on their way.

Some of us want to make the moment linger. We can’t help it. Even if everyone will be sort of glad to get back to their normal lives.

Sure, Uncle Meriwether spent hours peering into the refrigerator and your granddaughter devoted an ungodly amount of time to doing who-knows-what in the bathroom.

Soon you’ll miss them though. So if we hang on a few minutes extra or drag out the final departure, well, it’s understandable.

“Are you sure you won’t take some more pie?”

Saying goodbye can be about saying I love you. And in the Spokane area, it can also mean “Thanks for coming, I know it can be a bit of a pain to get here.”

Not all of us are huggers. But there are different ways of holding someone in your heart.

Sometimes those of us offering farewells just want to get it right.

How do we say goodbye in Spokane?

By hanging on, in one way or another, for as long as we can.

Perhaps this has happened to you: You’re with family in another part of the country. It’s the holidays. And some sound system in a shopping mall, big-box store or restaurant starts playing a Bing Crosby song.

You find it almost impossible to resist bringing up the late singer’s Spokane connections. Even if your sister-in-law has heard it all before.

“Ah, the North Side kid’s unmistakable voice.”

“What? Huh? Oh, Bing Crosby. He was from Spokane. Right. As I was saying …”

But here’s the thing. None of us is getting any younger. The number of people for whom Bing is even remotely relevant is shrinking.

Yes, he was one of the towering figures of the 20th century. But that was then. This is now.

So I sort of feel like those of us of a certain age, at least if we’re from Spokane, need to beat the drum about Crosby when we find ourselves far from the Lilac City.

Think of it as missionary work, Spokane style.

There are people out there who think Mr. White Christmas grew up in Southern California. I can’t singlehandedly disabuse them all of that notion. So give me a hand, OK?

Things that would be cool: Wouldn’t you like to have a printout showing how many days, from birth, you had spent in each of the 50 states – including time spent driving through or flying over various states?

I’ve been to 48 states and would enjoy seeing a breakdown.

Washington would be my clear No. 1, but after that it would get interesting.

How about you?

Next up: There’s a reason some of us have not started shopping for Christmas presents. It’s because some people are all but impossible to buy gifts for.

It makes the selection process a bit of a challenge.

My late parents were that way. Oh, they generally tried to be reasonably polite. They weren’t like Ralphie and Randy in “A Christmas Story,” pitching gift socks over their shoulders as they pawed through the presents in search of some good stuff. But you could tell my folks had zero plans to actually make use of the presents in question.

Let’s just say they didn’t exactly embrace change and leave it at that.

But there’s a way to shop for such people. You can make your selections with the idea of the recipients regifting your offering at some point in the near future.

Just wondering: Think about all that’s happened in our society in recent years. Then answer me this: As an institution, are alcohol fueled company-sponsored holiday office parties dead as a doornail in Spokane?

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