Rained in.

If you, like me, are used to a snow-white holiday season in your hometown each winter, the bleak and soggy nightmare we call winter in Portland can’t begin to compare.

For one thing, there usually isn’t any snow to speak of, except in the mountains where it’s hidden out of sight behind an endless army of rain clouds from the Pacific. And if we do get some snow, forget about going anywhere until it melts. Snow means ice, Oregon means hills, and that means danger. Portland is about as prepared for winter snowfall as it is for bird influenza.

Then there’s the whole holiday food angle. This time of year brings back sweet memories of elaborate dinners and desserts, cookies and comfort food, tea and apple cider. All things that you won’t be getting because you’re stuck here for the holidays, with microwave burritos and Ramen.

Yes, a winter in Oregon without your family (read: supplier of food and warmth) can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be all bad. Here are some tricks to staying happy this dreary season.

Be creative

What do you, Van Gogh and Edgar Allen Poe all have in common? If you guessed talent, you’re wrong. The answer is severe depression. Whether you’re starting yet another emo band or filling your journal with priceless drivel, nothing quite justifies your miserable existence like making art of the whoa-is-me variety. It’s all about sublimation. Paint away your loneliness, scream away your hunger, write away your feelings of worthlessness. Just don’t show it to anybody. Please.

Drink good beer

The Pacific Northwest has some of the best breweries in the entire world. Portland itself can boast of jumpstarting the craft-brewing craze of the 1980s, earning the slogan "beer capital of the world" in the process. This time of year is especially nice because many brewers release special holiday beers, perhaps made precisely for lonely students (of age, of course) stranded thousands of miles away from their loved ones. Either way, Washington’s Pyramid Snow Cap Ale is a good place to start artificially sprucing up your mood. Portland’s BridgePort Ebenezer Ale and Bend’s Deschutes Jubelale are equally up to the challenge.

Find a snuggle buddy

Through the magic of science, the rainy season triggers a switch inside the human body that results in a chemical reaction causing an urgent search for a mate to hibernate through the winter with. Lucky for you, this happens to everyone. Unlucky for you, those holiday brews you’ll be drinking significantly impair your judgment and make you feel more attractive than you really are. If January rolls around and you’re still drinking alone, you may have to settle for a platonic relationship with a pet from the local shelter. Then again, you might try investing in an expensive dog and walking it through the Pearl like trolling in a fishing boat for a wealthy winter catch.

Live life vicariously

If all else fails, you can probably make it through until spring with a pile of good books from Powell’s on West Burnside Street. If you’re not one of those "reading" types, you could survive with a stack of distracting movies from Movie Madness on Southeast Belmont Street. And if you’re a total wreck, there’s always MySpace.