Our strongest link to past memories lies just at the end of our noses. Smell is that one sense that can help us remember our childhood experiences, and it’s especially true of Christmas!
Artificial trees can be beautiful but they lack one thing — the smell of Christmas! Just a sniff and a whiff of a pine tree takes me back to when my children were small. We drove up to the foothills and wandered through the many trees until we found the perfect one. It was a wonderful day and the kids loved running through the many pines and helping their daddy drag it back to the car.
Back then we drove a Ford Pinto Wagon. We hadn’t anticipated that our prize tree would be so large it couldn’t be tied to the roof. So, we fed it through the back hatch so the tip rested on the dashboard. That little car was filled with that tree from the front to the very back. The rich smell of pine filled the car and my cute little kids were wedged between its large branches. They didn’t complain and seemed to love being snuggled in the branches of their Christmas tree.
The Smells of Christmas
I also love putting on a big pot of cider during the holidays. The smells of the orange juice and apple cider fill the house with Christmas. I load it with orange peels, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. It’s better than any candle or can of air fragrance. I get a big ladle and pour each of the grandkids a mug of their own. They always look forward to it and they know I’ve made it as soon as they walk through the door.
I always arrive at my parents’ house early on Christmas morning while it is still dark. Mama always decorates the picket fences with big velvety ribbons and lights. The air is crisp and the smell of wood smoke from daddy’s fire in the living room tell me it will be a wonderful day. Some things should never change. This is one of them.
My mama’s kitchen is just the perfect place to be on Christmas morning. She cooks bacon and sausage and sometimes a ham. There’s always a big skillet of sausage gravy laden with pepper just the way us Okies like it. Homemade hot rolls are baking in the oven with a cheesy quiche. She loads up a platter with scrambled eggs and I always search around until I find all the yummy pies and cookies she’s baked.
Making Christmas Memories
Once the grandkids arrive, the chaos begins and new memories are born. Every year is different with my growing brood. As an only child, I always wanted a big family to enjoy. Now ten grandkids fill my life and Christmas is more wonderful than I ever could have dreamed. Now I have four teenagers and the youngest is only two. Now that’s a lot of kids and so much fun!
The older I get, the more I cherish these special occasions when all of the family is together. I don’t know how many years my parents will be around, so I am so grateful for another year and another perfect day with all the kids and all the smells of Christmas.
So if you want your older loved one to smell their way back to Christmases of long ago, bring in the pine boughs and put on a pot of cider. Bake a few cookies and listen to stories that only your loved one can tell.