Smelling, hearing, tasting and seeing Christmas


1. Santa always left oranges, 2. Before the fudge..., 3. A child's Christmas wishes..., 4. Technicolor Red

I've waxed nostalgic this week thinking about all the memories of Christmases past. As I've reflected, I've found it interesting how many of the memories are sensory memories--smells, sounds, tastes and colors.

I keep all our Christmas decorations in plastic storage boxes in our walk-in attic. When it's time to decorate the house I go "shopping" in the attic and hand-pick the decorations I feel like featuring that year. I don't ever put out all the decorations at once. It would be exhaustive and way too cluttered. Instead, I like to "shop" for things I've forgotten we have or special items that I always remember when I think of decorating for Christmas.

A few years ago, my mother sat down with me and my brother and sister and we divided up all the Christmas decorations we had known as children. Each of us got to keep the things that mattered most to us while divesting my mother of the burden of storing so much.

This year, as I dug through one of the boxes of Christmas decorations I came across the jingle bell door hangers that my mom made about 40 years ago. The bells ring with a deep rich tone just as I have always thought the jingle bells on Santa's reindeer should sound. As my hands pawed through the box, the sound of the bells resonated up through the decorations. To me, that is the sound of Christmas.

Both Hubby and I are big fans of old classic movies, particularly old Christmas classics. One of our favorites is White Christmas. We popped it into the DVD player earlier this week to watch the digitally remastered and restored version we have in our cherished holiday collection. As I watched the brilliant dance numbers in glorious technicolor I found myself drawn to the reds over and over again. To me, that is the color of Christmas.

As I chatted with my mother on the phone this week, we reflected on the homemade Christmas treats that we considered to be the quintessential treat that always meant it was Christmas. Interestingly, it is different for the both of us. For my mom, it is the special butter cookies colored with green food coloring and sprinkled with colored sugar that her mother made every year. And although my mom continued that tradition for us, the Christmas treat I always associate with Christmas is my mom's homemade fudge. The creamy chocolate goodness melting in my mouth and sliding down my throat is what I remember. To me, that is the taste of Christmas.

Every year for as long as I can remember, an orange was left in the toe of my Christmas stocking. After digging my way through the contents of my bulging stocking, the last prize was always a perfect orange (usually a naval orange). During the childhood years we lived in snowy Colorado, that orange was a particular treat.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, we got a scratch-and-sniff children's book entitled The Sweet Smell of Christmas about a little bear that went through his house smelling all the smells of Christmas. He, too, got an orange in the toe of his stocking and my favorite page of the book was that one where I could scratch and sniff the pungent aroma of orange.

Now that I have a home of my own, I grow a number of varieties of citrus in my garden. When I harvest the fruit, the bright smell of orange oil on my fingertips brings back memories of when everything seemed magical on Christmas morning. To me, that is the smell of Christmas.

What is the smell, taste, color, or sound of Christmas to you?
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  1. Cindy, what a lovely posting about Christmas. And I like your idea of not putting everything out, but going 'shopping' in the attic for the feeling and theme you want that year. I have been in homes where every room is decorated to the hilt. And it's lovely. But I, too, cannot imagine the amount of work, putting up and then taking down.

    Yes, I like the old Christmas movies... White Christmas being right up there as a favourite. And like you, I was mesmerized by the reds when it came out in colour!

    Lovely walk through...... Happy thoughts and wishes winging your way at this wondrous time.

  2. Cindy, that is a wonderful post. So much of Christmas memories are stored in our senses.

    I too, remember getting a orange in my stocking. A mandarin usually, but treasured. We were allergic to them, so they were rationed out carefully.

    My Mom, who grew up in Holland, said that during the war, the entire family would share a orange at Christmas time. There were 10 kids, and everyone got a small piece. How far we have all come, now we can have as many oranges as we wish.....


  3. I love these sorts of nostalgic, happy-wistful posts, Cindy. Thank you for sharing with us! Happy Christmas, if I don't get back here before next week! xx jodi

  4. I am just loving Christmas this year! Hopefully I can take it home with me when I go, so we can all enjoy it. Here's what I think of:
    sound: Bells a-ringing, Children singing
    smell: pine, cinnamon, pumpkin, spices...yum!
    taste: fat frosted sugar cookies and the chocolates you only dare eat once a year (I love fudge too Cindy!)
    sight: twinkly Christmas simple but so sweet and to brighten the darkest day
    touch: the weight and coziness of fat socks on cold toes and homemade blankies pulled up to your chin!

  5. This is such a sweet post! I always love the smell of cinnamon and cookies baking at Christmas. My mom always made tons and tons of cookies. She'd start baking in November and freeze them. Then she'd make huge platters of cookies to give away to friends and family. It was always such a wonderful memory growing up.

  6. Lovely. I always got a mandarin orange in the toe of my Christmas stocking as well. I was never very impressed, because there was always a big box of them readily available the entire month of December. That said, I think I would have been disappointed if it hadn't been there.

    For me, the smell of Christmas is the scent of a fresh, live pine tree. Hands down.

  7. Cindy another blogging year, and we are still here, lol.

    Wishing you and yours happy holidays, happy new year, lots of love, happiness, joy, and good health.

    Again thanks so much for your kind comments and over all blogging support. Take care, Anna :)

  8. Merry Christmas Cindy. I hope you have a lovely time full of special memories.


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