Thursday, December 27, 2007

Smells Like Christmas

When I was a very little girl, before my parent's divorce - or, at least before my mother's remarriage - we spent Christmas Eve at my mother's parent's home. I would sleep in a big bed with my mother's youngest sister, who was only 3 years older than I. We would lie awake and wonder if Santa Claus would really come, and, if so, how he would get into the house, since it was without a chimney.

My grandfather was an engineer - an engineer who designed engines for a large tractor company that I won't name here. He had convinced my youngest aunt and I that the mechanism that allowed Santa's sleigh to run was HIGHLY SIMILAR to the mechanisms that ran his beloved tractors. Because he appeared to be able to make ANYTHING run properly - from dishwashers to the ancient Model-T he kept in the garage - we believed that he must know of what he spoke. My grandfather had us convinced that Santa Claus would stop at his house for an engine tune-up, sometime in the middle of the night, and that Santa would drop off our gifts at that time. No chimney, no problem. Have a brilliant grandpa who can fix Santa's sleigh, THAT was the answer!

I'm not sure how I thought OTHER CHILDREN, children whose grandfathers weren't necessary to Santa's operation, got THEIR gifts, if THEY didn't have a chimney. Evidently such a question never occurred to me. (As it also did not occur to me that a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer should not actually NEED an engine tune-up from a tractor engineer...)

My grandparents were raised on rice farms in north central Arkansas, and they brought their Christmas traditions with them to Michigan. When my aunt and I would run downstairs on Christmas morning, we would find our stockings stuffed with whole pecans and oranges and tangerines. (And we always ate rice with butter and cinnamon for breakfast, and it wasn't Christmas with a pecan pie.)

As I grew older, I learned that Santa Claus did not bring oranges, tangerines or pecans to my friends, and yet it didn't occur to me to wonder why not. I still loved to crack the pecans open - there was something truly satisfying about cracking open the hard shell and digging out the meat of the pecan - something I only did at Christmastime.

Husband purchased a bag of oranges late last week, because Lana asked for them. We've never been big eaters of oranges around our house, they are a pain to peel and eat, and both Husband and I, usually, if we're going to make the effort to eat citrus, prefer grapefruit. But, Lana wanted oranges, so oranges were purchased.

On Christmas Eve morning, I sat at our kitchen table, peeling an orange with a Pampered Chef citrus peeler (which, I am telling you, for .75 is one of the best products I have purchased from any kitchen supply company.) Anyway, I was looking at the Christmas tree in our family room, and peeling the orange, and I realized that very little smells more like Christmas to me than the scent of a freshly peeled orange. I know that most people think of pine or cinnamon when they think about Christmas smells - but, to me, it smells like oranges, and brings me back to those magic Christmas mornings of my childhood. It could have only smelled MORE like Christmas if I had had some pecans to crack open at the same time.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, filled with the smells that make you feel most at home!


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Blogger Nicole - Raising Animals said...

We received whole Walnuts and Oranges in our stockings and now I always associate the smell of fresh chopped walnuts with Christmas. It sounds like your holidays growing up were alot of fun!

Thursday, December 27, 2007 6:21:00 PM  
OpenID said...

Do you leave food for your kids in their stockings? I never have and my parents never did and I've always been a little envious about other people who have that simple but magical experience. I do have the nut-cracking memories though! I loved this post!

Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger jenn said...

Another orange family here :) Thanks for sharing, it's a great post!

(I too associate orange with Christmas and when we get a tree I like to get a Concolor as it smells more citrus-y tahn pine-y to me)

Friday, December 28, 2007 7:31:00 AM  
Blogger maxhelcal said...

I loved your Christmas story! I wish I had memories like that. Guess we'll be starting our own traditions here and hoping our children all grow up to have wonderful magical memories like you have.

Friday, December 28, 2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger LaLa said...

Great post! We got apples, oranges and nuts in our stockings too. I guess Annslee should too..hmmmm

We had a real fireplace growing up so no problem but now we have the "fake" kind so I found a really cute Santa key at Hallmark and we hang that outside our door : )

Hope your holiday was wonderful

Saturday, December 29, 2007 8:04:00 PM  
Blogger S. said...

We do oranges too! Of course our kids will never understand why it was so special--for my dad in Ireland and dh's family in Germany having a fresh orange was a real treat!

Monday, December 31, 2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger StorkWatcher said...

'round here, we eat Clemetines at Christmastime. They're in boxes at the grocery stores. They're small oranges, seedless, VERY easy to peel (my 2 YO does his own!) and are SWEET.

Try to find some! I bet Lana will love 'em.

Friday, January 04, 2008 4:54:00 PM  

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