The holidays are a time when we often reflect on the past year with hopes of going forward with good health and happiness. We anxiously await to participate in traditions that have been the glue to keep families together. It was my mother who instilled tradition in my family by organizing all the tasks needed before and after the festive dinner when she'd take out our china she and my father received on their wedding day.
Growing up on a small farm in rural America was scent memory filled during the Christmas season: It started with a trip to the woods with my father to help select the right Christmas tree to bring back to our little farm house. The scent of pine or fir would fill the air as he sawed a straight edge at the tree's stem for balance in the stand before my siblings and I adorned it with ornaments that included peppermint sticks and strings of popcorn (both slowly disappeared over the days). Christmas Eve always meant a visit to my grandmother's house for fruitcake and cups of her spiked eggnog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Before bed, my mother would leave ginger man cookies "for Santa" while we all lay in bed thinking about what was in those gifts until we finally went to sleep. When morning arrived, we scrambled for the tree always ripping open the biggest box first before the reality of our daily farm chores separated us from our joy of gifts. The barn--that dirty, smelly place of goats, chickens and pigs! Breakfast was a feast in itself as my father believed in big ones: Crisp smell of bacon, eggs or pancakes with maple syrup, toast and the smell of my mother's coffee.
As I've entered this holiday season, I reflect on my childhood memories and of my mother who helped form them. It's those simple pleasures in life that remain the most treasured. My message to you is to encourage you to spend time with loved ones who have instilled family traditions in our lives, and to try and recall every little aroma that connects to them during those precious times.