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A scent-a-mental season

December 12, 2014
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

The holiday season is filled with a heartwarming collection of traditional sights and sounds. From bright leaves and pumpkins and the bounty of Thanksgiving to the December appearance of holly wreaths and the sound of jingle bells, it's an endless treat for eye and ear.

But the sensory feast doesn't end there. The season brings with it a rich perfume unlike that of any other part of the year.

In late November, when Tim and I joined daughter Becky and family for Thanksgiving, we found the house filled with the mingling fragrance of roasting turkey, spicy stuffing and mouth-watering pumpkin pie. Every time I took a deep breath, I felt I'd have to count calories.

As wonderful as the scents of Thanksgiving, once it's behind us, we move on to some of the sweetest smells of the season.

When I was little, I'd hang out in the kitchen just to breathe in the heady aromas filling the warm air.

I always wanted to be on hand when Mom was finished with her gingerbread dough. As the youngest in our family of four kids, my job was to lick the big yellow mixing bowl. It was one of the few chores I accepted with enthusiasm.

Then there was the Christmas treat of helping Mom with mixing, cutting and baking dozens of sugar cookies for our family and to share with neighbors. These, too, had their own fragrance as they baked in the seldom-cool oven.

Though the kitchen was the source of so many wonderful smells associated with the holiday season, the one odor that always meant Christmas for meboth as a kid and an adult.continues to be the smell of a fresh-cut Christmas tree.

During our years in Findley Lake, we'd bundle up our three youngsters and make our pilgrimage to Ken Neckers' tree farm. There, we'd troop around through the snow, evaluating this specimen and that one, until we came across the evergreen agreed upon as the perfect Schenk Christmas Tree.

The special fir was cut, hauled home and erected in the corner of the living room. Then Christmas carols on the radio, a fire in the fireplace and house filled with the mingling perfumes of fresh-cut pine and warming cocoa accompanied the tradition of decorating.

It's been many years since those memory-filled family times.

Again this year, our tree is a small imitation of the real thing. Although it will have the traditional look and be decorated with memories of the past, it will be missing that unforgettable pine perfume.

But last week, just after Thanksgiving, we stopped at the local Home Depot. As I wandered through the garden center, I saw them. Like seasonal sentinels standing at attention, a group of cut pines had been trucked in from some far-away northern farm.

I pushed my shopping cart close and took a long-slow breath. Though a bit weak, the scent was still there, taking me back to holidays past. It was a lovely, if fleeting time of reminiscing.

Sadly, when Christmas finally arrives, those trees, so long away from their homeland, will be scentless sticks with rapidly dropping needles.

But at least they gave me a moment of that special memory-invoking aroma of a real Christmas tree. For me it's the single most satisfying scent of the season.



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