Take a Deep Breath

On this Christmas Eve I am reminded how important scents are to our lives. This morning, as I have done for many years, I unscrewed the top of a very small bottle of something called “The Smell of Christmas”made by a company named “Aromatique Inc”. And there it was: instant Christmas. I don’t say this lightly or flippantly. At least 13 years ago (a year before my late wife Ernestine died of terminal cancer) she had purchased a bottle of this essential oil that we used to scent the Pomander Balls that she made by studding oranges with cloves. That wonderful smell permeated the house we lived in on Blackstone Blvd. in Providence RI and it instantly tied all of the decorations and festivities together to create a wonderfully warm holiday environment that I am afraid I somewhat took it for granted. You know…Christmas comes back every year. Year after year. And as much as we love the traditions…it can get a little like that old Bill Murray moved “Groundhog Day”. It can get trite and old and I think it is our responsibility to prevent that. But that is easier said than done, Some years I am just not ready for it all…particularly since E and so many other family members and close friends have died. I actually have two unique scents that can send me back in time to happiness and joy: the Christmas scent that I use every year (or when I really want to remember the joy E and I shared together) and a squat little bottle labeled “Oriental Blend Pot-Pourri Oil” from a long ago vanished shop in Jermyn Street in London called James Bodenham & Company. That bottle has to be at least 25 years old. The label is hard to read and the bottle is just about empty…that is except for that wonderful scent that flows out of it when I bring it to my nose. One sniff brings back memories of wonderful trips to London and the day we wandered into the shop, bought the little bottle of scent and four wooden fruits that we used the oil on to scent our homes in the west Village in NYC, Seward, New York, Hackettstown, New Jersey and finally on Blackstone Blvd. in Providence. All of those houses have vanished as did my sweet Ernestine. The furniture that filled them has been disbursed and I live alone (of course with my beagles “Plaid” and “Stripe”) now in a very small and simple apartment near Charleston SC. I have an active, happy and busy life but at this time of year (and if I am going to be really honest at many other times) I remember and cherish the joys, pains, laughter and tears and the love I have given and had returned for my 70 plus years. And all of that come flooding back to me with a simple sniff of one of these little jars and I am overcome by the blessings I have received. (And yes, her pomander balls are still here and I can see her now as she was on that day that she made them). Merry Christmas…take a deep breath!

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