John’s Blog- The Sights, Sounds and Smells of Christmas
This morning in our weekly staff meeting, as a part of the devotional, we were asked what sounds we associated with Christmas. As I reflected on that question it sent me on a bit longer journey. What are the sights, sounds and smells that we associate with Christmas? As I child, I recall walking into my Grandmother Roper’s house at Christmas time. There would be a wreath on the front door and greenery throughout the house, so naturally it smelled like cedar. Her house had a very long hall with three bedrooms, a bathroom and a screened-in porch on the left side and a den, dining room, pantry, kitchen, back bedroom and formal living room on the right. It seemed like a long walk just to go to the back of the house. When I spent the night it felt like a journey just to go to the bathroom. But at Christmas the whole house was decorated and smelled of wonderful food and cookies. The rest of the year it mostly smelled like Bengay and mothballs. Perhaps it made such an impression on me because of the contrast.
While it was primarily the sights I remember at Grandmother Roper’s, it was the smells that I recall from my Grandmother McNeil’s. When we entered her front door at Christmas time, we were greeted with the wonderful smells of spiced tea and fresh homemade mints. It was at my Grandmother McNeil’s that we also were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. This was a practice that was firmly forbidden at our house and at my Grandmother Roper’s. This alone was enough to make us look forward to our trip to “Mamma Neil’s,” as we called her.
My house today is much smaller than my grandmothers’ homes, though it too is filled with wonderful sights, sounds and smells. But when I think of Christmas, I immediately think of my grandmothers’ houses. Perhaps it has to do with the contrast. You see, I think that is what Christmas is really all about. We are completely familiar with the world the way it is and suddenly God, in the person of the Christ Child, gives us a glimpse of the world the way it will be.