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The tastes and smells of Christmas…remind you of what?

The smell of Christmas

The smell of Christmas

It’s a very tasty and smelly time of year. And generally that makes me very happy. Let me qualify that…

Our moods are affected most by what we take in through our senses – what we see, hear, smell, taste, and how we experience touch, can affect quite dramatically our mood. Think of simple things like a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, a compliment, a well-timed hug. And in contrast, a wet, gray day; earache; a harsh word; a disgusting scent lingering unwantedly in our noses.

Of all our senses, our sense of smell is most powerful in reconnecting us with memories, emotions and past experiences. That is because there is a direct route from our smell receptors to the limbic system in our brain where we process our emotional memories (lovely article about this link here.)

I only have to smell mixed spice to immediately be transported back Dr Who style to my childhood and I am kneeling in front of my grandmother’s large wooden dresser that contained her spices and baking ingredients, sticking my head in to get a good whiff. Her presence is almost tangible and it reminds me of her, and how much I miss her and my grandfather.

Fresh cut grass boosts my mood as I think of summer, parks and picnics. The smell of hot wet pavements after rain immediately relaxes me as I am back in a hot holiday destination.

And the smell of Christmas?

Tangerines are memories of opening stockings on Christmas morning as a child, and now doing the same with my children. Roast pork is many happy Danish Christmas Eve celebrations, remembering my other, Scandinavian grandmother. Cloves make me laugh and think of the orange pomander thing that my cousin painstakingly made as a gift, following the Blue Peter instructions (happily, no dental associations for me with cloves!).

What smells have the strongest associations for you, and why?

What smells and scents are you aware of this week, as we head towards Christmas?

When we stop and notice, what memories, emotions, associations come with those smells?

And ultimately, rather than just noticing, how can we respond – with thankfulness, appreciation, generosity, kindness – to our nearest and dearest, to those with little or nothing, to those for whom Christmas food smells simply reinforce the gap between those that have and those that have not?

Smell and taste – intimately connected, enhancing each other. Lots to savour, and in a house of foodies, much deliciousness to anticipate.

In contrast, we have all experienced the bitter taste of an unpleasant, harsh conversation…the sourness of negativity…the lingering ‘off’ aftertaste of an unkind word, be it from our own mouths or that of another.

So this week, in this season of waiting and preparation – how can we bring a taste of goodness to others?  How can we ensure our words are sweet tasting, enhance the lives of those around us, bring joy and encouragement?

Smell and taste your way through this week, taking time to stop and notice, to remember and celebrate, and to spread goodness.


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