Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas

New York seems to come to life at Christmas, and one of my favorite things this time of year is the Christmas tree scent which emanates from the thousands real live pine trees and wreaths that line the city sidewalks beginning shortly after Thanksgiving, and for a few short weeks, the city comes alive with the smell of Christmas. It's funny how smells can call up a childhood memory locked away in our hearts, and the scent of a real Christmas tree evokes many fond memories of days gone past. 

One memory that still seems as vivid as if it were yesterday involves dashing down the stairs on Christmas morning, looking across the room, and seeing the Christmas tree lit in all its glory.  Mom and Dad had always wanted me to believe that Santa not only left gifts, but also trimmed the tree.  Hence, when I went to bed on Christmas Eve a bare tree stood in the corner, but in the morning it had come to life.

This was one old tradition I didn't try to keep. Santa Claus brought presents, yes, but I wanted my boys to experience the joy of decorating the tree.  There is something special about that family time, it is quality time, so when they were young, we made a full day out of it. Together we made paper chains of red and green, strung popcorn, ate homemade cookies, drank hot chocolate, later sung Christmas carols.  Later, we would snuggle close together on the sofa and watched  "A Christmas Story", still a holiday tradition in my home. "A Christmas Story", for me, brings me back to a time when Christmas didn't come until December, and all was right with the world.  In closing, I'd like to share the following little story that has become another holiday tradition for me.

The pine was mortal, once, like other trees 
That lift their boughs in the air, 
Wearing in summer its green fripperies. 
In winter going bare 
And desolate of birds.
But that was in an old, forgotten age 
Before the words 
Of Wise Men stung King Herod to such rage 
That his loud armies went 
About the land to slay the Innocent. 
Then there was consternation and no joy 
In Israel. Joseph and Mary, Flying 
Into another country with the Boy 
Came when the day was dying, 
Houseless to the edge of a green wood 
Where valorously stood 
A needled pine that every summer gave 
Small birds a nest. 
And half its trunk was hollow as a cave.
Said Joseph, "This is refuge. Let us rest." 
The pine tree, full of pity, dropped its vast 
Protective branches down 
To cover them until the troops rode past, 
Their weapons jingling, toward a different town. 
All night it hid them. When the morning broke, 
The Child awoke 
And blessed the pine, His steadfast lodging place. 
"Let you and your brave race, 
Who made yourself My rampart and My screen 
Keep summer always and be ever green. 
For you the punctual seasons shall not vary, 
But let there throng 
A thousand birds to you for sanctuary 
All winter long." 
The story tells us, too, 
That if you cut a pine cone part way through, 
You find it bears within it like a brand 
The imprint of His hand.



  1. Oh, I love the smell of Christmas. You know, one of my favorite scenes from "When Harry Met Sally" is where Sally is buying her tree from a street vendor and dragging it home. Enjoy the season!

  2. I bet your boys have many fond memories of decorating the tree with you. It sounds wonderful!

  3. I share your love of evergreen trees but I cannot have one where I live. I do however have 3 smaller trees I have already decorated for the holidays.

    A Christmas Story was my husbands favourite holiday movie. Did I tell you Mary, I was shopping for presents for the family and I came upon this 3ft. Father Christmas that looks just like my late husband ? Of course I had to buy him so this year Jim will be having Christmas dinner with us once again. He is standing on top of the fireplace surrounded by two artificial trees decked out with winter birds, golden butterflies and copper ornaments.

    I love this season too Mary.

    Merry Christmas to you.
    hugs and blessings Sharon

  4. That is a great story about your parents trimming the tree after you had gone to bed. I have carried on a tradition of getting up before all in the house and turning on the lights as my son got up early and had the light to guide him to the presents! One day we vow to come and spend the holidays in New York!

  5. Unfortunately, in the apartment complex we're not allowed to have live trees which really upsets me. But I bought a pine candle which naturally isn't the same thing but if I close my eyes, I'm brought back to the memories of earlier Xmas trees. I love your traditions, Mary.

  6. Good morning dear Mary.....Finally can stop by to say hi.....I love it that you have posted about your Christmas memories....and the fact that you share with us the different aspects of living in New York. I can only imagine walking down the sidewalk with the smell of evergreens wafting through the air.....I've never been back east at Christmas....perhaps one day I will be able to see it.

    Bless you sweet friend,


  7. Thank you for the photos! I can almost smell the pine scent!

    Same here, we always did the getting tree and decorating it, as a family. I don't care for the ... keep the tree a surprise way, myself. (Even if Tasha Tudor always did it that way...) -grin-

    From 'The Land Which Snow Forgot'