how do you remember the holidays?
I remember with scented seasons greetings – aromatherapy, chai, and fragrant foods
My memories are full of smells, sounds and flavors. I don’t remember the visuals as much, but maybe that’s because I often spent the holidays in the kitchen or near the Christmas trees. Snow has its own scent too. When mixed with pine and other evergreens, it always reminds me of the holidays.
These days, I don’t decorate much for the holidays. Instead, I fill my apartment with the scents of autumn and Thanksgiving in November and winter, peppermint, ginger spice, and chai around Christmas and Hanukkah. More than the presents, the decorations, and the noise, my favorite part of the holidays was the amazing smells that came out of the kitchen. Second favorite was when my dad and mom took time off from work to play with my younger brother and me during winter break.
Scented Holiday Traditions
I grew up in a predominantly jewish community so had every christian and jewish holiday off during the school year. One of my uncles was Jewish and used to celebrate all the Jewish and Christian holidays with us when he was alive. It’s because of him and my god father that I learned to love matzo ball soup (YUM) and the sensory experience of burning candles.
More than that, some of my best memories are cooking Christmas Eve dinner with my aunt and uncle or grandparents in the kitchen. We’d make appetizers and dessert too. Then open gifts.
The noise and color overwhelmed me then, much as it does now, so I often could be found in a quiet place looking at the decorations and sipping hot cocoa remembering the scented seasons greetings of snow and pine or spruce with cinnamon and mint.
Remembering the holiday scents
Before this year, I moved around so much that decorating was not something I could do. Instead, I focused on recreating the memories with smells, holiday movies & music, and food. Aromatherapy blends help me re-create holiday scents of orange with cloves and ginger. Peppermint with cardamom and pine too.
That plus cooking always helped ease the stress of gift-buying and dealing with the extra crowds of people on public transit as they shopped for gifts or made their way to parties and events. I would put in my ear buds, turn on my favorite music and drift off into a fantasy book as the train took me home.
How do you relax and nourish yourself to stay energized during the holidays?
Gale loves smelling rose leaves & catnip or getting human food treats. She reminds me to play and take breaks in many ways. I love the smell of hot chocolate and peppermint tea. Or chai if I feel like making that instead. This year we decorated with some stockings (gifts from family) and holiday cards on the wall.
I distract myself in different ways and use inhalers to help me concentrate or sleep when the distractions don’t work. Cooking always makes me smile. And this year, I hope to bake too. But for those of you who are not fond of kitchen activities, what can you do?
- Knit or crochet
- Sing caroles on Zoom
- Exercise and decorate
But no matter what you do, Gale and I hope you make time to take care of yourself too.
Love and Rainbows,
TJ & Gale