The Smell of a Fresh Pine Tree
(Saint Louis, MO)
Pine Tree. The smell of our pine tree meant the holidays were coming. The Christmas tree usually took up half of our living room and we spent hours arranging our ornaments. My mom had a system. FIRST the lights, THEN the garland, THEN the ornaments....heavy ones on the bottom, fragile ones on the top. Dad set up the tree and disappeared after that until all was done. Some Christmases we strung popcorn and cranberries. I remember poking myself numerous times with the needle, hence I have never used one much since. After we decorated it, I remember doing my homework stretched out on the floor as close to the tree as I could get without being under it. We all had special ornaments, and there were these bubbly bubble lights that you could get lost staring at, and the squishy, farm animals made out of brightly colored felt.
Music. Music was always on, in every room, from my mom and dad playing Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, The Rolling Stones, and Emmy Lou Harris on the guitar, to my brother listening to old school rap in his bedroom, my sister singing to herself with a pretend microphone while looking in mirror, to John Denver singing with the muppets on the old family record player that sat on our huge bookshelf in our family room. I can remember how busy everything felt. Everyone had a lot of energy.
Television. Other times during the holidays we would all gather around the little tv, the one with the knob you had to actually get up from your seat to turn, and watch a family holiday movie. I can still smell the tan couch with brown stripes that we jumped on, stole pillows from each other and made forts with and just lay on to watch tv or to get lost looking at the bubble lights bubble and bubble on the tree-there were three of them. One for my brother, one for me, and one for my sister.
Baked Goods. The kitchen was always filled with fresh baked goods...and rolls. Whenever I smell fresh bread I think of these days. Homemade rolls and Joe Frogger gingerbread cookies. My mom and grandma would also make fudge and a variety of other kinds of cookies, and they still do today, but I only cared about and STILL only care about the rolls and the Joe Froggers.
Family. I remember the Christmas after my Grandma's mom passed away, (my Mimi) a sweet smoker from Mississippi who had shiny red nails and shoes and lipstick to match. My grandma announced, with tears in her eyes, that she tried to keep at bay behind her sparkly rings and bracelets, that she would no longer make the rolls. As she covered the rolls with a checkered dishtowel, that it was to be my mom's job now, and ours someday soon and that she just couldn't do it any more. It was too hard to imagine making them anymore. This was the day I realized we don't live forever and eventually all we have of the people we love are our memories.