A Christmas Atmosphere

The aromas of Christmas. If you close your eyes, you can smell them. Crisp, new-fallen snow. Clean and cold in your nose, filling your head with freshness. Cinnamon and cloves, boiling on the stove-top, the taste of apple or pumpkin pie on your tongue. Sugar cookies baking in the oven, lovely and golden on the cookie sheet.

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The sights of Christmas. Sparkly lights upon the tree. Each ornament a memory of Christmas’ past. Candles flickering upon a table or in a window, a halo of melted ice upon the pane. Snow piled high against a tree, branches lifting white fluff to the sky. A snow man here and there, stick arms pointing crazily. Colored lights adorning houses, icicles ‘dripping’ from the eaves. Snowflakes dancing on the wind, each one unique.

The sounds of Christmas. Carols being sung around the piano, groups trudging through the cold to the next door. Favorite songs come to mind, floating on the air. Children shrieking with joy, crumpled paper upon the floor. Laughter and reminiscing of long ago, my grandfather’s whistle wafting through my memories.

These are from my Christmas album. Each of us has our own. Christmas at my house while growing up was a really, big deal. We lived in large homes and had several trees. One year, the Breakfast Room tree had only edible items on it. We strung popcorn and cranberries, and gum drops as well. We made sugar cookies and decorated them, a hole at the top for string. My youngest brother loved that tree and really enjoyed it…literally. I don’t think there was a decoration left on it by the time Christmas arrived!

My memories come from places that are cold in December. Colorado, Vermont, New York and Minnesota. But for a couple Christmases we lived in Arizona. My mother kept the air-conditioning on so it would seem ‘cold’ in the house. We painted ‘snow’ on the window panes. With a few, frosty mornings, it even seemed more wintery. My mother was great at creating the ambience of a season.

Have I accomplished that for my own children? I’m afraid I probably haven’t. Putting up one tree each year is more of a task than what I want to do. With only one child still at home, the desire to decorate is even less than it used to be. It just seems like a lot of work to drag out all the decorations, put them up for a month and then put them all away. I would rather enjoy the ‘ambience’ at someone else’s house.

Thankfully, our second to youngest and her husband came over yesterday and put up our tree. We went through the ornaments, reflected on the special ones…the years receded. Our daughter took home the ones that were hers, to display on the beautiful tree she and her husband decorated for their first Christmas.

And life goes on. Christmas is the celebration of our Savior’s birth. All the tradition’s that come in from all over the world are what make the memories that each of us have. It is what makes our Christmases special. Each December, we want to remember those aromas, sights and sounds. We want to pull-out those memories, dust them off and relive them, share them with others and make new ones. THAT is why we drag out the tree and boxes of ornaments. We bake far too many goodies for one family to eat, and burn candles, listening to Christmas music. We want the ‘ambience’ of Christmas.

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