Roxana of Illuminated Perfumes (click for her link to all of us) kindly asked me, a most negligent blogger, to be a part of The Circle, to blog about Christmas scents, and I am most happy to oblige!
Living in virtually seasonless Los Angeles, my New York childhood is what laid the foundation for my Christmas senses for ever after. I identified most thoroughly with Tom's scent memories of chestnuts roasting on the streets of NY, taking the Fifth Avenue bus with my head buried in the backs of ladies fur coats, and the actual smell of snow and of the icy cold air, which I especially miss the week before Christmas. I'm still a sucker for anything smelling of fir, all year 'round, a conflation of summers in Maine and the smell of our tree (yes I'm Jewish!) and the Junipers just outside our door.
In the 70's my Mom was in a "Conciousness Raising Group" -- yes that's what it was called -- with a great woman whose husband was a minister in a neighboring town. She invited us (secular NY Jews) to his Xmas Eve service, a rousing political and cultural commentary with audience participation, if I remember correctly, and I was hooked on Xmas Eve Services for many years. I think he only lasted a year more at that post, but I dragged my parents to a service every year at a different place, the most memorable being the Old Dutch Church founded in 1685 in the town next to ours, with a cemetary attached made famous by Washington Irvington's tale about Sleepy Hollow Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. There was no heat but a stove, and the flickering candlelight and smoky smell in the cold stone church stays with me still.
Here in Los Angeles, we don't have any environmental Christmas smells, but the combination of my BF's Incensey Comme des Garcons Avignon perfume (a vestige of his Catholic childhood in France (yes, he's Jewish too!) and Roxana's wonderful Sierra Solid Gold are hitting all of the right "notes" for me this season. They can seem anachronistic in our daytime temperatures of 70 - 80 degrees during the day, but when the sun sets early, like I remember from childhood, the 30 degree drop makes the night air feel almost right, along with the views of snow capped peaks visible from certain street corners, which I can smell in my imagination. Some "authority" wrote a book about smell saying that we never dream of smells, and I am here to tell you that they are dead wrong, I frequently have scented dreams, and these are the ones I wish for in December and January!