When my sisters and I were young, we loved a book called The Sweet Smell of Christmas. It told the story of a little bear who used his nose to experience the simple pleasures of the holidays.
The book was a scratch-and-sniff ~ a real novelty at the time. We nearly scratched holes in the pages to release the fragrance of Little Bear’s Christmas, including an orange, hot cocoa, a pine branch and other comforting holiday scents.
On my daughter’s first Christmas, my sister gave her a new copy of our beloved book. Over the years, I read it to her and her little brother hundreds of times, watching their tiny fingers scratch the pictures and hold the book to their button noses. Closing their eyes, they’d take a deep breath and say dreamily, “Mmm! It smells just like Christmas!”
As a mother, I admired the wisdom of Little Bear’s parents. Sensing their cub’s excitement, they went about holiday preparations in a calm, rhythmic manner keeping Little Bear focused on the sweet simplicity of Christmas.
With all of the anticipation and build-up, Christmas day can bring a sense of overwhelm, disappointment and anxiety in children and adults. Despite good intentions, we often turn a silent holy night into a month-long frenzy that can end in a holly jolly melt-down.
To keep the big day feeling merry, experts recommend we occasionally stop to take a few deep breaths and become fully aware of our natural senses.
What do you see…a twinkling star, a nativity scene, a candle’s glow?
What do you hear…cheerful music, a child’s laughter, a prayer?
What do you taste…a pinch of salt, a dash of cinnamon, a spoonful of sugar?
What do you feel…a sincere hug, a warm fire, a kiss under the mistletoe?
What do you smell…pine from the tree, paperwhite narcissus blossoms, a juicy orange?
Like childhood itself, the holiday season comes and goes in a blink of an eye. This week, let’s get real about our expectations, stay mindful, and cherish the little things. Let’s use the gift of our senses to fully embrace the simple joys of the holidays, like the sweet smell of Christmas.§