In Praise of the Smell of Christmas Trees

One of my favorite, recent Christmas trees, a Fraser Fir. Not often sold in California, this variety is plentiful in Texas, though it is grown only in the southern Appalachians.

There’s nothing quite like a great smell. A smell has power like no other sensory experience, especially when it comes to memory. It’s well known that a certain smell can activate our memories like nothing else.

That’s one of the main reasons I love fresh, genuine Christmas trees. These days, artificial Christmas trees are hardly “fake.” They can look as real as a live tree. Over the course of several years, artificial trees save a bunch money, not to mention decorating time. Plus, they’re kind to people with allergies.

But artificial trees just don’t smell like Christmas trees. And that smell, for me, is one of the most delicious of all smells. Now, to be sure, I simply like the smell of a fir tree. But, part of what I love about that smell is the memories it stirs up in my mind.

When I smell a Christmas tree, I am transported to a Christmas tree lot in Inglewood, California, where I lived until I was six years old. From preschool perspective, that Christmas tree lot was a vast forest filled with pungent treasures. As my mom and dad tried to find the perfect tree, I hid among the branches of the forest, taking in its heavenly smells.

Then, I remember how our living smelled when my dad carried in the tree. It seemed to fill our home with sylvan delight. On the first night with a Christmas tree, I could even smell it in my room.

Then, my mind goes back to happy times when my children were small, when I surprised them with a Christmas tree, which they loved to help decorate.

I won’t keep on boring you with all of my Christmas memories. I think you get the point.


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