I watch my wife in the grocery store. She picks up a tangerine, presses it to her nose and inhales, her eyes closed. “Christmas,” she says, a childhood expression lighting her face. “We only ever bought them at Christmastime,” she tells me for the umpteenth time. Back in the early ’50’s in the farming country of southern Pennsylvania, produce was often limited. A bowl of walnuts was also a treat. For me, growing up in south-central Virginia, our treats were licorice sticks, candy canes and homemade pound cakes–and country ham. My mother could make the best, soaking them for days to get out the excess salt. Christmas carols were played on the radio the week before Christmas, not the week after Halloween. And the best gift of all was the coming together of extended family for laughter and story telling late into the night–with a little moonshine to loosen the tongues.
Times and traditions change. We all have our own little memories. Smells. tastes and sounds that bring back their sweetness and comfort. But the true reason of the season never changes. I wish you all a family-filled Christmas wrapped in hope and love and peace.