Smells Like Hanukkah!

A few nights ago it was Halloween. Gerry and I settled in for the evening to watch the baseball game knowing there would be many distractions. We had a fire in the fireplace and I lit my new pumpkin scented Yankee candle. (Yankee candles are one of the reasons I appreciate the change of seasons.)

Chelsea went crazy every time the doorbell rang; I would hold her 2.7 pounds feisty frame in my arms while Gerry doled out the chocolate. Maya on the other hand, a substantial 7 pounder,  sat where whe was told to and watched the action from her spot at the edge of the carpet.

At one point when Gerry opened the door to a group of young boys one of them must have caught the scent of the pumpkin candle because he exclaimed “Oh! It smells like Hanukkah!”

I’m not Jewish and I have no idea what the smells of Hannukkah might be but I was struck by his remark and reminded of what a powerful took the sense of smell is in evoking memories.

I have a bottle of body lotion tucked away and every so often I pull it out and take a whiff and I am transported immediately to the Dominican Republic where we enjoyed a vacation a few years ago. I slathered that lotion on every day while we were there.

The scent of Jergens hand lotion reminds me of Mom and tiny squirt of lotion she would put on my hand when I was a child and we were getting ready to go out into the cold Saskatchewan winter.

A strong coffee smell makes me think of Mrs. Crooks, a neighbor who lived behind us when I was a child. Mom used to take me with her when she went to visit and Mrs. Crooks always had one of those Pyrex coffee pots sitting on her stove and the scent of perculating coffee filled her kitchen.

As we get older we amass an array of memories that are grounded in smell. What smells evoke strong memory with you?


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things.
  1. When I was a little girl (3-4 years old), my parents were stationed at the air base in Puerto Rico. I played outside a lot in those days. As a young woman, I returned to the island and was walking under a beautiful tree, I don't know what it was, but I picked up a blossom that had fallen from the tree and smelled it. I was instantly transported in time to twenty years before. It was such a strong memory that I can still recall the smell of the yellow blossom.

  2. Linda, when I worked in a nursing home, Aroma therapy worked well with the patients! Smells are great memory come-backers. 🙂

  3. DJan, do you know what kind of blossom it was?
    Karen, I love the idea of aromatherapy!

  4. Newly-mowed St. Augustine grass. I was probably three years old, sitting in my swing, watching my aunt's husband mowing our back yard. My father was in the chicken yard that formed the other half of the property, catching birds for a fried chicken lunch.

    1. Isn’t the smell of freshly cut grass the BEST!

  5. Celery, onion and cornbread — a Thanksgiving smell, signals to me the month in which both of my parents died, and also a happier time in my childhood before Mother developed dementia, when she would arise at 4 a.m. to begin Thanksgiving dinner preparations. I loved hanging out with her in the warm kitchen, so redolent with future memories.

    1. What a wonderful memory, Elizabeth. I have similar memories of being with my mom in the kitchen that are comforting.

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