When a Smell Is a Memory


It’s amazing what can bring back a memory, not one that disappeared but just one that was so long ago that you rarely see the memory, especially in my situation, after the family estrangements. Holidays now are difficult for me, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I make the most I can of them but something will always be missing.

I was in a store today, looking at the freshly-displayed Christmas decoration section. Every year, I buy a few new tree ornaments and I found some really beautiful ones today. I was going up and down each isle, smiling at the fun things caught my eye and then I turned down garland isle – this particular isle had all the old-fashioned tinsel garland and wreaths, bright red and green. I never realized it before but tinsel has a smell, a particular smell and as it drifted up my nose, my senses came alive and I was transported back to the Christmas’ of my childhood.

I have experienced sights and sounds that bring back a memory but rarely a smell, a scent.  But this tinsel sent – it was like I was on the Christmas train, traveling back to being a child, to the happy moments of my childhood, to when Christmas was about family, food and… tinsel! It was such a minor scent, such a brief scent, but it took me away for a small moment. And in that moment I felt a sadness… at first. I wished for the days of ole when things made so much more sense, when my family was around me, when the mind of this little girl was filled with wonderment, excitement, hope and holiday miracles. But unlike the recent past, the sadness only lasted but a moment.  After that, I had to smile.

What was happening to me? Instead of drowning in the memories, instead if allowing the sadness to consume me, I had my moment and then it was gone and I found myself looking forward instead of back. There are new memories to be made after all. I continued shopping, fond of the memory but smiling at the new things I found, and I was suddenly aware of just how far I have come.

Perhaps this will be the first Christmas since the family estrangements that the memories come with a smile instead of tears, with hope instead of emptiness. I’m not a fool – I know that not having family around will always leave a bit of a hole in my heart but I have so many good things in my life, so may good people and that’s what matters now. I can’t get those Christmas’ back but I can create new ones. I can keep the fond family memories of my childhood and be thankful that I had them once upon a time.

I may go back down that isle before Christmas, just to breathe in that scent, to breathe in that memory. Hell, maybe I will even go back and buy some tinsel garland, just for old times sake. I think I will!


9 thoughts on “When a Smell Is a Memory

  1. Maybe you should. I have found that moving on can be to vanquish some ghosts of the past by making new things in the present. Sometimes visits can spark off so many old things we forget to look for new and now. Buy it and make new memories of your own x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good. I found on a recent trip away that there were ghosts to lay for all of us. The only way forward is to outweigh the past with the future. Therein that piece at least loses its hold. 😃 Good for you. Let me know if you get it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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