The Scent of His Goodness
Two years ago, I chose a perfume because the light vintage-y floral reminded me of something that I couldn’t name at first. One whiff made me think of hand-crochets doilies, strings of beads, powder, and old books. The “that’s it” revelation hit me and my sister Kristy at the same time.
“Grandma Rapp’s house!”
It smelled like a rose-scented powder that Mom’s mother kept in her bathroom and bedroom.
I squirted some of that perfume on today in preparation for Thanksgiving baking.
Tomorrow I will walk into Kristy’s kitchen, smell turkey, and say, “It smells like Grandma’s house” if she hasn’t said it first. I’ll picture Grandma at her stove wearing one of her aprons that looked like a sleeveless painting smock.
I’ll remember filling pretty dishes with tiny sweet pickles, miniature dills and black olives, the job that I shared with my cousin Cindy.
Sherry filling the water glasses that Grandma and Grandpa only used on holidays.
Stuffing our olives with mashed potatoes at the kid table after we’d grown out of putting them on our fingers.
The first Thanksgiving at the adult table after we’d outgrown both of the above.
Endless games of Othello, Yahtzee, and Rack-O.
Pecan pie for Cindy and Sherry; pumpkin pie for everyone else.
Playing with the products in Grandma’s bathroom, including her floral-scented powder, and the doll with the crocheted hoop skirt that covered the spare roll of toilet paper.
Being innocent enough to think everyone had Thanksgivings as lovely as ours. (The closest thing I have to a bad holiday memory is when Uncle Wally scolded me for moving his red checker instead of my black one. At home Mom marked the red checkers with dots of White Out so Sherry and I would know which was which.)
Having a second far less sophisticated Thanksgiving with the La Chapell side. I know we ate turkey their too, but it’s the smell of ham that reminds me of holidays at Dad’s parents’ house (aka the Raunchy Rancho).
Potatoes served in the same pan that Grandma mashed them in.
No kid table or adult table, just a table, and TV trays and the couch.
“Bug juice” (the drink that came in a gallon jug and sort of resembled fruit punch) poured into metal cups that had once held cottage cheese . . . back when Dad was a kid.
Scott stuffing his mouth with mashed potatoes and slowly squirting a white worm through his puckered lips until we all cracked up and almost got in trouble.
Clobbered pie for dessert.
Being innocent enough to think every kid’s Thanksgiving included Grandma reading a psalm out of a tattered Gideon Bible before the meal, and eating to the sound of adults laughing from the other room.
Now that I’d experienced far more adult Thanksgivings than those I remember from childhood, I appreciate how blessed I was and still am to have a family—on both sides—with such a solid foundation of love, faith, and laughter. I understand that many of the celebrations fell during painful seasons, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying them or each other.
I’ve heard many times that smell is more closely linked to memory than any of the other senses, and I believe it.
Today, as I made my traditional pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, I wondered if they’d already created a happy-memory scent for Nathan, and also for Christian even though he hasn’t smelled them in a while. Their childhood included a few difficult holidays, but I pray that the smell of pumpkin will always remind my boys of how blessed we were and still are.
That we had friends to celebrate with even when we couldn’t be with family.
That their Grandpa Frank always got teary during the prayer.
That the closed anyone came to a family fight was when their mom and Uncle Brandon broke the wishbone to see who got to make soup out of the turkey carcass. (I won! Yes!!!)
That their mom always made extra muffins so everyone could feel free to eat a few, right off the cooling rack.
That even when life was difficult or the world seemed to be going crazy, God was more than good to us.
What is your favorite holiday fragrance? What does it remind you of?
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Psalm 34:8 (NLT)