Smells Along the Way to Bethlehem

Smells…aromas…good…bad…and never smell again!

I teach an author visit session entitled, “How to Eat an OREO Cookie!” we use each of our senses, looking at the cookies and jotting down our thoughts and observations. Next touch, hearing, smell until finally after much “wait…wait, not yet.” And then finally, “Try it but I mean really try it, roll a piece around in your mouth, think about how it feels, rough smooth, crumbly, mushy…now write down what you are experiencing.” I love this class because the students are experiencing something we often take for granted. The gift of our senses is really a gift for us to relish every day of our lives.

Some of my favorite memories of scents are, I knew my Dad had something important happening when after showering he put on his aftershave, Old Spice. There was a time he wore, Deep Woods Cologne after my mom gave him a gift of the latest Avon produce. Mrs. Anderson, the Avon sales lady, stopped by our home and told her about the newest products and gave her a little sample of it. The smell when they place each of my babies in my arms for the first time. That new baby smell is priceless and to be remembered forever. Lilacs of spring, Lilies of the Valley come later in spring, followed by peonies all with a fragrance not to match any man-made produce. Fresh-cut grass or hay on the farm. I haven’t even begun on the goodness of food. My grandfather didn’t have a sense of smell. My grandma told us a story about grandpa and his lack of smell. No one ever knew why he couldn’t smell just that he didn’t smell. This meant most often he didn’t taste either because these two senses work in tandem. One day, Grandma went to town and told grandpa there was soup on the table on the porch for his lunch. They had a porch on their farmhouse where grandma stored her cookies, or leftovers when the refrigerator was short on space. Grandpa came in from the barn and fixed his bowl of soup for lunch. When Grandma got home from town and noticed the soup had not been touched, she asked Grandpa why he’d not eaten lunch yet. He said he had but asked, “What kind of soup did you make, that had both chicken bones and beef in?” On the cold porch, Grandma also kept a pot of scraps for the chickens. Grandpa couldn’t taste the pot of scraps just knew it looked a bit watery and had both beef bits and chicken bones! God blessed them both.

Working as a nurse on an insolation wing, I know there are some smells I will never forget. The smell of gangrene or pseudomonas is a smell you will never forget once you smell it. I know we rubbed the oil of cloves on our masks so as not to get the odor in our nasal hairs. It’s almost 50 years ago, but I can still remember the smell of cloves covering up the smell of infections. Another smell from my nursing days I will always remember is an accident patient coming up to the floor from ER who needed to be cleaned up after a car accident and have been drinking. The smell of old beer spewing from every pour of their body may be the reason I have no desire to sip on a good cold beer.

The gift of smell is such a wonderful gift and I wonder how and why God even thought to grace us with such an important gift. It can give us such wonderful pleasures, memories, and joys while protecting us from danger and disease as well. You can smell foul food, unhealthy living conditions, the smell of infection, and potential disease. There are even studies that show that we can smell danger in the area and our minds know to leave. Remember there is always the faint skunk odor that warns a person to stay away!

Our sense of smell is a magical thing, so remember to thank God for his Gift of smell and for allowing me to recall my grandpa’s pipe, a rose along the way, and my mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

2 thoughts on “Smells Along the Way to Bethlehem

  1. Terri, thank you for the hospitality I encountered when I stayed rather than fight the blowing snow and treacherous drive from Mankato to Madelia. It was a safe haven.


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