Central Snark

“In the dew of little things…” by Snuppy
Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 9:17am
Filed under: ponderings, Teh Penguin

images21.jpegUniversity lectures officially finished today…and I am embracing three weeks of final exams and pencil chewing ahead of me. But before I dive into my books without a life boat or compas for safe return, I thought it was only right I got a little seasonal. No, it’s not that time of month…I mean that time of year.

I love the Christmas season and it starts for me when I feel the smell of oranges and clementines. Yesterday Mom went shopping and brought home a basket full of oranges and so Christmas season started this year on a Monday, around tea time.

The reason I love this smell so much goes all the way back to East Germany. No, it was not a country known for its unlimited growth of various citrus fruits. I am not sure what we were known for, if anything…maybe communism and a passion for unfortunate haircuts.

East Germany was rather poor, from hindsight of course. As a kid I didn’t think I lacked anything, simply because I did not have a frame of reference to anything else but the neighbours kids, who wore the same kind of boots and Auntie Agnes did cut their hair too.

Christmas was special even back then. I always knew the Season approached when an envelop with a fancy stamp arrived. In that rather unassuming envelope was a white sheet of paper; on it was a date, some other numbers and little tickets, usually green. The date mentioned when a special delivery would arrive to our local store and the green tickets (special Christmas food stamps) showed how much had been alotted to our particular family that year.

Christmas was all about that day. The entire village would get ready early in the morning and stand in line of the still closed store. Konsum, we used to call it. The doors opened and people moved along; nobody skipping in line, we are German after all. When our family got to the front, my Mom used to give our green stamps to the lady at the counter. She would turn around and I’d see the world’s most beautiful thing: the pile of oranges. So many of them and the lady would count the appropriate amount into my Mom’s bag. I always counted feverishly with her, hoping she’d make a mistake in our favor. Never happened and to this day I can still count all the way up to 5 without much effort.

Usually there was one orange per person. The centerpiece of the Christmas table. I used to roll mine over my arms because I loved how they felt and smelled. And when I finally had eaten mine, I put the rind on top of the massive stone-oven and a smell would fill the air of the room that today has come to mean that the Season is upon me! That, and the darn Coca Cola song of wanting to buy the world a coat…

So what triggers your senses, what is an absolute must for you to feel Christmassy or just how much of a Grinch are you? Anything goes…share!

~Penguin Out!

30 Comments so far
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It’s never feels like Christmas to me until I see a child slip on ice.

Comment by Walela

the FIRST thing i do every year is replace our regular coffee/tea cups with our Holiday-themed cups. that way i can start feeling “Christmas” with my morning tea. like you, smells play a large roll in helping to ease me into the holidays — and nothing triggers it for me quite like pine. so we always have a live tree and at least one wreath inside the house. a roaring fire works rather nicely, too!

if memory serves, oranges have “meaning” for you on a couple of levels, dear Penguin — i am completely charmed by this post, as well as thoughts of you “playing” with that yummy orange before peeling off the rind in order to sample the juicy meat. well done on setting the tone for ALL the upcoming festivities! by golly, i just may have to go out for our tree later today, if only to have it sitting in the back corner of the family room in order to fill the house with my favorite forest-y fragrance! mmmm — pine. 😉

Comment by snuppy

Walela: see much of that in Santa Clarita? 😉

Comment by snuppy

Walela, put your grammar on ice along with those children?

Snuppy, yes…Oranges sure have left traces of aroma all through my childhood. You remembered!
Nice poking the curmudgeon!


Comment by Penguin

Well, Christmas is all about arguments and tears. And since the caroling bit has been ruined by every so called band doing covers of ‘Jingle Bells’, I think a nice round of Bah Humbug!

I think the curmudgeon, the other curmudgeon thank you very much, he must have been referring to the Ice Capades. 😉

Comment by Brian

Snuppy, you’d be surprised what can be accomplished with 300 feet of garden hose and a tank of carbon dioxide.

Comment by Walela

Doug you crack me up.

I unveil my wee Christmas tree this weekend. I’m trying to find lights for a small tree. 12′ of lights seems a little excessive for a 2′ tree.

Digging around the storage unit for my x-mas decorations always signifies Christmas season. That and the plentiful boxes of Christmas oranges. yumyumyum.

Comment by littlebluepill

Brian, did you bite into a lemmon and thought it was an orange? Why so grumpy?

Walela, do you have an answer for everything? I’ve seen your garden hose, it ain’t 300 feet. Guys, always adding size!

LBP, 2 inches? How much is that in centimeters? I love my decorations, they are always reachable for me and throughout the year, I look at them once or twice. I am not scoring point today for coolness, am I?!

Comment by Penguin

Great post Penguin. You really are good at painting a vivid picture with your memories.

Its funny that you mention the oranges. When I was a kid our family was also monetarily challenged so there wasn’t an abundance of expensive things like oranges in the middle of winter. I used to love the Christmas parties thrown by the various community groups and church groups that my parents belonged to. It wasn’t for the appearance of a the fake Santa but the little plastic bag with some striped peppermint candies and one Japanese orange. I used to treasure those things.

Unlike the grinch up there, I love to hear Christmas music and its really getting me into the spirit. Getting into the spirit is also easier these days with the two Christmas angels that hang around my house. Just this morning they were negotiating with me to re-arrange the furniture and put the tree up so I guess its time!

I will reveal to you snarky people that I really do have a sappy person living inside of me. One of my favorite things to do in December is to sit in a dark room, lit only by the lights on the tree, and watch all the tearjerker Christmas specials on TV. Usually they feature a sleek wolf-like dog sneaking around, laying out hose, to make all the little kids fall down.

Comment by kyahgirl

Penguin, that was beautiful! I can just see you now, with your unfortunate haircut, rolling that orange over your arms, savoring the moment before eating it.

For me the Christmas season starts when we put up the tree. I have a collection of ornaments from when I was a kid, and now my kids are adding their own. When I was little, we had a tree with real candles in it, and I used to love sitting in the dark, drinking hot chocolate and watching the flickering flames. Now we have an artificial tree, so candles are a bit too dangerous, but the tree still looks nice, especially when the cat is asleep under it, instead of climbing up it.

Comment by Theresa

Great post! My mom had tons of ceramic figurines and I always looked forward to the day that she would cover up the furniture with a blanket of white felt (the snow of course) and place all those little angels, sleighs an houses on it. Then we would play Christmas music on the phonograph. When I got a little older, the Christmas cartoons on TV were another huge sentiment for me.

Comment by Jeff

Kyahgirl, I can see that in you and there is no shame in having a teary and fuzzy side within. I like warm people. I like candle light as well and I bet your place looks wonderful. It was magical when we were kids, wasn’t it?!

Theresa, decorating the tree. Definitely a getting into the mood experience. I remember way back there were different colored bells we had, with a bit of snow powder on them…my siblings and I used to fight over who gets to hang those up. I have looked quite a bit in Germany but have never seen them again.

Jeff, I am glad and thank you. In the nursing home there is one old lady who does exactly that. She has many ceramic houses in Christmas style…she takes down all teh usual stuff standing on taht table, and puts a white cloth onto teh table, onto that cloth go the ceramic houses, in each she puts an electric light…then we turn off teh light and it is beautiful. Your story reminded me of that!

Comment by Penguin

Any sign of a Crummy Book in Iceland yet? The one I sent to India arrived!

Comment by CrummyJoel

Crummy, there are plenty of crummy books. None of which has your name on it though 🙂
As I said in my comment below, I am blaming the polar bears for now 🙂

Comment by Penguin

Our family room aglow with the warm and colorful hues of softly blinking christmas lights displayed on a wonderfully scented, fresh cut tree.

That’s Christmas to me.

Comment by BoBo

2 feet, babe. 2 feet. 2 inches would be, well, a lot like Doug’s garden hose. Not much.

Comment by littlebluepill

BoBo: “our family room… blah blah blah…fresh cut tree”, and ME covered from head to toe in sticky pine tar, right? (since i’m generally the one who lands the job of stringing up those lights, in the first place) Deck the Halls, Fa-La-La-La-Laarrrrgh. d’oh! (that said, that’s when the house feels Chrismassy to me, too) 😉

Comment by snuppy

Ouch, Brian. I do that – community bands and stuff. About the only part of Christmas I can’t do without.

But look on the bright side. At least I’m not doing dogfights in the sky.

Comment by oceallaigh

Bobo, that sounds very nice, all it needs is a penguin in a red scarf rushing aorund singing carols, making cookies and tell stories about how polar bears intercept Christmas letters 🙂

LBP…two feet, can I have that in centimeters? I am guessing 50! You should have 10 lights 🙂

Snuppy, who knows who might help you this year. You covered in pine tar, I guess alll the Mexican food would stick on you for days…always a ready snack. Think about it!

OC, and I bet you do a good job with it too. I suspect Quilly will hear old Christmas songs in trumpet format this year. It sounds lovely!

Comment by Penguin

Penguin, I think two feet is about 60 cm. LBP, you’re pushin’ for a wack with a garden hose. Kyah, we’re all stunned by the news. OK, Penguin, I’m done guerilla moderating.

Comment by Walela

Walela: mighty defensive about the length that hose, aren’t ya??? 🙄

Comment by snuppy

I didn’t mean you OC. Look guys, things aren’t going great right now. I know, I published “Real Magic” and I should be happy and I am. It seems surreal that my name is available on Amazon. Rose is finishing her first book as well and it’s going to be great.

The thing is, Diane isn’t doing so well these days and I’m pretty worried. Oh she’s not on the verge of anything drastic, but she has really bad anemia on top of everything else and she sleeps most of the day.

I’m fine with being a multiple personality and even though I don’t blog that much anymore I wanted to thank all of you for being my friends and I miss y’all.

Comment by Brian

Walela, glad to have that off your chest, huh?!

snuppy, he brought it up!

Brian, I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. Life seems to have picked this autumn to give all of us a bit of a trial, I hope yours resolves itself somehow, sooner than later.

Comment by Penguin

Oh what a cozy post to return to!

I loved your words and the images conjured up by your memories… sweet indeed!

Christmas is bittersweet for me… as a child the beauty and richness of it lived within my grandfather and the joy of it all was attached to his presence… and ever since his passing, his absence is something that grows each year and, whilst living with my mother and siblings, Christmas was an empty struggle of materialism between her and my uncles and us children the pawns… we did very much enjoy the material spoils but the aftertaste was just empty and bitter as the snippets of time before and after the opening of the gifts were nothing short of toxic…

So now that I have my own family, it is not about the material, though the kids do relish in it… it is about thought and consciousness existing in the smallest details… the gifts are not to out-do anyone but to truly connect to the desires of the child and see their faces light up at the surprise of a wish come true however small or big the physical manifestation may be… at relishing in the togetherness and enjoying the quiet in each other’s presence… at soaring on the energy of the season when out and about in our beautiful dreamed-and-yearned-for-so-sorely-whilst-away-in-self-exile-in-Spain city that is San Francisco… and for me, it is a dedication of the beauty that is and the beauty that I can conjure up to my brother and grandfather, who are always, without fail, sorely missed on such a grand occasion…

Loved this post dear Minka… and with that, a tired BoheMia… OUT!

PS- come on over and say hola as I try to return to the blogosphere yet again! Oy…

Comment by Miz BoheMia

I like the Scandinavian traditions of an advent calendar, preferably with tiny nisse or chocolate behind the doors, and a hit of schnapps in my coffee to start the day off right.

Comment by Deb

The smell of oranges studded with cloves. We made these as gifts (lo-tech air freshener). Big family = not much $ for buying stuff.

Comment by claire

Miz Bohemia, it is lovely to see you over here today and with such greta thoughts about a season that sometimes overwhelms rather than bring the spiritual joy that is intended. I am looking very much forward to this Christmas, as I do every year.

Deb, I have just such a calender and I will post a picture of it on the 1st when I open my first door…

Claire, My Mom does that…I guess because she always did. I think it smells delicious and looks very Christmassy.

Comment by Penguin

This reminds me of my Night Before Christmas poem that I may have to reprise for the season. Nothing says Christmas to we Jews like Chinese food and the movies. But before that, the 24 hour Christmas Story marathon is usually playing in our home to the amusement of all.

That was really a very charming sweet story and I can just picture a younger but no less astute you, counting off the oranges. Here’s to a holiday season filled with them! XOX

Comment by Lampsha

lampsha, not once did the lady make a mistake in counting and I was always particularly nice to her all year. Well, I think teh scarcity of teh Orange sin teh first place made them so special for me…so I am ok with it now 🙂

Comment by Penguin

Growing up we always had a real tree in a revolving tree stand with a little manger scene underneath. I’d lay on the floor looking at the creche and the shabby, chipped Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus, then I’d lay on my back under the tree and look up through the branches at the lights while the stand whirred and the tree slowly rotated around my head. (All trees are perfect from this perspective.) I’d wait for my favorite ornaments to pass over, and bask in the wonderful smell.

Comment by Shieldmaiden96

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