Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sweet Smell of Christmas

Anosmia - the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial.

That is what I have. I don't know why.
It happened around age 8.
It began as partial but is now almost total.
For the most part I don't even think about it.
Around Christmas, I am more aware of it.

One of my favorite books when I was little was
The Sweet Smell of Christmas
by Patricia Scarry.
Every other page has a scratch-n-sniff sticker
associated with some wonderful Christmas smell:
hot chocolate
apple pie
candy cane.

I remember sticking my nose on each page taking it all in.
Last Winter they reissued the book.
I bought one!
But alas...
I can't smell the stickers, nor can I remember the smells.
My brain has forgotten.
It is the only time it makes me a wee bit sad.


  1. I've been reading and enjoying your blog for a few days now, after I read your comment over at A Mindful Heart.

    I've been thinking a lot about the senses lately. In the developmental college reading class that I teach, we were discussing Annie Dillard's essay, "Seeing," and then I've been reading a book called Anam Cara by John O'Donohue, and he talks about each of the senses and how they're portals into the spiritual. And I've found myself thinking about when senses don't function, and what how that so profoundly affects life experience and how it's almost impossible to imagine what it would be like to be blind or deaf.

    I've especially been thinking about the senses in relation to Christmas. I've been realizing that much of the reason I love Christmas so completely is because it appeals to every sense and enfolds me in a sensory magic that transforms the world for the month of December.

    I have never considered the possibility that you could forget what something smells like. I remember learning in psychology class that the sense of smell is strongly linked to memory and emotion because the olfactory "messages" travel through the part of the brain that processes memory and emotion. Given this information, it seems very strange that scents could be forgotten. But I'm taking your word for it.

    Since smell and taste are linked, I'm wondering if your sense of taste is affected too.

  2. Hi, Pollinatrix! Welcome aboard. I appreciate it!
    The book by John O'Donohue sounds very interesting. Might have to check that out. I have a friend that is completely color blind...everything is grayscale. It has been on my mind as I watch the trees finally changing colors. I thrive on that!! It made me sad to think my friend can't see the colors. He remembers the colors and if you describe the scene he can recreate it in his mind. I use to be able to recreate smells. There were about 5 I could remember. In the last few years I have lost the recall. The only one that hangs on is the smell of my dad's pipe tobacco, but that too is fading.
    When my daughter was born, her dad said she smelled like fresh laundry. I am curious what that smells like.
    As for taste, I can't taste flavors but I can sense sweet, sour and salty.
    Thank you!

  3. hi jenny stevning, my mum's dad had no sense of smell at all. when they made the natural gas in his house have a scent so he might know if there was a gas leak it was useless. he had no clue. luckily nothing happened!!! i've alays wondered what unmaps memory. it happens in many people, in many ways. steven

  4. I can't smell gas leaks either. Once when I was heading home, I got a sudden urge to run one more errand. Thankfully I did. It saved me from going home and sitting in a house with a major gas leak.

  5. Awww Jenny...I wish I could inject you with all of the fragrances of Christmas so you could smell the home baked cookies and holly wreath. But I must tell you how lucky you are that you can enter a Bed, Bath and Beyond without having to hold your breath.