D and I took the dogs to Fort Loudon and walked around the path. It was deserted except for us. The quiet as we walked by the lake was almost deafening. As we walked, we passed some baby cedars, just the right size for a small Christmas tree. I reached out and broke off a tip of one of them and the smell was overwhelming and brought back memories of many, many years ago.
I once again saw myself as a child, in that old house that my Daddy grew up in. We had an old warm morning heater in the living room and I could hear the crackle of the fire as we brought in the tree, fresh from being cut up on the hillside. The aroma was that of cedar, of the mountains, and sometimes, the snow, that had been clinging to the branches just a bit earlier.
My Mom brought out the decorations that she had for years. The lights for the tree were the big colored bulbs and each one had to be tested because if one was out, they were all out. The old white type icicles that she hung on the tree, the decorations that were so shiny, and usually contained a hint of Christmas trees in the past, still caught in the carefully preserved hooks seemed magical to a 5 year old. The tinsel that went on as a last finish to the tree was usually strung all over the living room by the time the decorating was over. Mom very patiently cleaned it all up, put the boxes in the closet, and then proceeded to wrap the gifts that would go under that tree.
My Dad could never wait until Christmas morning to open gifts, so we always opened them on Christmas Eve and it was a struggle for Mom to get him to wait until the evening of Christmas Eve. The house always had the smell of something cooking, getting ready for Christmas Dinner, and I could usually be found sitting by the stove, eating an orange or an apple and wondering what was in the packages for me.
The aroma of that tiny cedar branch from yesterday, brought back a flood of memories from yesterdays long ago. It brought smiles to my face, and warmed my heart. Now I light a candle to get somewhere close to the aroma of the cedar tree from years ago, and though we do have a fireplace, it isn't that kind that crackles and pops.
Life has changed over the years and Mom and Dad have both passed on, but the memories they gave me as a child are still here, and can be recalled, simply by the breaking of a small cedar branch and smelling once again, the Christmases of my childhood.