Scents take readers home for the holidays

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

Of all our memories of the holidays, none are perhaps more vivid to recall than the fragrant smells we associate with the Christmas season.

And there's a scientific reason for that.

&#8220It's a byproduct of how we are wired,” John Colombo, a professor of cognitive psychology at Kansas University, said.

&#8220Odor molecules travel directly from the nose to the brain, and the human brain has the capacity to discern many different scents and associate them with specific people, situations or memories.”

It's not unlike hearing a song that takes you back to a specific moment in time, except the brain's ability to remember scents is even stronger, Colombo says.

Several readers from near and far shared with The Greenville Advocate the scents that take them &#8220home for the holidays”:

n &#8220There's nothing better than the smell of fresh Christmas greenery. I have had the privilege of decorating many houses in Greenville over the years, and it is a joy to help these homes come to life with fresh cedar, pine, and balsamŠit's like magic for enhancing and adding really special decorations for the holidays. - Nancy Idland, Greenville

n &#8220It's the food smells I love most; gingerbread baking, chocolate melting, coconut being combined with nuts, sugar, and milk to make candy or cake frosting.” -Sara Killough Torruella, Foley

n &#8220I love the smell of blue spruce. It reminds me of the old-fashioned Christmases of days gone by.” - Priscilla Davis, Greenville

n &#8220I grew up in South Texas where there were no pine trees. So I anticipated the purchase of a Christmas tree with the natural pine scent. I also remember the fragrance from the kitchen as my mother prepared candied citrus peel, what a treat!” - Phyllis Killough, Mobile

n &#8220My most memorable scents are cinnamon and fresh pine.” – Dr. Tera Simmons, Greenville

n &#8220I love the smell of the fireplace burning in our den. Also, the smell of dried apples and cinnamon from the years that my grandmother sold her wreaths and apple baskets. That's a smell we all got a little sick off, but now, it brings back good memories.” - Stacey Edwards, Greenville

n &#8220The smell of spiced cider simmering on the stove is wonderful and I love the smell of either pine or cedar trees.” Ashley Thigpen, Greenville

n &#8220I loved the smell of the cedar tree we always had when growing up, and  Mama's pecan cake baking. The scent of fresh coconut for Mama's homemade coconut cake with cooked icing.” – Sue Arnold, Greenville

n &#8220Mama makes sausage balls and blueberry muffins every Christmas morning. That is the smell I most associate with Christmas.” - Shannon Franklin, Birmingham

n &#8220I remember the perfume that emanated from Mama, my great-grandmother. The smell when she put the Lane cake (all seven layers) out to ‘soak' right after Thanksgiving. It smelled like a mixture of Coty, Old Granddad and love.” - Ralph Stacy, Greenville

n &#8220When I was probably five or six years old, I can remember going to pick out a beautiful Christmas tree in the woods to cut down, and the smell of cedar all around.” - Claire Jones, Greenville

n &#8220Sugar cookies and peppermint, especially peppermint.” - Erica Knight, McKenzie

n &#8220I will never forget the smell our early Christmas trees had. Spindly pine trees that I had to finagle a base so they would stand erect. All the needles would be on the floor by New Year! But the old pine smell will live on.” - Bernard Lewis, Greenville