The Smells of Christmas

The Smells of Christmas

Ahh, the smells of Christmas…. The fresh pine-scent of trees and wreaths; the ham baking; the cookies cooling; the cinnamon and nutmeg wafting from ovens and eggnog; and the rank scent of fresh, steaming manure … What!? [record screeeeech!!]

Yes, it’s actually one of the smells of Christmas if you think about it. Christ was born in a stable. And that makes Christmas the season of apple pies and, uhem, cow pies.

I’m not trying to be crude. I’m just stating the facts. The place of Christ’s birth was crude. It smelled like, well, a stable, a place where you feed and bed animals. And that fact is not insignificant.

If Christ can be born in a stinky stable, then he can be born into the foul stench of my sinfulness too. And have you ever pondered the fragrance of Christ’s birth? Mary is the new Garden of Eden from which the New Adam sprung forth. In that stable in Bethlehem, the fragrance of her garden was “wafted abroad” (Song of Songs).

Oh! Can’t you just see those cows and donkeys passing out from the sweet intoxicating aroma of Jesus’ birth? And I can’t help but think of one of my favorite lyrics from my favorite band, U2. As Bono belts out, Freedom has a scent / Like the top of a newborn baby’s head!

Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation, of the embodiment of God. This means our senses play a critical role in encountering the divine.

In the midst of so many things clamoring to fill up our senses in the commercialization of Christmas, what can we do to fill up our senses with the mystery of the divine?

Image from the film “The Nativity Story” (New Line Cinema).