As a child, Christmas Eve was always special to me. That was the day we got together with our extended family to exchange gifts and celebrate. On this night we would eat special foods that were only for Christmas: red velvet cake, oyster stew, sugar cookies, fudge, and many other goodies.
Then I married a soldier. I have not spent Christmas with my family in 13 years. Some years I have felt a deep longing for those tasty traditions and familial comforts. I have incorperated many into our own celebrations. My husband's family has food traditions of their own and we have enjoyed melding them. I always make his mother's ginger cookies and my grandmother's red velvet cake. For me, these are the tastes and smells of the holidays.
One year, while we were living overseas, my cousin sent me a package for Christmas. I opened it to find homemade chocolate-covered peanut butter balls like our grandmother made when we were children. The moment I inhaled the sweet scent I began to cry. I was shocked by the power of the memories those candies invoked!
I hope that my children will have similar memories of the holidays. I want the smell of ginger cookies to flood them with feelings of love and happiness!