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pine flu 1 We got our Christmas tree yesterday. Our timing was impeccable. Just as we got the girls piled in the monstrosity that is our double stroller, it started to rain. Not to be deterred, we headed to our favorite purveyor of pine. The one in front of the Natural History Museum. We were very decisive. I pointed and said, "I want that big one." A nice and not hideous-looking mountain man wrapped it up, Husband threw the ten-footer over his shoulder and we marched home. Victory.

Our tree now stands proudly in the little library nook off our living room. And if you squint and look closely at the above picture, you will see that there are already two presents under the tree. My girls. My sweet girls.

As soon as that tree went up (thanks, Husband), the girls ran toward it, squealing. And, symbolically, they sat down together. Under the tree. From a short distance, I watched them. They played with a wine bucket full of ornaments. They fiddled with the branches of our new Frasier Fir. Gingerly, Toddler held a branch to her nose and inhaled. She declared that it smelled very good and then she held out that same little branch so her sister could sniff it.

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I watched them, entranced by their tiny gestures and big love. At one point, Toddler looked up at me and said, "Hey, Mom! Take a picture of us." And I did as told. I grabbed my camera and snapped away. Freezing time. Trying to at least.

And outside, it began to snow. Or was it sleet? I'm not sure and it doesn't matter. What matters is that Mother Nature waved a blustery hello. And I tried to capture the diagonal display, the white flakes, fleeting and fat. But in the picture, you can't see them. Not really. It seems there are some things that cannot be captured.

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I woke up this morning, this Sunday, and our house smelled of pine. And this smell makes me both happy and sad. Under its subtle spell, I am flooded with memories - of Christmases as a kid, of late-night letters to Santa, of that one time when I swore I heard reindeer hooves clicking on the roof. If I am not careful, these memories are dizzying and make me feel a bit sick and shaky. If I am not disciplined in my nostalgia, this smell, this sublime and impossible smell, makes me want to rewind. To go back. To have my Santa once more.

But as much as it rattles me, this Pine Flu also bolsters spirit and soul. This morning, as I looked at my two giggling girls, my two glittering gifts, I realized I love this time, this season. As my babies danced around that tree, that towering tree which must seem so big to them because it once did to me, I glimpsed memories in the making. And, in that moment, I caught a glorious whiff of pine, of childhood. Theirs.

And I realized that I don't have to go back. I'm already there.

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What smells bring you back to childhood?

Decades & Dreams

Catherine Zeta-Jones & Christmas Trees