Holidays bring people to their senses Smell, touch, hear, storyteller urges

December 06, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

'Tis the season to be jolly. 'Tis also the season to smell, see, hear, touch and feel -- because Christmas and Hanukkah, Rachelle Hurwitz maintains, are as much a celebration of the senses as anything else.

"A lot of times, your memories are formed by your senses," said Ms. Hurwitz, sometimes storyteller, religion teacher and writer. "You smell an evergreen, and you think of a Christmas tree. You hear a bell jingling and you think of Santa Claus coming."

Ms. Hurwitz, a Uniontown resident and a member of the Carroll County Farm Museum Board of Governors, presented a program yesterday on creating holiday memories and traditions for children in the Farm Museum's library.

Among the participants were girls from Brownie Troop 659 of Westminster.

"How can I remember some of the wonderful things that happen at Christmas and Hanukkah?" Ms. Hurwitz asked the girls. "I can remember from my senses."

Ms. Hurwitz prompted the girls to recall some of their holiday memories by teasing their senses with a glowing candle, the muffled sounds of a bell jingling in a stocking and the fragrances of evergreen and a concoction of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

The smell "is as American as apple pie," she said of the cinnamon mixture. "It reminds me of going to my grandmother's house. Our memories are very often tied to what we smell."

Families, she said, can build holiday traditions out of that sense. She urged parents to cook meals or cookies from scratch over the holidays.

"I do a lot of cooking from scratch," said Ms. Hurwitz, the mother of three. "My house smells delicious. I think a lot of people have gotten away from that. They're used to having microwaved meals. Things just aren't as simple as they used to be."

By cooking from scratch, she said, parents will provide their children with lasting and wonderful holiday memories.

"A lot of that kind of cooking seems to fall on grandma these days," she said. "If you take the time to cook, your kids will come across that smell again some day and will say, 'I remember when I made those cookies with mom.' "

Something as simple as exchanging an artificial Christmas tree for a real tree will provide holiday smells children will remember, she said.

"You can create many holiday traditions in the family using the senses of smell and sound," she said.

Ms. Hurwitz urged the Brownies to pay "attention to things that you hear, things that you smell and things that you touch."

"They'll create some of your favorite holiday memories," she said.

Melanie Dieter, the girls' troop leader, said the visit to the Farm Museum and Ms. Hurwitz's program helped the Brownies "understand traditions and customs from another age and how they relate to today."

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