(For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, my apologies for this holiday-centric post. See you Thursday for more secular reading.)
Today is Christmas Eve, and a looser, more rambling post feels appropriate. Maybe you’re taking a break from wrassling dough for that mince pie, or cuing up some movies to relax by, or wrapping presents. Or maybe, like me, you’re contemplating what to wear that will accommodate a full tummy for the evening’s Feast of the Seven Fishes. The scents of Christmas — fir trees, wood smoke, Satsuma oranges, mulled cider — surround you. Sit down and relax a minute. Dial back your memory to holidays past.
Through the years, lots of readers have commented that they received their first special bottle of perfume at Christmas. The only perfume Santa has left under my tree was a Dana Chantilly gift pack, thanks to my Uncle Brian. One day not long after that Christmas, my mother took me and my sister to visit an elderly woman with long, gray hair. For this special excursion to town, I bathed in Chantilly bubble bath and followed it up with a slathering of Chantilly lotion and a splash of Chantilly Eau de Toilette. I swear I don’t know how we arrived at the woman’s house without being asphyxiated.
Her house was long and narrow and full of ragged houseplants. We only saw her once, so I don’t remember her well. (In my mind, her appearance melds with that of a woman I cleaned house for in high school. That woman, named Iris, kept heads of garlic by her door to ward off evil spirits, and she hallucinated lovers who made and then broke appointments to marry her. She had spider leg handwriting, a shelf of 1940s erotica, and a bathtub that was the devil to clean. She paid well, though, so I kept coming back.)
The woman we visited fed us sandwiches on crustless white bread and was fascinated by numerology. She added up the letters of my full name and announced that my gift was communication. Big deal. I was jealous of how my sister’s letters rang up, although I don't recall now what that was. I can't smell Chantilly today without remembering that visit.
My other beauty product Christmas gifts over the years were a Tinkerbell powder mitt from Auntie Bea and a Marie Osmond face care kit from my parents. I remember the powder mitt fondly for its clouds of talc. Auntie Bea wasn’t an aunt by birth, but was my grandma’s best friend. (That grandmother adored Revlon Moondrops, by the way.) As for the Marie Osmond kit, I’d begged for it as soon as I saw it at Kmart. It had a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer in pallid yellow plastic bottles. Its instructions, written as if by Marie herself, suggested carrying out the face care routine before you “retire.” Since I was 10 at the time and a long way from retirement, I was puzzled.
No one else in my life has risked to give me perfume at Christmas, and I don't see it happening soon without firm instruction.
What about you? What scented gifts has Santa brought you over the years?