Friday, December 18, 2020

The Gift Of Holiday Spirit From The Ornament-Finders

After the past year we've all had, I knew coming into the season that I would be lacking a good deal of holiday spirit. Since I lost my sense of smell in 2009, holiday spirit has basically been a thing of the past anyway.

If you can smell properly, you would be shocked by the magnitude of the toll not being able to smell takes. Most people think "oh, you just can't smell stuff" but it goes much, much deeper than that. For example (and this is how not being to smell ties into lack of holiday enthusiasm), since losing my sense of smell I can no longer attach scent to memories. This is a profound loss. So at Christmastime, no Christmas tree smell, no fresh baked cookie smell, no turkey or ham or lasagna cooking smell, no pretty candle smells, etc. All of the scents that would take me back to past memories...gone.

From the Portsmouth Daily TimesThe sense of smell is uniquely connected to memories, especially during the holiday season. The connection between smell and memory is strong because it is so immediate. In fact, did you know that the sense of smell is the only one of the five senses that bypasses the rational part of the brain and goes directly to the limbic area, where memory and emotion are? Which is why when you smell something, it immediately takes you on a walk down memory lane, allowing you to recall the emotion associated with that scent from the first time you smelled it. This direct connection between smell and the brain is how aromas become strong memory triggers, often without our awareness until we smell the same scent again.
”I genuinely believe that the sense of smell is the most important sense because it is so closely tied to memory. One’s life is made up of nothing but a collection of memories and experiences. To have a sense that can literally take you back 40 years to your childhood on Christmas morning in an instant – well, it’s incredible,” says Emrie Oliver, in-house fragrance expert for ScentSicles.

So that, in a nutshell, is why it's been harder to get into the spirit of things at holidays.

Throw in a pandemic and it's a wonder that I'm not crying in a closet everyday. It would be easy to choose to do that, right? But I'm not really someone who gives in and gives up easily. I have been diagnosed with depression since losing my sense of smell but thankfully it's mostly mild-ish (anxiety on the other hand? well that's a topic for another day!). I struggle, but I function, and I'm pretty good at finding ways to lift myself up enough to at least have my head above water when a funk strikes.

That's why I'm painting ornaments and giving them away and hoping to hear from the people who find them.

Which is exactly what happened twice this week:  two ornament-finders took the time to reach out an leave me messages.

One person found an ornament but decided to leave it for someone else to find in a pay-it-forward kind of way. I offered to send her one because of her kindness so she had one of her own but she said: "That's nice but not necessary. Just keep spreading joy."
The other person said: "I found your ornament today. It must have blown off the bench with all the wind last night and was lying in a little puddle on the IH (Island Heights) boardwalk. I almost didn’t pick it up... but so glad I did! It’s such a pretty ornament! You are very talented. It definitely brightened my day and my holiday spirit which has been slightly lacking this year. Thank you so much and Merry Christmas!!

And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch'sSharon's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch Sharon found the strength of ten Grinches Sharons, plus two!
Grinch-y Sharon

So the real truth is that the ornament-finders are actually giving me a gift.  In painting these ornaments and leaving them around in places for people to find, I was just wanting to lift people's spirits in a small way after this hellacious year.  Receiving messages from the finders? Well, that's kind of priceless. Because of them, I find myself having more holiday spirit than I ever would have anticipated or imagined.

Funny how these kinds of things work, right? ♥

Today's weather forecast says plenty of sunshine which I normally wouldn't like as I much prefer cloudier days, but sunny days right now mean that I can go out and place more hand painted ornaments for people to find.  In fact, we look to be dry for the next three days so I'll be doing a lot of painting and placing and hopefully spreading holiday cheer.  

It's all about the uplifting, afterall.

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