I can’t remember where I heard it, but smell is apparently the sense that’s linked most closely to memory and now that Christmas is almost upon us, I can’t help but agree.

We put up our Christmas tree last week and ever since the house has been filled with the amazing scent of gorgeous pine and now, every time I wake up and go downstairs or come home or walk into the living room or go and stick my nose in the prickles I just get these amazing happy feelings and warm memories that come from somewhere. If there’s any smell that really says that it’s the holiday season again, it’s got to be the Christmas tree and without that smell it just doesn’t really feel like the real thing. We had a fake tree a while back when we were living in Japan and we’ve used it once since then and somehow, even though everything else was in place it just didn’t feel right, but as soon as I catch a bit of the right smell then it all just magically falls back in where it should be.

The tree’s more or less what’s brought it to mind now in particular, but don’t you notice how much the smell of things will affect what comes to mind. That smell of fresh bread that they pump out in the supermarket baking section just brings up images of bakeries and chubby men in white outfits regardless of what your eyes tell you, the smell of seawater makes your eyes widen and heart beat faster whether or not you can see or hear it and nothing brings back memories of an old place like catching the particular way it smells somewhere on the wind.

Now that I’ve thought that up maybe it’s not so much memories in particular, but just every sort of connection that your mind can make…. whether or not you’ve experienced it yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever gone exploring the oceans on a raft made out of driftwood and lashed together with my own hair, but smelling the sea makes me think that I could, it just smells like adventure; I don’t think looking out on it makes anything like the same impression. In the same sort of way I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bakery that exists in my head and the behind the scenes I’ve seen in bakeries tells me that it probably doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t spring into my head completely on its own every time I take a loaf out of the oven. So maybe what really happens whenever I smell a Christmas tree isn’t that it brings up all of my own fond memories, but that it brings up all the things that Christmas represents; it’s like tapping into all the Christmases of everyone and everywhere (the Universal Kristmas Consciousness perhaps…) and giving you a little bit of that joy which every Christmas should be.

I wonder why shops don’t pay attention to the smells in their shops more, maybe it’s just something that I’m obsessed with and no one else really notices. There’s that whole fake food smells thing that loads of crap fast food places have and obviously perfume counters and soaperies always smell like they should but why aren’t Smith’s spraying nice-book-smell gratuitously around their shop or delis hanging hams in their most smellorific position? My shop was going to have smelled of chocolate and coffee and old wood, leather and books, it was something I put a bit of thought into… I guess I’ll just have to settle for having my flat smell like that (plus a mild whiff of Atakku) instead.

In the mean while I’ll just be sitting at home and reliving all the Christmases I’ve had and all the ones I haven’t every time I smell our tree.