For as long as I can remember, Christmas has meant oranges displayed around the house, smelling sweetly acidic and smoky, mixed with cloves and evergreen branches. Grand-mere and I would stay up late during my lengthy French Christmas vacation (almost a month!) and make my favorite holiday decoration: orange peel candles. Clementines are easier to peel, so we would start with those and work our way up to the thicker navel oranges.
We began with a small incision that grand-mere always had to make because the pith would get stuck under my nails, and I didn't like that. Then, the tricky part: peeling the entire fruit in one movement, with the "wick" at the bottom. Once that was done, I got to light the candle and gleefully watch it burn. It felt like magic. I still get that feeling every time I make one. Grand-mere is gone now, but I intend on sharing this tradition with my kids this Christmas.
A much later memory brings me to another citrus decoration, the pomander. This time, I am taken back to my pregnancy. It was Christmas, and I was only a few months pregnant. Very few people knew, and even fewer people understood how nauseated I already felt and how restless my legs already were. Most familiar smells were now unappetizing or worse, and I could barely sleep.
One night, awake when everyone else had fallen asleep hours earlier, I reached for a bowl of oranges and sat in front of an old movie stuffing every inch of those oranges with cloves. My fingers were so sore at the end, but I felt so peaceful. Every time I pierced the orange skin, a worry went out of my head. Thank you, pomanders, for a peaceful pregnancy, and a fragrant Christmas!
Finally, we are inaugurating a new orange tradition this year. With Mr. Baby walking, running, grabbing and climbing his way through the house, we are going the unbreakable ornament route, adding dehydrated orange slices to our felt and pine cone decorations. They smell great and are so easy to make: 1/2 inch slices in the oven at 275 degrees for several hours.
Orange you glad it's the Holidays?! :D