The smell of Christmas is in the air


It was a big three-story house with a wrap-around porch. The crisp, breeze refreshing in the summer, was drafty and damp in winter. And luckily for us, there was a stone fireplace in the living room trimmed in evergreen pines and holly.

Some of my favorite Christmas memories were with my mom and dad at the O’Connell’s. Aunt Gail (Dominica) and Uncle Dermott and their family of six: Scott, Kathleen, Chrystin, Michael, Maureen, Brian. At one time, I distinctly remember a pair of chocolate brown poodles.

The layout of the house imprints itself on my memory. The winding hallways lead downstairs to the siblings’ bedrooms and the rec room in the basement, a sweeping staircase leading us to the master suite. On the main floor, the kitchen and living room opened into a full dining room with a wood farm table, long enough to feed twelve. Meals were half-Irish, half-Italian with lots of wine (and chocolate milk for me, of course).

On December 24, you would find us in the living room hours before midnight, stringing popcorn and watching old movies. A sea of brandy snifters and mugs filled with hot chocolate and marshmallows; the crackling of wood in the fireplace, the smell of Christmas in the air.