Monday, December 10, 2007


This time of year, we bring oranges to the table and the smell alone is enough to evoke Christmas memories and remind us of the traditions we once loved dear.

In our house growing up, oranges were a holiday treat. We'd shave the zest into Mummy's English shortbread. We'd flavor the brandy butter for the figgy pudding with orange liquor. Every year we'd receive a large box of fresh Florida oranges from Mama Sonia and Papa Roger—each fruit individually wrapped in white and gold tissue paper. When Santa came he'd always leave an orange in the toe of our stocking. (That's how we knew we were at the bottom!)

We'd make pomander balls by poking a plump orange with fragrant whole cloves and hanging it to dry. As a child this was one of my favorite Christmas activities—and it still is! Moreso than gift-giving, carol-singing, Christmas-shopping and cookie baking. Now, whenever I smell orange and clove, I think, "Christmas, special, family, shortbread, happy, cozy, pomander ball!"

I love the idea of relegating the orange—such a special fruit—to holiday enjoyment. These days, when we're able to get any kind of food or fruit any time of the year, I yearn for the simplicity of yesteryears' traditions. When having certain things at certain times made those things special (oranges in December, strawberries in June). We find nourishment in that simplicity and we pass it on so that others may also know that feeling and grow from it. So here, I pass on our beloved pomander balls to be enjoyed during the holidays:

How to Make Pomander Balls

You'll need: 1 orange, ribbon and whole cloves.

Wrap the ribbon around the orange once, then twist and wrap the other way like a present. Tie the ends into a bow. Insert the cloves into the skin of the orange until the surface is evenly covered. If the fruit is juicy, you can roll the pomander ball in ground cinnamon to absorb the liquid. Then hang the fruit to dry in an airy place. Retie the ribbon every couple of days as the fruit dries and shrinks. Eventually, after a few weeks the fruit will harden and become completely dry. At that point, you can tie off the ends of the ribbon into a knot and hang as an ornament on the tree!



Unknown said...

How lovely! I just decided yesterday, that on the last day of school, I shall give each of my students a copy of "Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit" ("How The Grinch Stole Christmas"), and then we'll spend the rest of classtime making pomanders. How strange that you should write about it less than 24 hours later. It makes glad my heart that you would hold this old family activity so dear. Ahhh! Maman xxx

Kathleen said...

l had totally forgotten - but my mom used to do this when I was little! Reading your post made me remember that delicious smell... Maybe Mark and I will do one tonight (to add to that amazing pine fragrance filling the apartment)!

Hope all is well!

Lauren said...

That picture is quite impressive!! I'm loving my pomander balls!!

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