Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Season of Senses

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

A Season of Senses

Without silver bells, pumpkin pie, colored lights, snowflakes, candlelight, carols, children’s smiles, and other favorite things, the holidays just wouldn’t be the same. Humans are sensory focused creatures.

We have now entered the winter wonderland of sensory awareness. With its unique collection of experiences that delight our senses, the Christmas season can enhance the enjoyment of stimuli like no other during the year.

So much of our pleasure in life as human beings comes by way of our senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and seeing. Each holiday during the year has its own special set of foods, songs, scents, colors, and textures for us to experience. Every culture around the world has its own unique celebrations with their special sensory experiences.

Our senses bring us pleasure and sometimes pain. They are our radar for the world around us and give us impressions that affect our mood and our interaction with our surroundings. Each one of us has smells, sounds, sights, textures, and tastes that connect us to our own Christmas memories.

My father’s favorite carol was the “Little Drummer Boy” so the sound of that makes me think of him. My sister and I always got a new doll from Santa when we were young, and even now I can clearly remember the smell of the vinyl as I went to sleep. My own children say that it’s not Christmas without the smell of the sausage and egg casserole waking them up.

Spreading glistening, white angel hair all over the tree was my task as a child. Since it was made of fiberglass, the pain of it and the redness of my hands lasted for a couple of days. That’s not a good memory. Who can ever forget the story of “The Little Match Girl” and its tragic descriptive ending?

If you want to increase your enjoyment this season, try some techniques to focus your senses. Take the time to breathe deeply and notice all of the specials scents around you whether they’re food or the cold, crisp air of the outdoors. Stare at the night sky and notice the brightness of the stars and the moon. Enjoy the light displays all over the city. Listen to holiday music and try to hear the softer sounds. Find a new holiday food and learn its history and how to prepare it.

Act like a kid and touch everything. Think of all the descriptive words that are unique at Christmas. Most of all, encourage your children to do all of these things with you.

Take a long walk on a dirt road and maximize the use of your senses. Notice the small things in your world. Slow down. None of your senses work their best when you rush.

Many of the things that bring us the most pleasure during the holidays don’t cost a thing. If you focus on your sensory awareness this season, you will come closer to experiencing the real meaning of Christmas-love.

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