Our mother loved to get new ideas for the holidays from Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Garden magazines. She never followed the directions, making weird substitutions if she didn’t have certain ingredients or didn’t like the list of mandatory requirements.
One year she learned about pomander orange clove balls. They were rather expensive to make, even more so since our money was tight. That did not stop her. Off to the store she flew to buy large, deluxe, juicy oranges, bunches of spice cans filled with whole cloves and several other spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves.
Upon her return, into the kitchen she went to begin making these deluxe orange air fresheners. Abby and I wondered what was consuming her attention so ventured out to the kitchen to take a peek. Mary was intently focused on pushing the tiny cloves into each orange. In our youthful naivete, we could smell the delicious aromas and were hoping that maybe she was making something fabulous for us to eat.
When she realized we were there, she turned around and yelled
Keep your mitts off these oranges! I am working on a special project and this fruit is not to eat!
Abby and I were not only disappointed but perplexed by what kind of project she had that was turning our kitchen into a spice filled wonderland.
I kept wondering, why would anyone waste good oranges on an air freshener? Abby and I loved big juicy oranges because we so rarely had them. The more we smelled, the hungrier we became. After several hours, Mary had completed her project of making pomander and orange air fresheners. They looked like brown encrusted orbs, maybe something that had spoiled. They did smell good but a bit powerful and slightly treacly.
Mother seemed pleased with the results and announced to Abby and me that she had just done her best to make our home more Christmasy. Truth be told, Abby and I would have preferred biting into a big juicy orange and foregoing the brown encrusted balls.