Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Gifts of Fragrance at Christmas

Christmas of 1962, I was thirteen. One gift I wished for was bottles of perfume. The girls at Perkins always wore lovely scents; I wished to be part of their crowd. Fragrance always fascinated me. My wish would start coming true before Christmas Day.

The night of the Perkins annual Christmas party was exciting. I was lucky to grab a can of Avon talcum powder from the grab bag outside of Dwight Hall. I immediately loved its sweet, spicy scent. At the cottage party, my gift was a glass bottle of bubble bath.

On Christmas Eve I was elated to receive Apple Blossom and other fragrances, including Tweed cologne. My mom’s friend gave me a lovely box with three bars of Yardley of London’s English Lavender soap. These gifts were special and made me feel more grown-up. My avid fascination and interest in fragrances had only begun blossoming.

During my adolescence, my parents would surprise me with gifts of small bottles of fragrance throughout the year. The spring of 1963, I received the delicate, soft, sweet scent “On The Wind” cologne. The winter of 1964, my mom and I both got a small bottle of real French perfume from a friend. At this same time, she bought me “Fresh,” a delightfully perfumed deodorant.

I was introduced to new fragrances at Christmas. I remember fondly Shoulton’s Early American Old Spice gift set, “April Showers” cologne, a Jeanne Natae gift set and Shoulton’s “Desert Flower” cologne.

“Desert Flower” evokes pleasant and sentimental memories. In December, when I was 21, I touched a small, daintily wrapped package on our living room mantel. When I inquired about it, my mom said, “it is something your father bought you.” On that snowy Christmas morning in 1970, I was handed this small package with its lustrous shiny paper. I opened it and was delighted to discover that it was one of my favorite fragrances. The round bottle of “Desert Flower” cologne had tiny dotted square imprints, unlike today’s plain nondescript perfume bottles. I liked its soft, delicate floral scent and wore it often. I would put it, and the four small bottles of Yardley fragrances my dad gave me, on my large bureau. At 21, I was content and did not expect major changes in my life. Even though my father was not in great health, I was sure he would be with us for years.

However, In mid August 1971, my dad died of a sudden heart attack. In January 1972, on a mild Monday afternoon, I could not resist buying another bottle of Desert Flower cologne. Smelling its delicate floral essence, I fondly remembered and missed my father. I will always cherish that happy Christmas and the gentle gesture of love he showed with that thoughtful gift.

My life did change. After I married my husband, he would often give me fragrances for Christmas. I received “Lauren by Ralph Lauren,” “Wind Song by Prince Matchibelli,” and “Chanel Number 5,” as a Valentine’s Day gift. Although “Desert Flower” is almost impossible to find, there are many beautiful new scents. One I like is Yardley’s “Iris,” which is inexpensive and can be bought at Parfume1. Pacifica’s lilac soap is lovely, as is Make Scents’ lilac and rain fragrances. To all Ziegler readers: have a great Christmas; may you receive love, happiness and wished for gifts.

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