What scent immediately fires up your nostrils and engages your brain in holiday reverie? Newly-cut pine? Peppermint? The smell of fresh plastic symbolizes celebration to me. Childhood holidays meant re-assessing the year, the constant threat of Santa’s ambiguous list (what constituted naughty? Hiding the cookies in my bedroom? Or that kid who kicked dirt at everyone, but got a new bike every year? I never understood the criteria.) and hoping that somehow my violations had slipped by the ever-watchful eyes of the Elf Mafia. No matter what the offense, the smell of fresh plastic in the dark of Christmas night assured me that good things were coming.
One especially significant plastic bouquet belonged to the folding Barbie House of my seventh year. I had wished for a three-story manse, one with an actual elevator and an extra bedroom for the occasional sleepover with Skipper, or Flatsy if the party went totally interspecies. My nostrils flared with the smell of “new” that night, as I laid in my bed imagining the great adventures in fine living ahead for my formerly homeless Malibu Barbie.
I awoke to a simple three-room cottage, consisting of a bedroom, kitchen and a mystery room of many uses. It was Barbie on a modest budget. There was, however, room for outdoor expansion, and eventually chez Barbie obtained a dining table, a refrigerator and an outdoor bathtub. At the end of the day, the three sections of cozy living folded up neatly. Each night I would dream of new adventures, a clean slate each morning as I re-opened the case and started over.
Barbie had plenty of room for guests and even hosted a celebrity. Truly Scrumptious, on temporary hiatus from her life in the movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang dropped by once for plastic steak. She didn’t seem at all disgusted to sit on the floor and politely left her one shoe by the fake door without complaint.
The smell of fresh vinyl still gets me tingly. It’s about anticipation. More exciting than the act of gift opening is the plethora of possibilities in the dark of the night prior to gift giving. Close your eyes and imagine.