No, I am not complaining about the aftershave Ma bought me (Issy Myake, BTW!), nor remembering the alternative version of Jingle Bells we sang in the school playground ("Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph thinks he's gay!"), but reflecting on the odd way in which smells evoke memories of Childhood. For me it wasn't the turkey or incense at Midnight Mass (I only discovered Anglo-Catholic worship at University) - it was the smell that hit my nose on Christmas Night when I was walking the dog in Cowdenbeath. The smell of a coal fire burning on the crisp night air.
Growing up in the 70's and early 80's in the heart of the West Fife mining district, coal was often used for heating. Not in our house (we had gas fired central heating) but it is a smell I associate with my grandparents house and Christmas morning there. Up the hill to Kirkford with the pressies to show them, the smell of the coal fire and breakfast was an integral part of my childhood. I really hadn't thought of it for years until I smelled the coal in the air the other night and it transported me right back. Learning how to light one properly was a skill I haven't practised in 20-30 years. Paper 1st (Daily Record, tightly wrapped into 'sticks'), then kindling. Zipp firelighters if the wood was wet then the ashes from the day before (recycling?) and finally 'sma' coal to ignite it. Big stuff only after it had caught.
What smells take you back to childhood? it would be interesting to know.