The day before the Feast of the Epiphany on the Western Christian Calendar, and Christmas Eve on the Eastern Christian calendar, I’m thinking a lot about oranges and gladness. One of the reasons I grew up loving Christmas is because there was so much I could count on happening – particular rituals that brought me joy both because I lived in a state of uncertainty much of the time and because they were tied back to this story of great love. Of the many rituals of Christmas – reading the various gospel narratives, singing carols – one of the glories of Christmas morning was always the golden globe of an orange.
My parents might tell you those oranges were just tradition, harking back to an era when oranges were not easily acquired in snowy areas, and thus were dear, dear treasures indeed. They might also have been part of the attempt to avoid the sugar rush of homemade candy gifts, along with the requirement to eat a solid family breakfast before stockings. Both ways they worked. Today, the sight of oranges always makes me smile. That means I smile a lot; I live in Florida, and oranges are everywhere, including on our license plates.
But even now, when the pleasures of winter fruits are very fresh and readily available to me – grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, tangelos, starfruit, avocadoes, bananas, pomegranates, and coconuts -- oranges hold a special place for me. First, oranges are beautiful fragrant spheres. They fit easily into my hands, and did so even as a child. Secondly, they take time to eat; I am invited to savor the splendor of the fruit through the careful peeling, segmenting, and seeding. Then there is the pop and burst of each tiny vesicle of juicy goodness! So many brilliant sensations! One of the easiest fruits to divide cleanly and equitably, oranges invite us to share the pleasure with others, creating good memories and nurturing our whole spirit.
In this time when so many of us have less than we need, I hope that today you’ll share a real and a metaphorical orange with someone else. Take a few minutes to offer a piece of your story and what gives you gladness, and listen to someone else’s glad tidings to tell. Savor the sweetness, and let the fragrance of happiness waft through your day.