Advent Blog Tour: It’s All About The Orange. Sort Of.

My grandfather lived in Holland for as long as I can remember, and when he came to visit us in the States he would always bring us Dutch chocolate. There would be Droste pastilles, bittersweet and milk sharing sides of the same tablet, or chocolate oranges, which were our favorite.

My brother and I would smack the orange and eat as many pieces as we could before my mother put them away in the fridge, allowing us one or two slices a day. At least that way they lasted longer.

Those chocolate oranges weren’t available in Illinois in the 1960’s. They were a token of affection meant just for us from our grandfather, and they were extra special because of their rarity.

When he passed away, I made it part of my gift to always give my brother a chocolate orange at Christmas. I was excited when they were offered here, at the local Walgreens, and I’d buy it with the same joy and anticipation I’d felt toward the ‘fruit’ when I was a child.

One year, a few Christmases ago, my sister-in-law looked at me across the table. “Would you do me a favor?” she asked in her loud voice. “Wouldja quit buying your brother those stupid oranges? I put them in the freezer because he forgets about it, and then I throw them away. Every year.”

I sat looking at her, and I didn’t have a clue as to how I should respond. Eventually, I just congratulated myself for not crying, and nothing more was ever said about it.

But, every year, when my husband and I see the chocolate orange, he says, “Let’s buy one for Charlene.”  I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to mention it, for one thing. But, I also no longer want to share what was special to me with someone who doesn’t appreciate it.

This year, I’ve decided that I’m going to buy a chocolate orange, in dark chocolate if I can find it, and I’m going to unwrap the  foil slowly. I’m going to remember my grandfather putting them in his suitcase, and carrying them all the way from Amsterdam to Chicago, just to give to my brother and I. I’m going to eat each slice one day at a time, as I used to do when I was six. I’m going to treasure the blend of chocolate and orange on my tongue, and not let any one rob my joy.

Because it’s easy to lose one’s joy. It’s easy to get discouraged, or sad, or lonely, or let down at Christmas. In fact, I suspect that’s one of the easiest times in the world that our joy can be stolen from us. But, let’s not allow that, shall we? Let’s not lose what we hold dear to hearts. Let’s treasure it, and keep it, and polish it up for the holidays. Let’s share it with others who will appreciate it like we do.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Find more Advent posts all month long at the Virtual Advent Tour.
Advertisements

63 thoughts on “Advent Blog Tour: It’s All About The Orange. Sort Of.”

  1. The chocolate oranges are a tradition for us, too. The dark chocolate is the best! You SIL's remark would have made me cry (after trying to stifle an angry, sarcastic response)…your self control was admirable.

    Like

  2. Bellezza -Wow. I can't say it's a great story but it is. I love the memories I have of my grandmother and I cherish all my childhood Christmas memories.You're right to not let your SIL ruin your memory of your grandfather.Thanks for sharing.cjh

    Like

  3. Lovely post Bellezza. It's fantastic to try and find ways to keep the memories of the special people in our lives with us after they have gone.Thanks for participating in our tour!

    Like

  4. What a lovely post to read to start this blessed holiday season. Your self-control with regards to your s-i-l's thoughtless comment is to be greatly admired. You truly did exhibit the true meaning of Christmas.Savor and enjoy every single bite of that delicate treat this holiday season. And you are right…..I must concentrate on preserving my own joy this month and not allow anyone to take that away from me.Merry, Merry Christmas!

    Like

  5. I loved this post and needed to hear it today, thanks. My post yesterday will explain why.and seriously, I think we grew up in the same family. I have so many traditions from my family that I hold dear. I have passed them on to my children, but my brother's kids have no clue about any of them…..sad. It makes me smile thinking of you enjoying one perfect slice of that orange!!

    Like

  6. Ah, I remember those chocolate oranges. I think my grandparents brought us one when they were visiting one year.I loved reading about your memories of your grandfather and am saddened that your brother (and SIL) doesn't share the same appreciation for those memories of such a simple gesture of love. I would've been crushed by such an insensitive remark and applaud you for holding your tongue.We won't be home for Christmas, so I've decided to skip the tree this year. Still trying to figure out what works best for us with regards to celebrating this holiday that is so full of memories of us as a family of four, not three. I may just get a few decorations out to make the house look a little festive. Thanks for sharing such a meaningful message, Bellezza. Love & hugs to you.

    Like

  7. What a great story. I'm missing my Mom and Dad today. Daddy passed away in 2002 – yes, it's 7 years ago, but it seems like yesterday that he was still with me. Mom died in 2004. She had Altzheimer's disease, so when she died peacefully in her sleep, my thought was – "Now she knows me again." My little family – my husband & I, two daughters and a son – try to keep traditions alive as you are. I hope you have a warm and happy Christmas. Enjoy your chocolate orange!

    Like

  8. What a wonderful reminder that sometimes our words can be so damaging. I would hope that if your sis-n-law knew the whole story she would regret her words. I think you are so right we let people rob us of our joy and our memories. What a great commitment to yourself not to let that happen. Merry Christmas.

    Like

  9. We do the chocolate orange tradition as well. We go through quite a few during the holiday season, everyone wants a turn smacking the orange. lolHappy holidays!

    Like

  10. That's a wonderful post, Bellezza. I'm sorry your sister-in-law doesn't appreciate the oranges and was so harsh in her request of you. But I'm glad YOU still enjoy them! I've never had one myself. Will have to remedy that! Walgreens, huh? Will search it out!

    Like

  11. Definitely keep buying those for yourself! (And just send your brother's to me–I love chocolate oranges!)Isn't it funny how memories get built like that though? I always had an orange in the toe of my stocking on Christmas morning, because that's what my Grandpa (who adored Christmas) always put in my mom's stocking. I love the idea that when I have a kiddo someday she or he too will get an orange in the stocking on Christmas morning.

    Like

  12. The chocolate orange is a wonderful way to honor your Grandfather's memory. Can you imagine the care he took to carry those all of way from Europe to delight his grandchildren. It is lovely that you have those memories and can bring them forward during the Christmas season.

    Like

  13. What a mean, mean person. Mean to say it in the first place. Mean to spoil your vision of your brother. Mean mean mean. Maybe she should have received the 'whack!' Anyhow, I'm happy for your good, good grandfather. He is the important part of this whole story. And I love the combination of orange and dark chocolate. I'm going to look for some for my family – though they would all want the milk choc. version. :<)

    Like

  14. What a great post. I was so sad for your brother for not appreciating such a thoughtful gift, but I really like the things you learned from the experience. What a great Christmas message. Thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  15. Yum!!! Every year I buy a few chocolate oranges, with dark chocolate, from Target. In fact, I'll be going by there on the way home today to pick up a new Christmas tree topper (ours bit the dust) and to pick up some of these dark chocolate beauties. My daughter and I make them last, only eating a slice or two a day. It is one of our newer traditions, only about 4 years old or so, but is one of our most delicious!!!

    Like

  16. I find myself captivated by the image of your grandfather, carefully packing those oranges and carrying them so far for the grandchildren he obviously adored.Hold on to that part of the memory and enjoy your dark chocolate this orange.Have a wonderful Christmas.

    Like

  17. I was really touched by your post! I'm so sorry your SIL said what she did; there is absolutely nothing "stupid" about you wanting to keep a family tradition alive and remember your grandfather. I think it's great that you keep it up! I hope you enjoy your chocolate orange this year! 🙂

    Like

  18. Fantastic post! I always want to start Christmas traditions now that I am older, but I never seem to do so… I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for joining in for the Virtual Advent this year!

    Like

  19. I went to Wal-Mart this afternoon and I FOUND THE CHOCOLATE ORANGES! If I hadn't read your post this morning, I wouldn't have know what they were. We're going to start a tradition of our own. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Like

  20. I'm so glad you will take back your joy – we all have our own way of remembering our loved ones. I talk of my Gramma Grace without worrying how others will take it. She has been gone almost 9 years now.Did your brother know why you were giving him the orange chocolate? I would have looked at my brother and asked if he didn't remember Grampa giving us the orange every year. I figure the SIL wouldn't know the story and maybe your brother had a different memory of your Grandfather. Course, I'm the lippy one in our family ;)Have a wonderful Holiday Season!CindyS

    Like

  21. I'll get a chocolate orange (because I love the orange chocolates) this Christmas and think of you when I enjoy it. Dutch chocolate is so yummy. I remember learning to have chocolate sprinkles on my toast when I was young and had Dutch neighbours. Enjoy your Christmas, and memories of your grandfather, and don't let her wreck your tradition. I'd give one to your brother anyway, and add a letter remembering when you were young. He might have forgotten the significance.

    Like

  22. What a wonderful post! I have never tried one of the chocolate oranges so maybe I'll give one a try this year! It's too bad about your sister in law – but as someone else mentioned, maybe she didn't know…

    Like

  23. Bellezza,My "orange" is sitting here on my desk, where it's been for several weeks. It looks like a book, and in fact it is a book. I didn't write the book, but inside the book are poems I did write. They're published. Printed on paper. Real.When those books arrived, my response was strange. I looked at them, read them, and put them on the shelf. I've not shared them with anyone or acknowledged them to anyone, and now your single sentence helps me understand why:"…I also no longer want to share what was special to me with someone who doesn’t appreciate it."All of us on these blogs share a love of books, reading and writing, but not everyone in the world does. And not everyone in my world appreciates the amount of time I spend "playing on the computer".It's complicated, but clear: I'm hiding my "orange" until I'm strong enough to enjoy it, without someone stealing my joy.Thank you for helping me understand that, and for a post that truly speaks in the voice of Advent.

    Like

  24. Bellezza, chocolate oranges are one of my Christmas memories too, and I'd forgotten it until I read your post. One year I got one for Christmas – a milk chocolate one – and I loved it so much that my mother made sure that I had one for every Christmas and birthday. The smell of it now always reminds me of holidays and celebrations.Oh, and your sister-in-law needs a slap. Next time I smack a chocolate orange I'm going to pretend I'm smacking HER.

    Like

  25. My heart just fell when I read your sister in law's comment – but it was lifted again by your lovely reminder to keep the joy in our lives, to "polish it up" and hold it close to our hearts. Wonderful advice…I'll try to keep it.

    Like

  26. I have to try these oranges one of those days. I think it's a wonderful tradition and you are right to keep it going if only to honor and remember your grandpa.

    Like

  27. What a great story. It reminds me of the traditions in my family and how important they are to me. Enjoy your chocolate orange and know that you are honouring an old tradition and make new ones that your borther and SIL can appreciate, like family dinners. 🙂

    Like

  28. Thank you for such a wonderful post & a great remindert I think it is very easy to get down, sad & lonely this time of year. I admit it happens to me often after years of family disappointments, illness and loved ones having passed away. And there are those painful, hopefully unintended, remarks that wound such as your SIL's regarding the orange you give your brother. I think it's a wonderful tradition and that's what the holidays are all about, lovely traditions shared with friends and family that reminded us of those we love who may no longer be with us, and also remind us of some wonderful times we've shared over the years with those we love. Some people may forget but we can still remember & smile about those memories :o)This is a wonderful beginning to this year's Christmas Season.~ Amy

    Like

  29. Terry's Chocolate Orange are big here in the UK, though maybe thats not true they used to be mega popular but then it all went a bit quite. At Christmas though I love these and I ave just seen the new pink one with popping candy in it… I am going to have to get it. You can also get a box of segments of lots of different chocolate oranges (dark, white, mint etc) not that I have been studying the chocolate section of the supermarket at all, cough!

    Like

  30. Good on you for taking that joy back. That's inspiring at a time of year so loaded with emotion and tradition, and I think it's brave of you to share that story, and to buy your chocolate orange. Thank you!

    Like

  31. I am one of the only people I know who enjoy those chocolate oranges (only the dark chocolate ones, though). Everyone around me looks at me like I am crazy. :)I think it's sad that your sister-in-law said that. Obviously it meant something to you and I don't know if you should have said that or not. I don't know what I would have done in that situation. I know I would have cried. I'm a big ol' baby sometimes about things that mean a lot to me. Good for you buying it for yourself now and remembering your Grampa.

    Like

  32. We love those chocolate oranges in our house, and they are a Christmas tradition with my husband and son now! I hope you enjoy eating your lovely dark chocolate orange and thinking of your grandfather. What a lovely story to share with us. And I completely agree with your sentiment that it's too easy to forget, or lose, the little things we share with one another, especially ones we love. I like the idea of keeping what we love in mind. Lovely way to begin the advent tour! thank you!

    Like

  33. Bellezza, I'm back to report that I found a gorgeous chocolate orange at Trader Joe's yesterday! My younger daughter whacked it against the table after dinner last night, and we enjoyed the perfectly "broken" segments. What an enticing treat! And we have more to enjoy after dinner tonight. I think this will become a holiday tradition in our family. I'm also planning on giving out some as gifts. : )

    Like

  34. I felt very sad and was wondering whether your brother knew what was said. Knowing why it was given surely it would have been kinder not to saysomething so crudely. Seems not quite nice.

    Like

  35. What a poignant post – sometimes the perfect parts of remembered joy are best savoured in rituals like your own enjoyment of those special chocolate oranges. My aunt always gave them to my sister and me, and they definitely carry a Christmas glow for me.

    Like

  36. Susan, I had no idea Trader Joe's carries them! We have one not a few blocks from our house, so I'll have to go check it out. Best of all, is that you and your family enjoy them. That makes me so happy!

    Like

  37. A beautiful, thought-full story, and one that I completely empathize with. I used to go nuts every December baking cookies and breads to give away to co-workers (both Mr. L-S's and mine)and family (specifically, his) & to serve with–frequently as–dessert at Christmas dinner. Like your grandfather's chocolate oranges, it was a family tradition. Gradually I stopped; the in-laws never ate them, didn't want them. Have not missed them. But I do. Buy that chocolate orange and savor every segment!Love the new look also.

    Like

  38. Loved your story, even though it was bittersweet like the Droste chocolates. We have them here in Denmark too, but they are not associated with Christmassy traditions for me. But other things which doesn't mean Christmas for others are associated with Christmas for me 🙂 I don't know your brother at all, but I have one myself (a brother), and he could have done the exact same thing, forgetting to eat the chocolate and not thinking twice about what it meant to me, the giving of the chocolates. But not out of an evil heart. Simply because he thinks in another way than I do. Not trying to excuse your brother though and the SIL's snide remark was uncalled for.A wonderful Christmas to you!

    Like

  39. People say the wrong thing sometimes. Chin up. It's okay. Not everybody loves the things we love. I'm sure she did not mean to be hurtful. Enjoy your chocolate oranges. You will find others who love them as much as you do.

    Like

  40. Wow. I would have cried at your sister-in-law's comment. My mom used to buy chocolate oranges for Dad and me and I loved them, but I have no idea why she stopped. I should start that one back up. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Like

  41. My measured, thoughtful response is to agree with other commenters who have said that perhaps your brother didn't understand the significance of your gift (or maybe he did and just didn't want to eat the orange all at once) and that clearly your SIL was not aware of the story behind it-she probably just thought you liked to give chocolate oranges for Christmas…but my immediate gut response is, "What a b*tch!" Why not just graciously accept the gift and give it to a child or a coworker who might like it or even continue to throw it away after months in the fridge-is it really inconveniencing her that much?? Good for you for keeping your cool and not saying something *you* might regret later. Honestly, I'm sure she probably didn't mean to hurt your feelings, and maybe if you sat down and discussed it with her, it might make you feel better. If not though, keep enjoying your oranges and the wonderful memory of your grandfather-you've got lots of readers who will smile at the thought of you and your grandfather when they crack open their chocolate oranges this Christmas!

    Like

  42. I admire your restraint because your recounting the story had me almost crying! As Simon mentioned, Terry's Chocolate Oranges are huge here in the UK at Christmas and very much a tradition in my family.I love your new festive background :).

    Like

  43. You know, I think you shared one of those with me back in and I think it was my first. Now, yes, they're everywhere, but thanks for the story about how special those are and why.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s