The only fundraiser that I have truly enjoyed was selling Christmas wreaths as a member of the Denison High School band. Inhaling the heady, pungent evergreen scent as I helped unload the delivery truck, and delivering the wreaths to calls of “Merry Christmas!” was fun work. One year, in response to my knock at an unfamiliar house, a woman called through the open door for me to come in. I wasn’t in the habit of entering homes to solicit sales, and I proceeded with my “support the band speech” from the porch. She replied that she was crippled, and reiterated that I needed to come inside.
As I approached the friendly woman seated in a recliner, she informed me that she always bought a wreath from the band. I documented her order, and then watched with interest as she deftly picked picked up what looked like stubby nails and poked them into an orange. Although I was familiar with ground cloves that Mom cooked with, I had never imagined whole cloves to resemble miniature nails. I admired the pomanders and their spicy smell so much that all of my spare time for weeks was devoted to poking whole cloves into oranges. By Christmas eve, I had a very, very sore thumb, and a sack full of tissue-wrapped pomander balls to give as gifts.
Making orange pomanders in November and December is a tradition that I have passed on to my children, Sunday School students, and many preschoolers. Andrew even made and sold them door to door in our neighborhood. I solidly stud the oranges with cloves like my mentor showed me, instead of arranging the cloves in a pattern as some do. I also adopted the use of a nail to pierce the orange skin to save my thumb. When the orange is completely covered in cloves, I leave it in a paper bag for several weeks to allow it to shrink. Then it’s ready to be decorated with ribbon or yarn.
Mom made repeat trips to the grocery store around Christmas time to replenish my supply of whole cloves. I still marvel at where she got the extra money to buy them because they are expensive. Mark purchased my current supply of cloves from The Spice Man in Indonesia.