Per·fume [pərˌfyo͞om] · a fragrant liquid typically made from essential oils extracted from flowers and spices, used to impart a pleasant smell to one's body or clothes.
Day [dā/] · a period of twenty-four hours as a unit of time; a particular period of the past; an era.
Per·fume Day [pərˌfyo͞om · dā/] · one of Michelle’s favorite days of the year, when her dad extravagantly spoils her by investing in the perfume of her choice, all with the goal of creating:
1: a forever memory
2: a wonderful sensory experience that that lingers throughout the year while serving as a reminder of her dad’s love for her every time she wears it.
I imagine by now that the majority of you have heard me talk about my annual adventure with my dad that we affectionately call “Perfume Day.” If you haven’t read about it in my book or on my December 2014 blog, it's here: Perfume Day: The Tradition Continues; it also includes some hilarious pictures from yesteryear (as documented by some lovely hairstyles along the way)!
My dad, to give you more context, had absolutely no template of how to be a father. His dad wasn’t present much in his life, and when his father was home he was often in a drunken stupor coupled with unbridled anger. When my dad was a young adult, his father--who'd been living for years in an empty railroad boxcar (how he came to live at the rail yard is a story unto itself), homeless and alone--died from the devastating effects of alcoholism. Years later, when my dad was in his late 30’s, he attended a conference where the men were given a challenge. In his own words my dad says, “We men were asked to think about ways we could be special to our kids, and since I had daughters I thought that perfume might be a good thing.”
And with that, Perfume Day was born.
This year I thought I’d approach the topic of creating a lasting memory with your daughter, from a new angle.
First, did you know that some experts say that our sense of smell is the strongest of our five senses? Not only that, but olfactory nerves activate the primitive part of our brain that stays in our long-term memory and corresponds to motivation and emotion. This intricate wiring in our noses means that a certain scent can activate a powerful memory because it often outlasts other memories that are carried by our other four senses.
Dad Translation: By creating an experience with your daughter now that revolves around choosing her favorite perfume, you are giving her a sensory memory that will last a lifetime. The perfume itself will provide a tangible reminder of your love for her because of the way that actual scent will be attached to her memory networks for the rest of her life. From this day forward, every time she smells that scent, it will remind her of you.
Talk about a deposit with dividends that exceed the investment!
Second, this idea of perfume being a memory that can last a lifetime is rooted in history, going back a lot farther than my dad (who has been doing this at Christmas with me for 24 years now!).
Whether or not you’re a Bible reader, I’m hopeful that you’ll find this story relevant in light of this theme.
Just before Jesus’ death, his friend Mary poured expensive perfume on his feet, an action that was met with ridicule by some of the men who watched it happen. One in particular noted that it was a waste since the money could have been given to the poor.
Jesus came to Mary’s defense and told them to “leave her alone” while highlighting that she actually was preparing him for his upcoming burial. He told them that the poor would always be with them, but He wouldn’t. Mary seemed to understand something deeper than those around her and she communicated with her actions that the One she loved was worth this kind of costly investment.
I guess you could say that “Perfume Day” had its beginning between a woman and her Savior.
Author Ken Gire says it this way:
"We all grow up and grow out of our childlike enthusiasms. But maybe something of the little girl in Mary never did. And maybe one of the reasons she meant so much to Jesus is because sitting at his feet and anointing Him with perfume came as naturally as children throwing their arms around their daddy’s legs and showering Him with hugs and kisses."
Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that He had previously invested well in her.
Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that she enthusiastically responded back to Him out of a relational overflow.
Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that expressions of extravagant love involving perfume are something that God finds noteworthy of being recorded in His history book.
Dad, I hope you will take steps this year to make Perfume Day a new tradition with your daughter. And if you’re like some of the men I’ve spoken with who say that their daughter “isn’t into perfume,” perhaps you’ll create a different kind of forever memory by together making a plate or bowl at a “Make-Your-Own-Pottery” store. (I realize that her sense of smell won’t necessarily be activated, but it’s still a great alternative as she’ll have that piece for the rest of her life as a reminder of you).
I wish each of you the best ending to 2015 and look forward to staying connected in 2016 as I continue bringing practical action tools that you can add your fathering toolbox.
But before I go, here’s a photo from Perfume Day last year, and a little to my own father:
"Thanks, Dad, for creating forever memories with me and letting me know I’m worth your investment.
Love you, Michelle"
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