What Would Christmas Be Without A Tangerine?

Is there one thing, a single item, that is inexorably linked in your mind with Christmas?

There is in mine. Each year during the first or second week of December, I find myself beginning to think about tangerines and navel oranges.

The root cause of this culinary anomaly can be attributed to my grandfather. He was a man of tradition, as well as a great lover of the Christmas season and all that it entailed.

Looking back on my youth, I think he was always at his happiest during the weeks leading up to Christmas and especially on Christmas day itself. I’m confident that he enjoyed playing with our presents as much as my brother and I did.
Granddad thoroughly delighted in everything associated with Christmas from playing Santa Claus, to hiding presents, to surprising his two grandsons with that one gift that each of them most yearned for, and to ensuring that every Christmas our kitchen was stocked with a large box of fresh Florida tangerines and navel oranges.

There was never any fanfare or explanation as to why the citrus turned up each Christmas, it just happened; and with clockwork regularity.

I suppose my grandfather must have been a closet tangerine/navel orange junkie who just wanted to make sure that he had a ready supply available in the event that he was overcome with the urge to ingest a little vitamin C.

Whatever the explanation, to this day I associate Christmas with those two fruits and can’t imagine a Christmas without them.
Over the years, my personal preference has shifted to navel oranges, mainly due to their lack of seeds and the ease with which they can be eaten. I suppose that I’m a bit of a neat-freak. But let me stumble across a tangerine and immediately I think of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and manger scenes; as well as my grandfather.

If you don’t mind, I think I’ll run downstairs and peel myself an orange right now! I could use an additional dose of that ol’ time Christmas spirit! This one’s for you Granddad!