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  • Writer's picturePatty Hopker

What Exactly is the “Magic” of the Holiday Season?

Did you ever wonder why the holiday season is so special to so many people? Why do they call it the magical time of the year? With all the stress of shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing meals, being alone or isolated, or traveling during the worst weather conditions, many people are still happy. They look forward to this festive season every year.

As I was walking in the mall last week, I felt a peace that I had not felt in a while. It radiated from my chest as I put in my daily steps. After my walk, I knew I needed to come back to this place. I felt so good afterward, and my energy abounded. I knew my exercise endorphins had kicked in, but I walk year-round. This feeling was unique, and one I had not felt in a while.

I had a theory as to why, so I did a little research to see if there were any studies associated with this phenomenon, and sure enough, there has been! The one key element that is everywhere you go during this time of year is Christmas and holiday music. These familiar tunes fill the sound space of every store, elevator, and radio station.

Music crosses all generations, is shared with friends and family. Holiday music is a dominating curriculum in schools and churches. The words and messages have not changed but only transformed through a drum’s beat, the acoustical triangle ring, or a piano chord. Memories of our childhood, special people in our lives, expressions of our children’s delight temporarily fill any void that had been weighing us down throughout the year. These memories are all brought to the surface by the consistent, familiar tunes of the season.

The year 2020 was not much fun. It has left us with so much loss that unrest, depression, and drug use has escalated at rates never seen in our country before. We need to get to a place of peace in our hearts, and perhaps music can help get us there during this year’s end season.

Studies of the effects of music on senior-aged people show that those who engage in music have lower anxiety and depression levels. Not only does music facilitate social interaction, but stronger social bonds by singing and creating music together. Music helps heal. In stroke rehabilitation, with brain injuries and diseases, tunes have shown success in easing the symptoms. Speech therapy and improved movement are accentuated through the rhythmic nature--sometimes with immediate improvements.

So this Holiday Season, turn up the music. Dance, sing, and share the movements with family and friends, even if it may be on video. Listen to the familiar tune that comforts you with positive memories. Play an instrument, or just go for a walk as I did, to step to the intimately known rhythms. Allow yourself to put this year behind you and revive the warmth of what this holiday season means to you.

May you experience the yuletide, lighting a candle, silver bells ringing, joy in the world, and the gift of music in your heart. Happy Holidays everyone!

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