Put the jingle back in Christmas season

By Emma Weidmann | Arts and Life Editor

Maybe it happened the moment I stopped believing in Santa Claus, or maybe I was just that age.

Whatever it was, I remember when Christmas stopped feeling like Christmas. Yeah, there were lights on the trees, and there was holiday music in every store at the mall, but the season had lost its shine.

Compared to those days as a fourth-grader when all I wanted was an American Girl doll that looked like me and good hot chocolate at the last-day-of-school party, there was something lackluster about Christmas as a teenager.

I think that might be the case for a lot of us, and at the risk of sounding like the train conductor from “The Polar Express,” maybe it’s time we tried remembering what it was we loved about Christmas in the first place.

Think about it. As a kid, Christmas had a shroud of mystery all over it, and there was anticipation that topped even the birthday butterflies. All season long, you felt the novelty of it mixed with the knowledge that it would end. That was a weird feeling: waiting so impatiently for the day to come and knowing that when it did, that was it. Even so, it was really magical.

As a kid, the whole season was spent dreaming of that one gift you had your heart set on. It wasn’t even kiddo consumerism. It was just the dream of something new and shiny, delivered to you by something mystical — so mystical, in fact, that seeing it with your own eyes would prevent it from happening. I could never sleep on Christmas Eve. The pure notion that when I woke up, the living room would take on an all-new look with presents under the tree, music playing and “A Christmas Story” on the TV was too much to take.

But then you grew up, and suddenly the most exciting thing about Christmas was that finals were over and you got a break from schoolwork to do nothing but sit on your phone all day. Too old for toys, the most you hoped for was maybe some new shoes or a new iPhone if you were really lucky.

Something had changed. Putting up lights was more stressful than exciting because now you were capable and tall enough to help wrap them around the tree in the front yard, but they never looked right.

I’m trying to get that old magical feeling back. For me, I think it comes down to purposefully living my life like it’s a Hallmark movie. Walk the Christmas markets, grab a hot chocolate and do some shopping. Listen to Michael Bublé whenever you feel like it. Force your friends to take a drive and look at Christmas lights in fancy neighborhoods. Go all out on decorating and wrap presents like you work at a dang Macy’s. Bake the cookies. Watch “Elf” — and watch it again.

This year, do everything you can to make it feel special again, and like Taylor Swift said, leave the Christmas lights up until January.