What are your favorite holiday memories? Does a certain Christmas carol send you back to your parents’ living room, eyeing presents under the tree? Does a dreidel in your hand take you back to the childhood pleasure of games with family and friends? Is it the taste of homemade pumpkin pie? Or is it the pastiche of warm feelings from years of family gatherings?
Nostalgia gets a bad rap. It’s often dismissed as an escape into the past or a species of infirmity (the term dates to 1688, when a Swiss physician coined it for what he saw as a physical disease). Modern science tells a very different story, however: We now know that nostalgia is a restorative and even motivational resource.
In fact, the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season may be sowing the seeds of future nostalgia.