The task of putting up Christmas decorations is no small feat. It usually involves ladders, tangled lights, and sticky fingers from the sap of a fresh cut tree. And let’s not even talk about taking it all down. So why do we do it? Science says because it makes us happy. According to Psychologist Deborah Serani, decorating for Christmas creates a “neurological shift that creates happiness…Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel good hormone.”
But what is it specifically about Christmas decorations that make us feel happy? It could just be the bright lights and color, according to Serani, but it could also be the nostalgia factor. For so many of us, Christmas is a magical time of joy and innocence.
Whatever the reason, we saw this science at work firsthand at Woodstone when we decorated for the holidays last week. Not only were we reminded of old memories, but new memories were made as well. As the residents helped staff decorate Christmas trees, I heard lots of laughter and joking. Jokes about who put the most ornaments on the tree, laughing at me as I almost fell putting the star on top, and joking about checking every little light on a strand of unlit lights.
In fact, later that night as I walked through the dining area, I overheard a table of residents laughing about what had happened earlier that day during the decorating. In that moment I knew all the time and energy it took to decorate for the holidays was worth it. We had made new memories. And whatever the science behind it, I knew one thing for sure. I was happy.