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Christmas joy – or melancholy – can be sparked by our senses

When it comes to the holidays, there’s no shortage of sensory memory, which is defined as “the perception of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch information entering through the sensory cortices of the brain and relaying through the thalamus.”

More specifically, it means that something as simple as the smell of pine needles or the taste of a sugar cookie can instantly create strong feelings – positive or otherwise – related to the holiday season.

While many of us will associate the sound of a familiar Christmas Carol or the feeling of a bite of pumpkin pie on our tongue in a positive way, that’s not true for everyone. For people who have experienced trauma or loss around the holidays, very strong emotions can emerge based on sensory memory.

Whatever the emotion, holiday feelings are something we should all be able to talk about. At Topeka Presbyterian Manor, we encourage our residents not to just celebrate the holidays in the way they see fit, but to also experience the holidays in a natural way. That might be an extra dose of joy for one resident and the need to talk through some sadness for another. Whatever the case, we’re here to lend a holiday helping hand in whatever way we can.

Marketing Director Danica Loftin shared that she recently learned that a loved one didn’t always enjoy the holidays, which helped to deepen her perspective.

“It really made me think about the holidays and how people feel,” she said.

However you feel this time of year, we hope Topeka Presbyterian Manor continues to be a source of joy and comfort during this and all holiday seasons!

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