This article was originally published in USA Today.

There’s a special magic in the air during the holiday season that, for lack of better words, hurts so good. When the pine tree sales spring up around town and holiday-themed commercials air on TV, a wistful longing for the memories of Christmases past pools in the pit of my stomach in a weird warm and fuzzy yet unnerving kind of way. 

Ask any psychologist, and they’ll call it nostalgia. I call it confusion. 

Nostalgia has always been an ambivalent emotional experience, so much so that it used to be considered a disease of the brain or mind. It’s why whenever I reminisce about playing with Tamagotchis with my cousin on Noche Buena or opening presents on Christmas morning, I feel a tinge of sadness followed by a fondness for the moments that made holidays so special as a kid.