Christmas growing up - it seemed to last far longer than the 25 days of December. And the season really did to seem different than any other time of the year. I do not know that I can point to a time when it started (other than I really do not think that it was the day after Thanksgiving), but it did "start". And maintain all the way to Christmas Day.
Now, I have almost completely lost that sense.
The Christmas Season, for many years now at least, is really subsumed into the end of the year and all that has to be done (mostly at work) to get there. Work has become the all consuming force of the season, intensified by the fact that all things that must get done in the year must get done by then - oddly enough, no matter how well you plan or schedule, it always seems to come down to the end.
Yes, it might be acknowledged and yes, some things might be done - a party perhaps, or a luncheon - but the need to finish things out is what really dominates one's calendar and the landscape. Any sense of the Season is bucketed to the last two or three days before Christmas.
Just once - just one more time - I would like to have an actual sense of Christmas again, to be able to enjoy all of the songs, the decorations, the traditions - the "Christmas Spirit" that we sing about often but I seem to experience not at all.
Charles Dickens said that the reformed Scrooge kept Christmas every day in his heart. I wish I knew his secret.