Last week I took out our box of Christmas books from the attic and the boys and I started exploring them. With wide-eyed excitement, Calvin flipped through Dream Snow… Richard Scarry’s The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, The Friendly Beasts, and my personal favorite, Julie Vivas’ The Nativity. Each time we took a different book out of the box, Calvin’s face lit up like the books were brand new. He drank them all in, eagerly exploring the covers and pages. I helped Henry flip through Christmas Peekaboo and both boys shrieked with laughter every time a new hidden toy was revealed. Each book was like a brand new gift. It was like, well, Christmas!
He was especially attached to the Dinosaur’s Night Before Christmas (#duh), and I was like “Yeah, don’t you remember this book from last year??” But he didn’t! I think we actually got that book two years ago in 2014, but to him it was like it was totally brand new. And I just got this deja vu feeling like – wait, haven’t we done this exact thing before? Twice?
And then there was the brightly-lit, over-the-top, Griswold-worthy decorated house across the street from our school. One day last week Calvin and I stayed so late that it was dark when we left and the house across the street was shining in all its twinkle-lit glory with glowing inflatable Frosty, Rudolph and Snoopy grinning at us from the lawn. And Calvin said, “Look Mama! What that?!?” And it was like he’d never seen a house with Christmas lights before! So I explained it to him and I asked him if he remembered anything like this from last year, but he was too dazzled by the one he was looking at to really listen.
It’s not that I don’t get it. At his age, he is just beginning to hold on to long-term memories. So I shouldn’t be surprised that he doesn’t remember things from a year ago. But I guess I was kind of expecting him to remember more this year now that he’s going on 5. He does remember Santa and Christmas trees, and he knows about baby Jesus and the winter solstice… and it makes sense that the things he remembers are the ones that we talked about at other times of the year. Still, this Christmas amnesia thing has been a really fun and funny experience for me because, yet again! just like last year and the year before, so many things about the holiday season are totally fresh and new for him and it’s like he’s experiencing them for the first time!
In past years, as a stay at home parent, I always did it up big for the month of December: filling our days with cookie decorating and Christmas crafts and the Christmas season music channel. This year, as a working mom, I won’t have time to do as much of those things and I’m easing into as laid-back a holiday season as possible. So I’m kind of tickled about these little joyful moments. And I’m excited to realize that it will be a really special holiday season even without a Christmas countdown calendar full of festive to-do’s, because all our little holiday experiences still feel so new and full of wonderment to Calvin and Henry. And even though they don’t remember much from Christmases past, they are a little older and a little more aware and able to experience things in new and exciting ways.
Am I the only one marvelling at this toddler Christmas amnesia phenomenon? Anybody else? When did your kids start remembering and expecting Christmas?