First Christmas Memories

First Christmas Memories

Why make a big deal about your baby’s first Christmas?  After all, as discussed in earlier blogs, memory is a complex process involving skills that take several years to develop, so your infant will not be able to recall anything specific from that day.  Well, it’s nice to know that although she won’t be able to remember in the conventional sense, everything will have a lasting impact nonetheless.

I hesitate to compare your infant to a canine, but this is similar to good ol’ Pavlov and his dogs.  Dogs naturally drool when presented with a piece of meat.  Pavlov demonstrated that you could associate something with the presentation of meat, like the ringing of a bell, and after that, the dogs would drool when they heard a bell ring, even if there was no meat around.  And this process applies to humans as well.  Let’s say you’re driving home at night.  You glance in the rearview mirror and see a flashing blue light.  What happens to you?  That’s right, even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you go into total freak-out mode.

Well, during her first Christmas day, your baby will derive an enormous amount of pleasure from an abundance of hugs and kisses, special attention, delicious food, delightful music, and fun activities like ripping up wrapping paper.  And years in the future, while she will not be able to tell you exactly what happened, the sights and sounds of the holiday will immediately trigger feelings of warmth and excitement that may be non-specific but will be immensely pleasurable nonetheless.

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project.  He may be contacted via e-mail at