It’s starting.

My first hint was when we received in the mail a thick, glossy Christmas toy catalog — not from JCPenney or Sears, but from Amazon.

I was a little surprised that a retailer known for its online sales would send out a physical catalog, but it soon became clear what an effective sales tool it was.

My son Logan is almost 3, and when he saw the “toy book” he immediately started paging through it and repeating like a broken record, “I want that. I want that.”

It was cute to see him get excited about Christmas, but also kind of scary to see the rapid effect of advertising and materialism on a toddler.

It’s becoming clear that this will be the first Christmas that Logan will really understand what’s going on, which is a lot of fun.

Last year he could name Santa Claus, but this year he seems to understand how Santa works, which I’m taking advantage of as a tool to get him to behave.

He now sees lights and wreaths and ornaments and registers those as holiday decorations. Every single time he says, “It’s Christmas!” And when I confirm that, he follows up with, “Yippee!”

He’s excited to get people presents, but he thinks everyone wants toy trucks like he does. Also, I’ve already learned the hard way that if I take him shopping and tell him whose present I’m buying, he’ll immediately spoil the surprise. But he’s excited to be part of it, so that’s something.

I’m looking forward to baking Christmas cookies with the little guy, who is a very good helper in the kitchen. He can usually stir and pour things without spilling, and he likes to run back and forth to check on what’s in the oven as it bakes.

And he’ll be excited this year to watch an animated special on Netflix called “Angela’s Christmas,” based on a children’s book by Frank McCourt. It’s based on a true story of his mother, who, as a child in Ireland, once stole the baby Jesus from the nativity in the Catholic Church because he looked cold. Last Christmas he watched it — I wish I were exaggerating — hundreds of times.

Though I’ve now seen it enough to have it memorized, it’s a touching show, and I recommend it to anyone, not just children.

Despite all those great non-material things involved in the holiday season, I think it will be hard to keep Logan’s focus off of the toys and presents. Ever since the Amazon catalog arrived, he’s been relentless talking about which toy Santa will bring him. At our house, Santa tends to bring one big present for each kid.

“Santa will bring me a monster truck?”

“Maybe.”

“Uh-huh. And he will bring me a train?”

“Well maybe, but you have to decide what you want the most.”

“A train. And a monster truck.”

We’ve looked at pictures and videos of each toy online, a practice that quickly spun out of control, because Logan wanted to shop for toys more than, say, read a bedtime story. And my interest in the minute differences between plastic construction vehicles only goes so far.

So we’ve stopped doing that, and we’re trying to focus a bit more on the giving aspect of Christmas. Still it’s so much fun to experience Christmas with a child. The wonder and the joy he has is infectious, and already it’s making the holidays feel more magical for me, too.

Recommended for you