Okay, it might not be all that shocking, but those of us who have birthdays around Christmastime have a mixed bag of blessings and curses. First, the blessings:
- People are generally in a festive—and giving—mood, which can translate into heartfelt birthday wishes, fun parties and overly extravagant birthday presents.
- If you’re lucky, you can score double gifts.
So much for the blessings. Now, the curses:
- It’s the busiest time of year for most folks, so remembering—let alone celebrating—your birthday often gets lost in the holiday hubbub. If your birthday is in the 2 weeks prior to Christmas, they’re too busy to celebrate. If it falls 2 weeks after, they’re too worn out to celebrate. If it falls on Christmas, everyone’s got somewhere else to be.
- If you’re unlucky, you’ll get the nefarious “Two-Fer”: a single gift for both Christmas and your birthday.
- Growing up, you’re not in school on your birthday, so you never get a school birthday party. (If you hate parties, this can be listed under “Blessings”.
- You rarely get out of season gifts if you live in the Northern climes: a bike, a skateboard, a baseball glove. You get warm socks, a sled and mittens knitted by Grandma.
- Instead of a birthday cake, you get Christmas cookies and fruitcake.
- If people do want to throw you a party, it’s unlikely to fall on your birthday. It may be delayed well into January.
Having had 57 birthdays on Christmas (yes, it falls on Christmas day again this year), I have examined this phenomenon in some detail. My parents went out of their way to separate Christmas from my birthday: we opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, and celebrated my birthday on Christmas Day.
When people find out that my birthday is Christmas, they always ask the same question: “Did you get hosed on gifts?” Though the vernacular might differ, the underlying belief that Christmastime Birthdays = Less Gifts is widespread. It wasn’t true for me (at least, not in terms of sheer numbers), but I know others that have had a different experience.
In the true spirit of the season, allow me to pass along a few friendly suggestions:
- Prospective parents: To avoid any and all Christmastime confusion, resist the urge to conceive between Valentine’s Day and the end of April. You’ll thank me someday.
- Friends & Family of Christmastime Kids: If birthdays are a big deal for you (and them), make the same effort that you would if they were born in July. I know of families who celebrate 1/2 Birthdays: one on the actual birthdate, and one 6 months apart.
- Christmastime Kids: If you want cake, celebration and presents, let people know. Birthdays are no time for reticence. Put it out there. You’ll either get what you want or learn a valuable lesson about your “friends.”
- Gift-giving: If you generally give Christmas and birthday gifts, don’t change your routine for us. Better to give 2 gifts of lesser expense than one “Two-Fer”. It’s just wrong. You know it in your heart. Unless, of course, you want the same treatment: “Here’s your Christmas gift. It’s also your birthday gift, so don’t be disappointed when May rolls around.”
In the end, it really all comes down to whether or not you think birthdays are important and should be celebrated. I do, and not just mine. In fact, for the most part, I enjoy other people’s birthdays more than my own. Their birthdays are a recognition that I honor the day they entered the world. Mine is more a recognition that another year has passed and I’m still not Emperor of the World.
So, to everyone, Happy Holidays! And to Mary Rae, Rob, Charlie, Holly, Jill and Eric: Happy Birthday!
Humphrey Bogart, Dido, Conrad Hilton, Sissy Spacek, Anwar Sadat, Annie Lennox and Sir Isaac Newton were all born on Christmas Day.