The Christmas season takes added celebrations and sweets when there’s merry birthdays in the mix. This article is written to honor all those merry birthdays out there whose personal birthdays are overshadowed by the overwhelming merriment of the holiday season.
We have merry birthdays in our family. There seem to be a lot of merry birthdays — my family alone has four. Does the stress of the holidays send women into labor? In any case, I wanted to share the perspective of those born in the midst of the holidays, and what I found was mixed emotions.
For my brother, a merry birthday was mostly the pits. Christmas Eve was always “Mike’s birthday dinner night,” but he maintains that having a birthday on Christmas Eve is the probably the worst, especially for teenagers. “I always had to be home to go to midnight mass on my birthday — no other kid had to come home from hanging out with your friends to go to church on your birthday,” he says.
I remember it a little differently. Because he had a merry birthday, we were always required to be there, and since we had to be there, he got gifts. This was not the case for the rest of us kids. Birthdays weren’t a huge deal in our family, and siblings gifts often forgotten. Not so for the merry birthday boy — who could forget his birthday? I maintain he got more presents, because it was so close Christmas, albeit the occasion “birthday/Christmas” gift was quite common.
One friend of mine with a merry birthday on Dec. 18 lamented that the birthday/Christmas gift is a bit of a letdown. “You’d never give someone a birthday gift in August, wrap it in Christmas paper, and say here’s a birthday/Christmas present.” Growing up with a merry birthday also meant birthday photos that always had a holiday backdrop and looked like Christmas card. Then 13 years ago, her son was born — on her birthday. So much for her own day now, competing with her own son and the son of God — her day’s pretty much overshadowed at this point.
Merry birthdays also contend for time for their own celebrations. They compete with work parties, concerts, ballets, gift drives — “people are always so busy, it’s hard to get them to come to another party.” On the upshot, family is often in from out of town, so you might get a few extra relatives who normally wouldn’t travel to see you on your birthday.
For Jackie Thompson of Twisp, who has four merry birthdays in four days in her family, separating the birthday from the holiday is critical. First, Jackie’s sister is Dec. 16 along with her first-born Aksel. Her son Bodie is Dec. 18, and she’s on Dec. 19. Since her childhood, her family tried to segregate the holiday from the birthdays. That meant little things like no Christmas wrapping paper on birthday gifts.
As a merry birth mom, I have found it easy inspiration for endless wintery party themes and activities, integrating the two celebrations as opposed to separating them. Cookie decorating, snowman cakes, sledding, ice skating, gingerbread house building, ornaments as party gifts, candy canes as treats. For my son, he enjoys riding the wave of the jubilees. “Once my birthday is over, then I get to look forward to Christmas, other kids have to wait a long time,” he says. “But for me it’s exciting to have them close together.”