I’m part of a club. A club I’d rather not be a part of. But a club nonetheless. I had no idea how many of my friends in my extended social circle also are part of this club until I was looking at the “Upcoming Events” section of my Facebook page. Even when I meet people on the street, this club gains me instant sympathy and nodding heads. I’m part of the December birthday club. And I don’t like it one bit.
Naturally, I blame my parents.
But in defense of my parents, (they didn’t plan it this way) they always did a really good job of making my birthday special. I got a party every year (not like the extravagant parties that are common today, but a cake and some girls for a sleepover), and they never really gave me a combination gift (I can’t even think of one right now).
In fact, I don’t think my contempt for my December birthday started until I got older. Maybe a teenager, or a college student? I don’t know exactly when.
Here’s the thing. I love Christmas. LOVE it.
I love listening to Christmas music while doing pretty much anything holiday-related. I love picking out the tree and decorating it. I love wrapping gifts. I love watching my favorite Christmas movies by the glow of the tree. I love baking lots and lots of cookies and other goodies. I love the magic of the season and the spirit of generosity. And I especially love the extra emphasis on spending time with family and loved ones.
Both Husband and I are pretty big Christmasers. While we’re not super psycho crazies, we both have big expectations for Christmas.
I’m also a big believer in birthdays. I think birthdays should be celebrated for a minimum of a weekend, and I prefer to celebrate them for a whole week. I think birthday people should be given lots of extra attention and be made to feel super special. There always should be cake, a card and a gift, and extra points for balloons or flowers if you’re over 16. Birthdays are a big deal to me and I make them a big deal for my loved ones.
I guess the reason I started disliking my December birthday when I got older (as opposed to when I was a kid) was because other people didn’t “respect” the birthday as much as my parents did. They didn’t make it as special (and I don’t mean my dear husband; he has always been excellent at making me feel extra special on my birthday).
I’m not exactly sure why this happens. I can’t really think of a good reason why people think it’s okay to combine birthdays with Christmas when, as my cousin J said, “Everyone with a birthday in spring, summer or fall doesn’t have to ‘share’ the day they were born with a holiday. I don’t know why it should be any different at Christmas.”
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think anyone was ever trying to purposely be rude. I mean, after all, these are people who love me and are giving me gifts. Maybe it’s because Christmas just becomes so ubiquitous that they’re not thinking when they give me a pine and red berry flower arrangement for my birthday? I get it. It’s seasonal. But it’s my effing birthday! Where is the pink and the purple!?
And don’t even get me started on wrapping my birthday present in Christmas paper. If you want to see my head spin around and pop off, just try giving me my birthday gift in Christmas wrapping paper. Why, why, why!?? It’s too much trouble to go out and get birthday wrapping paper so you’ll just use this Christmas paper you have lying around? At no other time of year would this be acceptable.
You have no idea how tempted I have been to wrap other people’s birthday presents in Christmas paper in May, August, whatever. Just to prove a point.
IT IS MY BIRTH-DAY. THERE SHOULD BE NO RED OR GREEN OR HOLLY OR SANTA.
I may give you a pass on a snowman. Maybe.
My poor brother-in-law. He is awesome and so great and I love him dearly. He has experienced firsthand my hatred of the Christmas paper for birthday gifts.
I don’t know why, but for whatever reason we went through a period where he kept wrapping my d@mn birthday gifts in Christmas paper! And this was after celebrating many birthdays with him!
The first time it happened I gave him a lot of crap. So then the next year, before my birthday, Husband reminded him “NO CHRISTMAS PAPER.”
So that next year, he wrapped my birthday gift in (drum roll please) … silver paper.
And while he protested heartily that “IT WAS SILVER,” clearly it was Christmas paper. And that would have been okay except that he used a CHRISTMAS GIFT TAG to address the gift to me (we were at an extended family Christmas gathering where lots of gifts were being exchanged).
When I pointed this out he looked at me with a genuinely confused look on his face and said, “Well how else were you supposed to know that it was for you and not someone else?”
I gave him a hard look back and said, “How about a birthday card.”
His eyes got really big. “Oh. That’s right. I forgot about cards.”
And that, my friends, is what happens to gift givers around Christmastime. All common sense goes out the window.
And while this is a tongue in cheek example, it really is disheartening when you want your birthday to be a day all about you and you’re constantly being reminded of CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS — and as I said before, I do LOVE Christmas — but it’s my one and only special day!
The next year he gave me my gift in birthday paper. With a card.
Honestly, I think the biggest reason I don’t enjoy a Christmas birthday now that I’m older is due to time. There’s just not enough of it this time of year.
Husband’s extended family has now firmly established the weekend closest to my birthday as the weekend of the family’s annual holiday gathering. It also happens to be the same weekend that my parents do their annual Christmas party. So inevitably, I don’t get a weekend to celebrate my birthday with my family and friends the way I want to. Instead we (and all of our family members) are running around all over the place celebrating Christmas.
And now that I’m an adult with a family of my own, and want to do the Christmasy things like baking, shopping, wrapping, Christmas card sending, etc. — things I genuinely want to do — it just leaves little birthday time.
Of course I’ve always been bummed that I couldn’t do fun outdoor activities like have a pool party for my birthday, but to be fair that’s not exclusive to December. My cousin L’s birthday is in March and for the last 20 out of 25 birthdays it’s been cold, gloomy and rainy. So there’s really no exclusivity when it comes to crappy weather. I mean, I guess rain generally doesn’t cause event cancellations, but you get my drift.
So yeah. The general consensus after polling my Facebook friends is that December birthdays (and even early January birthdays) kinda suck. Most of us have differing reasons for why we don’t like it (although combination gifts was a big complaint) the bottom line is we feel kinda cheated.
I will say that having only known a Christmastime birthday, I do like how the trees and lights and Christmas music remind me that my birthday is coming soon.
I’m thinking I might start a tradition of celebrating my semi-half birthday with my husband whose birthday is in July …
P.S. I will say that I think parents tend to be more sensitive to making their December birthday kid feel special, and they have the kid’s whole lifetime to remember to do that. Whereas other (non-December birthday) people (like my brother-in-law) are just unaware. So again, I’m not calling anyone out, I think they’re just not aware of the sensitivity because they haven’t had to be.
What about you? Do you have a December birthday? Do you hate it or do you love it? Alternatively, is your birthday around another holiday where you have to “share” celebration time with holiday time?