December Birthday Diatribe


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. 😉

Here's me - nine days old on my first Christmas. It's a girl. In case you were wondering.

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.

We loooove Christmas in this house.

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!?

What not to get someone for their birthday.

This is a "passable" flower arrangement for a December birthday. It's got ornaments, but at least it's not red and green.

THESE are birthday flowers.

Extra points for creativity.

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.

This is not birthday wrapping paper!!

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.


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).

Nope. Definitely don't put this on a birthday gift.

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.

Balloons, stars, cake ... good. If it says HAPPY BIRTHDAY, even better!

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.

Celebrating my birthday last year. Note the Christmas tree at the restaurant.

2010 birthday cake!

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 …

Barbecue anyone?

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?


21 responses »

    • Ahahahahahahahahahaha. OMG. I figured people would give me birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper just for spite because they like to get a rise out of me. PLEASE don’t do that! But the opposite would be really funny!

  1. Sometimes I still wish Shelby’s birthday wasn’t in December/so close to Christmas. But as she gets older, I’ll just remind her that it’s all her fault….I mean her due date was 11/30; she was just so darn stubborn she had to wait 2 more weeks to be born. Ha Ha!!!! Anyway, I do feel like we try to make her birthday special…..but I am bummed that she can’t do fun outdoor parties, especially since we have a swimming pool in our own yard (on the other hand, it did snow on the day of Syd’s first birthday party and that was on 4/16; you just can’t win in WI). Also, I always feel like I’m so focused on planning her birthday party during the first half of December. Then it’s over and I only have 2 weeks to cram in all of the Christmas stuff I have left to do. It really is kind of a bummer 😦 Plus, she has to wait so long to get gifts….and as a young kid, your interests, intelligence, needs change soooo much in a year. So I really probably do go kind of overboard for other holidays during the year, buying her gifts for Halloween, Valentine’s, Easter, etc. Tony and I always talk about getting her a “bigger” gift in the spring/summer since she already gets so much from our family for her birthday and then all her Christmas gifts two weeks later. But I’m not sure how she will feel about that when she’s older.

    • Hahaha. That’s right! Holy cow! Same thing with me, actually. I was over two weeks late. Whoops! I guess I better call my mom and tell her that I’m sorry for blaming her!

      As far as gifts during the other parts of the year, I think that could be really cool! You can always leave it up to her. She might really like it.

  2. Jason absolutely hates that his bday is on the 23rd. He agrees that the “Happy Christmas Birthday” combined presents are the worst. I’m a bit bummed that Boston’s bday is Jan. 8th, I think that is still really close to Christmas. And I agree with April that he gets a ton of Christmas gifts, and then a ton of birthday gifts 2 weeks later, and then nothing for the rest of the year. Jason and I will definitely try to make him feel special for his birthday, and make sure it isn’t combined with anything Christmas-y.

    • Crystal, Jason is one of the people we’re bummed out that we don’t get to celebrate with every year. Inevitably we’ve got a family Christmas function on his birthday. Tell him that he can start celebrating with me in July. It won’t just be E’s birthday bonfire anymore! 😉

  3. Luke gave me a new iphone for st. nick this morning. When I exclaimed that this was TOO NICE for St. Nick (we usually get socks or movies) he said “yeah, it’s for your birthday too”. SONOFA!!!! Clearly he didn’t read your facebook post yesterday 🙂

    • (MOUTH GAPING OPEN) Lukester! And when we worked together he ASSURED me that he took extra care for your birthday. You need to get him back somehow. 😉 Maybe when it’s his birthday (is that in May?) give him his gift and tell him that it’s for Father’s Day too.

  4. As parents, too, it’s darned exhausting when the kiddo’s birthday ends up near Christmas! As if the holidays aren’t enough on mom’s & dad’s plate, then you have the guilt of cutting corners to worry over… We have holiday ransack us, then one week after New Year’s comes the final holiday – the birthday of our only child. You could ask her if ever she’s received a combo gift, and while to her the answer is “no” – she has no idea that mom sets the budget, buys the gifts, and separates them into three piles (Christmas, Santa, and Birthday – separate paper, for sure). While I try to make sure one exciting gift gets into each pile, a larger budget in June would be nice! And you know she’d be getting the damn horse riding party she’s been asking for instead of rotating sledding and game room parties!

    Poor, poor girl! Despite all I can do, I truly “hope” that when she grows up with a problem and has us to blame, that it’s all due to her resenting this January birthday and not the 1,100 real mistakes we’ve made! 🙂

    • You make me smile. Always looking at the bigger picture. And yes, I can imagine that it is stressful for the parents as well. When we were “trying” for babies I was absolutely adamant about *not* trying in the month of March … because 9 months after March is December! 😉

  5. SO!!
    What kind of a birthday cake do you want? Need I ask?
    Should I wrap it up in birthday paper and send it along with you to your parents’ Christmas party?
    Just kidding.

    That’s quite a schedule, Kerry’s on the 15th – Yours on the l6th – Christmas party on the l7th.
    How do you want to celebrate? My house or yours. You’re welcome.

    Arlene’s is really close – on the 26th. It was a separate day but I can’t guarantee that I never wrapped her birthday present in Christmas paper. I can blame that one on to her. She was due on the 11th.I

  6. i loved your nuk (pacifier) post and love this one too. i think it’s because i can totally relate to your posts! 🙂 my first and only daughter was born a week before Christmas last year. she’s celebrating her first birthday soon and my husband I are torn on 2 gifts or 1 big gifts. we are throwing her a huge birthday party so… that counts as a gift too, no?? 🙂
    her original due date was the 22nd of December, but we were glad she was born 4 days earlier… not as close to Christmas. 🙂
    just wanted to leave a note to say that i enjoyed reading. 🙂

  7. While my daughter’s November birthday isn’t quite Christmas season it is a hard month to do a party that is different…no snow for sledding, no ice for ice skating…just dreary mud or frozen mud….A few years ago she convinced me to have a 1/2 birthday/pony party for her in June. To her credit she only accepted donations for a horse rescue instead of getting 26 gifts! Great idea and very sweet..lots of work for mom.

  8. Stumbled on this today after crying myself to sleep last night from another awful December birthday. Thanks for writing it! Wish my parents had been so enlightened. I have a baby picture just like yours, shoved under the Christmas tree. It was prophetic. I’m all grown up, but it doesn’t stop hurting; I thought it would, but if anything it compounds over the years of neglect. Had to laugh at the half-developed plans of wrapping other people’s gifts in Christmas paper — I’ve dreamed of doing that so many times, for just the same reason. I hope many people out there are educated by your excellent instructions on December birthday gifts. I really love Christmas too, I just want to forget it exists for one whole day in December. Seems reasonable to me, but don’t think it will ever happen. Think I’ll book an isolation chamber next year because other people’s good intentions (if they remember at all) end up making me more depressed. Maybe alone time is the solution. Thanks again!

    • First, Happy Birthday! Secondly, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re experiencing this! I think you should pick a day in June and celebrate. I’m liking the idea of a half birthday more and more. Maybe you should show this to your parents …

      • Thanks! I probably would have done a June birthday if I’d thought of it as a kid or young teen, but I think it’s kind of a lost cause now, for me anyway. My parents are definitely a lost cause; doesn’t even register. A few years ago my birthday present from them was a collection of unwrapped items that looked suspiciously like thrift store finds/white elephant regifts inside an open large box wrapped in Christmas paper. It was unceremoniously dumped into my lap on Christmas afternoon with the comment of “Oh and this is for your birthday”. One item was a book about Christmas, the rest was just various junk not at all like my taste. Last year my sister (as I found out later) mercifully prevented my Mom from bringing a birthday cake out on Christmas morning. Really, I do think the solution for me is to be alone and find myself a happy place; it’s trying to involve other people in celebrating my birthday that always completely ruins everything ’cause they just can’t or won’t get it. Love you for being someone that does! 🙂

  9. Pingback: Unanticipated « On the Night You Were Born

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