Here's the Thing About Having a Birthday On or Near Christmas


In 1985, my father ate Christmas dinner at the Waffle House. That’s because I was born a week ahead of schedule, on December 24. But being born is pretty much the one time a Christmas baby gets to overshadow the omnipresent holiday and, consequently, I am completely befuddled by birthdays as a cultural institution.

In a piece reprinted over at Slate today, another member of the Christmas Club argues that, far from a curse, her birthday is one of the best things that ever happened to her. “I’m here to tell you that this claim is ludicrous. Having a Christmas birthday is awesome.”

Uh, what?

It’s not like a Christmas birthday makes you some neglected Oliver Twist, living out Sixteen Candles in perpetuity. For instance, my family always devoted an hour or so to cake and ice cream, my presents were usually in appropriate wrapping paper, and as a kid I got to leave cake instead of cookies for Santa. So alt! Also, combined gifts can be awesome if you’re campaigning for something big.

But let’s get real. If you’re born on or near Christmas (especially if your family celebrates it, but even if they don’t) you’re always sharing custody of the day. The suggestion that we can simply glom onto the ongoing festivities is bunkum. That’s like getting married on Halloween and saying hey, we don’t need flowers because the pumpkins make everything so festive!

It would be nice to save the pick-me-up for a stretch of the year less littered with holidays. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, everyone’s partied out. It would be so very nice to have a day to spend day-drinking in the sunshine, instead. Besides, it’s not like you need another excuse to eat cake in December.

Not that this is a big deal. But that’s the thing about being a Christmas baby. Birthdays are just never a big deal. Consequently, it is really hard to relate to people who grew up with a day all to themselves. What’s that like?

When your birthday coincides with the holidays, it’s just not feasible to round up your friends for a get-together within a two-week radius of your birthday, so parties are out of the question. As a kid, their parents are busy; in college, they’re home for winter break; as an adult, they’re out of town or just sick of parties. I had just two growing up, and one of them was held at Halloween with a fellow Christmas baby.

There are no off-key renditions of “Happy Birthday” by elementary school classmates or reluctant coworkers. There’s no dinner with friends. Mention “birthday drinks” to me, and I promise I will blink, confused, like someone raised on Mars. Is this one of your Earth customs? Every year I forget someone’s birthday, but that’s because I forget that birthdays are actually a thing.

On the bright side, though, Leonard Nimoy remembered us this year:

Image via Shutterstock

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