Today, dear reader, is my birthday. I’ll be the ripe old age of 24, given that the world doesn’t end on Friday (I’m writing this on Thursday, so you never know). I’ve obviously had this birthday my entire life and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of pity I get from those folk who realize it’s two days from Christmas.
“Oh, that’s awful! You must not get that many presents”
“Does your family combine your birthday and Christmas?”
“It must be hard to celebrate.”
I’ve heard every single one of these statements repeatedly throughout my 24 years, and I feel like it’s time that I set the record straight: being a Christmas baby isn’t half as hard as people think it is. Yeah, I did force my family to miss Christmas Day way back in 1988, but my wonderful parents forgave even that sin.
My birthday was never merged with Christmas. And seeing as it was conveniently perched before Christmas Eve, there was just enough buffer time that converging the holidays would be somewhat pointless.
As far as gifts were concerned, I never felt shortchanged. I never got the same amount for my birthday as Christmas, but I didn’t feel like that was unusual. Isn’t that how it works for those non-Christmas babies? I got three or four gifts, one of which was usually really nice (or just really big), we ate our cake and ice cream, and I was happy. Two days later I opened gifts on Christmas and was, once again, just as happy. Heck, most of the time we even had leftover cake, so it was like I got two days of cake, ice cream and cool stuff.
The only thing that I couldn’t really accomplish was the birthday party, though it was not without trying. As a child, I would beg and plead to my parents to have a super-cool birthday party like my friends did. I probably wanted some ‘60s- or Barbie-themed thing with the paper plates and balloons that matched. My parents tried to explain to me why no one would come to a birthday party on my actual birthday, but between the ages of 6 and 10, a comet hitting the earth wouldn’t have been enough of an excuse as to why I couldn’t have my birthday party on the actual day of my birth. A few times my parents folded. I had a skating party when I was in elementary school. I had to share the party with one of my friends, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled about that. I remember getting a figure-skating Barbie, which was the highlight of my day — besides eating copious amounts of junk food.
I got to have a sleepover once. It scarred my mother so terribly I was never allowed to have one ever again.
I remember we had to track down someone’s mom because she didn’t come pick her daughter up. I don’t have many other memories of this, so I figure it wasn’t as great as I thought it was.
The last party I remember was my 13th birthday. My parents let me invite a few of my friends over for pizza and a party. My parents made it music themed and hung CDs on fishing line from the ceiling. My friends and I hung out, opened gifts and called into our local radio station’s nightly countdown show. It was a blast.
Once I went to college, having a party became even more complicated. My birthday fell during Christmas vacation, so all my friends were back home with their families while I was at home celebrating with mine.
That’s when my concept of a “birthday party” really changed. Mainly, I didn’t want something flashy anymore. I didn’t want a bunch of cake with fake icing and a tub of Neapolitan ice cream or big gifts.
What I really wanted was the ability to spend my birthday with people who care about me and were happy to see me make it to another year.
Next year will be another milestone birthday; I’ll be 25. I’ll be halfway through my 20s and barrel rolling toward 30 at a pace I probably won’t find very pleasing, but I’ve never been a person to be bitter about getting older. I just consider it a part of life. Every year I get older and wiser, and I learn enough new things to make it worthwhile.
A quote I’ve always held true is this: “You should never be upset about getting older. It is a privilege denied to many.” And even if I’m born two days before the biggest holiday of the year, I’ll never take it for granted.