“I’m a Christmas Eve baby.
My birthday wasn’t absolutely terrible growing up as I shared it with my uncle Brad. But I didn’t necessarily love it though, either. My family did a great job of keeping my birthday special and unique. My parents made it a ‘thing’ to not do any Christmas celebrations on my actual birthday. Any family parties either happened the day before my birthday, or during the days after Christmas. I think from an early age, they knew that they wanted that day to be exclusively mine.
Over time they really compensated for the fact that my birthday didn’t have the greatest timing in the eyes of others around me. They made my birthday presents a lot better than my Christmas ones. They really reiterated the fact to others that my birthday still deserved a birthday present and that my gifts could never be a combined present. None of that ‘this is for both your birthday and for Christmas’ type of thing was allowed. They really strived hard to make it two separate occasions, despite some others trying to make it one.
The hardest part about my birthday growing up was that there really isn’t another day of the year to look forward to. Celebrating happened so fast over the course of two days and then I waited another 364 days to do it again. It felt like the year just dragged on and on. As a kid, waiting felt like an eternity since the only huge celebration happened during that week of Christmas.
I remember being so jealous of friends who got to celebrate huge birthday parties at the pool in the summertime. Or honestly, just those who had these really big parties with a lot of kids. It’s not that I couldn’t have a party, it was just that all of my classmates had their own family engagements to attend which made throwing that party a little harder. I had a handful of friends who were able to sneak away from their own families to celebrate with me for a birthday lunch on my actual birthday. Looking back, that was way more personable and memorable than a huge party anyway. But as a kid, it’s hard to see the big picture. I’m really thankful for the parents of those friends who allowed them to do that with me on that day.
But there was still this lingering feeling that I was missing out on something. My grandma was the only one who picked up on this feeling. She decided to give me a half-birthday breakfast date with her every June 24th. She wanted me to have another day in the year to be excited about. It’s almost like she knew I needed that little date to count on even though I really didn’t understand the importance it had over me until I was an adult. It became our special little thing and the way she tried to empathize with me meant a whole lot in my little world.
In all honesty, there’s nothing my parents could have done more to make my birthday more special. They did a fantastic job of keeping my day as my day. But it was just the overall scheme of it being so close to Christmas that I felt like everyone else didn’t care. The spirit of Christmas was always that looming ‘elephant in the room.’ When everyone is looking forward to Christmas and getting their own gifts and spending time with their own families, it’s easy for people to overlook a birthday.
One of the things we also do for every birthday is ice cream cakes from Dairy Queen. Even looking back on those cakes, almost all of them…if not all…had some sort of Christmas-y character on them. Some had Santas and some had snowmen, while others had reindeer or a Christmas tree. We definitely could have tried harder to make them more birthday-like. But I think those cakes just show another small example of how it can be hard to escape the Christmas shadow unless you’re really planning to.
When I met my sweet, sweet husband, do you know what he did on that first birthday we spent together? He wrapped my presents in Christmas wrapping paper. It’s sort of been a running joke in my family that you do not wrap birthday presents in Christmas wrapping paper. It’s just another one of those small details that meant a lot to me as a kid that my family really respected. Maybe it’s not really a joke – everyone takes that rule pretty seriously! He learned pretty quickly to never do that again! But every year my family is quick to remind him to make sure he has some solid color wrapping paper, at least. Even if it is red or green! Just no Santa’s or snowmen, please.
Now that I’m a mom, I don’t mind my birthday at all anymore. I have my anniversary every July to look forward to, as well as all of my children’s birthdays. We celebrate my birthday in the morning and then we switch over to Christmas at night. So my birthday now includes a bunch of Christmas traditions with my own kids, some of which I never did growing up. Some of those traditions, like getting a new pair of pajamas, is something my parents never did for us. But they never did that because they didn’t want to be disrespectful to me by letting my siblings open a gift too. In hindsight, I wish I wasn’t so set-in-my-ways about my birthday as a kid and allowed us all have those pajamas. It’s a fun tradition we do with our own kiddos that I think would have translated well with me and my brother and sister.
Having a birthday so close to Christmas isn’t all bad! The good news is that my birthday is one of the easiest for people to remember! Another really cool thing was that when I was in college, everyone comes home around the holidays. So I was always able to see all of my friends and all of my family for my birthday. We now live out of state, so we don’t travel ‘home’ for the holidays anymore. (Plane tickets for 7 people is crazy!) But at least I always have the possibility of my children still being around for it, even when they’re adults with their own families one day.
If I had any advice for parents with young kids who were born in December, I would tell you to do something special in June. Whether it be a big breakfast celebration, or a fun outing you can do every summer as a tradition. It gives kiddos another day to look forward to when it can feel like Christmas overshadows their special day. It’s also just another fun excuse to do something with each other! But for the most part, they will appreciate the gesture of ‘thinking outside of the box’ a whole lot as an adult. We all remember the experiences anyways. A December baby might just appreciate it as much as I did.”
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