Merry Birthday


9:06am December 25th, 1979. My birthday.

My mom tells me she suffered through Christmas Eve with pains of childbirth and then finally on Christmas morning, I arrived. Rumor has it, the doctors handed me to my mother in a Christmas stocking.

Being born on Christmas has been a great source of unearned pride of mine. It is my “go-to” answer when I am asked to say something interesting about myself as an icebreaker. Almost every time I show my ID, I am asked if I like being born on Christmas. Once, my hometown paper did a front page article about me just because I shared a birthday with Jesus. I really embraced the fact that I was a Christmas baby and wanted to change my name to Noel Nativity (it was a phase….). Now, I am proud of my birthday and very happy my parents did not change my name.

Growing up, I loved having my birthday on Christmas. As a mother, I know the reason that I enjoyed sharing my birthday with such a huge holiday has a great deal to do with how my parents (let’s be honest, it was mostly my mom) managed this balancing act. I can see how this could be very difficult if my child had a birthday near any holiday. We all want our child’s birthday to feel like a special day that is just for them. How do we do that if their birthday is on or near a day that is celebrated for another reason?

Here are a few ideas to help distinguish your child’s birthday from any holiday.

Celebrate the time.

I came into this world at exactly 9:06am. Every Christmas morning we would stop whatever we were doing and celebrate my birthday at 9:06am. We would have pancakes with birthday candles in them and I would open my birthday presents.  I think that focusing on this time made a part of the day feel like it was just mine. It also makes it fun to set a timer or alarm and have to drop everything.

Separate wrapping paper and birthday cards.

I know this sounds simple, but it means a lot. It doesn’t matter if your child has a birthday near Valentine’s Day, Easter, New Years – there is bound to be gift wrapping that is for that holiday…do not buy it. Focus on wrapping that is overly birthday themed. This also goes for the card. This small act makes a big difference and helps the recipient feel like you did something special. When I met my husband the one thing I told him I cared about as far as him celebrating my birthday was that I really wanted him to get a birthday card for me, not a Christmas card. He is a very smart man and continues to buy me a sappy birthday card that has nothing to do with Christmas.

Separate gifts.

As a grown-up, I am overjoyed to receive any sort of gift. You could wrap up a candle and say it is for my birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day – and I would be grateful. As a child, that will not work. It was hard when relatives gave me a gift and said it was for my birthday and Christmas. Financially, I understand that it is hard to give birthday gifts when you are already spending so much on other presents. If possible, try to at least give one gift that isn’t doubled up for both celebrations.

Choose a different day.

My mother shared a recovery room in the hospital after I was born. Her roommate also had a baby on Christmas. We actually became friends with their family and they decided to celebrate their daughter’s birthday on June 25th (her half birthday). I am not sure how this all pans out on big birthdays (16, 18, 21), but for childhood – this seemed to be a good compromise. This way, she got her special day, and it was probably a little easier to celebrate.

Focus on the benefits.

I am not sure if my parents pumped me full of all the reasons for why having my birthday on Christmas was amazing, or if I just came to know them. However, sharing my birthday with a holiday has been a blessing.

  • I always get to see my family (usually my ENTIRE family) on my actual birthday. It was fun going to my aunt’s house on Christmas day and having my 2nd and 3rd cousins there to sing Happy Birthday to me. These are relatives that I only saw on Christmas and I never got to celebrate with them for their birthdays.
  • Another perk is that my birthday is pretty easy to remember. Even before Facebook, people would remember my birthday and reach out – I did not know their birthdates, but they always remembered mine.
  • I also like that I never have to work on my birthday, it is always a day off.
  • Now as a mom, I am so focused on making Christmas special for my kids, that I don’t have time to focus on growing another year older. My birthday comes and goes and it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.

If your child was born near or on a holiday, I encourage you to speak positively about it, attempt to make it feel separate and special and please buy the birthday wrapping paper.