(Marie Lambert)– Ever since, well, basically the day I was born, my birthday and Christmas have been at odds. This is an unavoidable conflict, considering I was born on Christmas Eve itself, December 24th. As ancient cultures believed that the day you were born (and planets/stars born under) shaped your personality and fortune, my life has been influenced significantly by the fact that I entered the world in such close proximity to a holiday.
When I was young, I seemed to be the only one who felt that this was a bad thing. To this day, whenever I complain about my bad gestational timing, my mother reminds me with unnecessary sentimentality that I was the “best Christmas present she’d ever received.” Cue the pictures of a very rotund and un-amused me being carried home in a large stocking.
As a child, whenever I told other kids when my birthday was I was met with positive responses:
“Awesome, you must get double the presents!”
“But they come all at once in the year, and they I have to wait a whole year til the next time…”
“But DOUBLE the presents!”
Exasperated that my peers did not understand the proper timing of presents and special occasions, I gave up trying to convince them of the contrary. Within a few years, the general opinion seemed to change, and I got much different responses:
“You were born on Christmas Eve? That sucks!”
Yeah, thanks for reminding me. Even though people were finally agreeing with me, I strangely now felt the need to defend my birthday: at least I never had to worry about school getting in the way of my celebrations… not that anyone would ever come to a party the day before Christmas anyway (to the eternal sadness of my childhood self).
But it’s hard to focus on the positives of a Christmas birthday when it’s really Christmas itself that seems to take precedence in people’s minds. The classic two-in-one present is a good example of this. Well, her birthday is the day before Christmas, so I guess this pair of socks/encyclopedia/egg whisk can count as both a Christmas present and a birthday present…
And then there are the lovely birthday cards specifically for those of us born near a holiday. Because on the day commemorating my existence I’d like to be reminded of the commercial holiday that overshadows it.
This might be a universal truth, but my birthday always seems like the shortest day of the year. Sure, I had the morning, afternoon, and early evening devoted to whatever I wanted, but once the birthday dinner was over, my family always wanted to go to church that night to beat the crowds on Christmas Day. And then it was off to bed with me because Santa was coming and he had to wrap some presents before morning. Between Jesus and Santa, there wasn’t much time left over to celebrate my day. The excitement of Christmas Day itself usually distracted me temporarily from my angst, but once December 26th rolled around it was back with a vengeance. I would lie on the living room floor—strewn with shredded wrapping paper and dead pine needles—wishing that it could just be December 23rd again, with two days of joy ahead of me.
Surprisingly, for all my complaining, I still love Christmas. I love the movies, I love the terribly overplayed music, I love the lights and the decorations and despite the rampant consumerism, I love the sense of optimism and hope that pervades the populous. And even though it overshadows my birthday, I can’t help but feel like the whole world is celebrating with me.
And so on the eve of my 20th birthday (last day of being a teenager, so weird), I think I’m close to making my peace with the season that has so long stolen my thunder.
As long as no one tells me “Merry Birthday” tomorrow.