Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas!

Today’s Throwback Thursday might seem more like a pet peeve than an actual throwback story, but I’ll do my best to accommodate both purposes.

Late one December night, a teenage girl sat in her parents’ living room watching Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, when she suddenly doubled over with pain.  As it turned out, I was the cause of her pain (and she never let me forget it, but that’s another story).  I was born early the next morning, which happened to be three days before Christmas and which also happened to be the teenage mom’s birthday as well.

Back then, women stayed in the hospital three days after giving birth, so I was sent home on Christmas afternoon, and the hospital actually wrapped me in an oversized red and white Christmas stocking.  (Too bad no one cared to get a photo of me in it, but that, too, is another story.)

A few short weeks later, the teenage girl moved to another state with a man and left me with my grandparents (but not until after she served me with a bill for nine months’ rent for womb and board, but once more, that’s a story for another time).  The birth mom and the man moved back to my town a couple of years later and lived across town from my house.  She visited me once every week or two, and she lived across town until I was six, when she got with a different man and moved out of state again until I was eleven.  I saw her twice for a single day visit during those five years.  Then she moved back in with her parents and me for a few months, then moved out with another man and moved an hour away.  This time, I saw her about once a month.

So, now that the backstory is out of the way, I’ll get to my pet peeve throwback.  As a kid, I hated my birthday!  I never got to have birthday parties because my Grandma was always afraid we might bother people so close to the holidays!  (I actually had one once.  Two girls came.)  Honestly, I believe if my birthday was in June, Grandma would have come up with a different though similar excuse as to why me having a party was a bad idea.

I hated how people would always say, “That’s so cool!  You’re a Christmas baby!”  (Gee, you’re so clever.  It’s not like I’ve ever heard that original quip before.)

I hated when my birthday present from my grandparents was wrapped in Christmas paper.  I hated that on the years that my grandma remembered to bake me a cake (yes, she actually forgot a couple of times), she always made it be a coconut cake and stuck a plastic Santa on top.  (The coconut was supposed to look like snow.)  I hated that she kept recycling the same plastic Santa to put on top!  I hated the times she forgot to buy me a birthday present and told me to just go pick out a present from under the Christmas tree.  I don’t blame my grandparents.  Their lives were headed in a different direction when they got saddled with raising a kid they didn’t plan on.

But I especially hated when people found out I was born on my mother’s birthday.  Grownups would always make twice the fuss of how cool that was.  I don’t think it would’ve been cool even if I had a normal mother who lived at my house and loved me.  Kids like to be acknowledged and fussed over.  They shouldn’t have to share their special day.

However, I had one great-aunt and uncle who, every year for my birthday, killed four birds with one stone.  Every single year, I’d receive a card in the mail addressed to me and my birth mom (even though they knew she didn’t live with me) that said “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to you both!”  Talk about the epitome of miserliness!

Okay, sorry for the rant.  Thanks for listening.

So tell me, do you or does anyone you know have a birthday close to another gift-giving holiday?  Do you know two or more people that share the same birthday?  Will you share the details of your favorite birthday party with us?  Have you ever been guilty of wrapping someone’s birthday present in holiday paper?


51 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas!

  1. A touching bittersweet tale – with glimpses of other stories to tell that this reader for one would like to read. Maybe we could outdo each other on childhood memories what with my mum’s amazing germ phobias that prevented me having a normal upbringing! Nice one Rachel.

    • LOL! I’ve never met anyone who wanted to get into a pissing match with me over who had the worst mum, who didn’t walk away later with their tale between their legs when they either realized how mean mine is or met her in person and saw it firsthand. Thanks, Mike! 😀

  2. Poor Rachel. You got jobbed. My birthday is Dec. 14, and as I got older — teens — it was actually me that was worried that I was putting people out too close to Christmas. Go figure. Now, though, bring on the gifts. 🙂

    • That tells me you must have had some pretty amazing gifts if you were worried it was strapping people before the holidays. 😉 But I’m with you…. Bring on the gifts! 😀 (I know you still want that ’57 car for your 57th, right?) 🙂

      • No, I didn’t say strapping. I said putting them out. Big difference, there. 🙂 I did get nice gifts, always, but rich none of us were and money wasn’t much on my mind back then. No, the ’57 car isn’t on my wish list, Rachel. We don’t have room in our driveway!

      • Well, I guess as long as you don’t get another pet gopher for your birthday, you’ll be happy. 😉 You had something better than money – you have the best family memories that are so awesome to share. I love looking at all your photos and hearing the stories that go with them. 🙂

  3. I always lament the fact that my mother died when I was five. Reading your story I feel sad that your mother wasn’t there for you.
    My granddaughter was born on 25th Dec after 12 am in Troy, New York.

    • Aww, that’s so sad. I’m sorry. Yeah, isn’t it sad how nice people pass but mean ones linger on. I hope your granddaughter has a separate birthday/Christmas celebration. 🙂 I always thought a “half-birthday” party in June would be a good idea.

  4. i’m so sorry you had to endure all of this, rachel. this is so much for child (and adult) to have to deal with. i’m happy you have come through it all to be the rachel you are. as for birthdays, my oldest daughter was born 2 weeks before christmas, youngest close to easter, and middle on flag day. my birthday is generally a week before thanksgiving. i’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that everyone has their own celebration, exclusive front the other holiday occupying their space. in my class, i make sure to celebrate the summer birthday kids with a school birthday too )

    • Thank you! 🙂 My daughter, her dad and my son were all within 6 days of each other, so when I was still married to him, I was always broke in October. You’re an awesome mom to keep the celebrations separate. 😀 And a fun teacher, too! (I forgot to add that to my list above…that my birthday wasn’t even celebrated in school like other kids’ were.) LOL!

  5. My mother and I share the same birthdate 😄 I love to focus more on her than me especially as I grow older …..but I wish that it would last forever coz if she weren’t there I’d like to be able to forget my birthday….

  6. Thanks for this! My brother was born close to Christmas, and in the past he would occasionally get one bigger present from us for both celebrations, but nowadays I always try to get him two separate presents, wrap them in appropriate paper, and post them across the world so he gets them in time.
    My favourite birthday party was when my husband and I celebrated our ‘100th birthday’ (ages combined equalled 100) together with friends.

    • How cool for your brother! I know he must appreciate your efforts! As for your 100 party, what a neat idea!!! It makes me want to hurry and find a husband before we pas the 100 mark! 🙂

  7. My birthday is near Christmas, but I am very lucky that my family was always great and made sure my birthday was completely separate from Christmas. There was no Christmas at all, and they would wait to put up Christmas decorations until after my bday in the living room.

    My friend’s bday is on Christmas eve, though, and her family just join the two. That always made me feel sad 😦

  8. How unfortunate! My experience was very different.

    My birthday is December 20. In hindsight, I see that my arrival ruined the holiday for my mother (and father and grandparents, with whom we lived, and probably also for my aunt, uncle and cousins, who occupied the other half of the duplex), because she had a painful recovery and I screamed constantly until somebody – I think it was Grandpa Jim – brought home Enzylac milk (nobody had told Ma about breastfeeding, and nobody knew I had lactose intolerance; in those days, it was just “colic”). But afterwards – and I don’t know how she did it – Ma made sure that nobody ever lumped together my birthday and Christmas. I always had my own party and separate presents. In fact, Ma orchestrated this so well, it wasn’t until I was almost 30, and had just given birth on Dec. 6 to my third child, that I realized I had been a “Christmas baby.”

    Grandpa Jim was born on Dec 24, 1894, and he was the type to have considered me to have been his own special Christmas present. He was our step-grandpa, but he loved us all so much, that he was our favorite grandfather. He died when I was in kindergarten. My younger sister was born on Sept. 3, which was our biological grandfather’s birthday, but he had been dead for 20 years, so it wasn’t an issue. Her birthday problem was that the year she was born, Sept. 3 was Labor Day!

    I hope you’re in the position, now, to have begun having happier “returns of the day.”

    • Every time I hear another story about your Ma, I just want to meet her and give her a big hug! She sounds amazing! Grandpa Jim sounds pretty amazing, too!

      After my childhood, I definitely always had fun planning HUGE parties for my kids’ birthdays. I guess I kind of lived vicariously through them. Even now that they’re grown, when I see other people with young children host parties, I love the “homemade” parties so much more than the kind that are hosted at a restaurant or other business (such as a skating rink). 🙂

  9. I so relate to this! My birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving Day, and one year my mom thought it would be great to surprise me with a Turkey Cake. So after everyone had finished their second round of Thanksgiving Feast delights, she brought out a Turkey Cake (which no one was hungry enough to eat anymore). I ran into my room and cried my eyes out! Holiday birthdays are the worst!

  10. You and my brother share the same birthday, but we made a point to separate the two. I’m sorry yours sucked. Most of mine have sucked in general, and most people I know do not enjoy their birthdays, if that makes you feel any better. 😉 On my 30th, my boyfriend broke up with me. NIce guy. *Exasperated sigh. My best friend growing up was born on Valentine’s Day, and she got a lot of those type of inspired cards and gifts. She hated it too. My advice, make a point to do something nice for yourself. Celebrate for a week. Seek out your own birthday happiness. I did that this year, and I am planning something big for my next one.

      • We Rach(a)els have to stick together! 🙂 This past year I celebrated for a week; my sister took me to see Frozen (we don’t go to the movies all that often), I made a point to see The Book of Mormon, a nice dinner, decorated the apartment, and generally tried my best to change my perspective. Next year, I’m thinkin’ a week at Disney World. If I can swing it. It’s almost impossible to be unhappy at one of the Happiest Places on Earth.

      • That’s true! Disney is about 30 minutes from me. (It’s also one of the most expensive places on earth!) I hope you get to go and than if you do, it doesn’t rain on you! 🙂

  11. A friend of mine was born the day after Christmas, and her parents named her Noel. Fitting, I think, but she always has a separate birthday party after Christmas. (Sorry about your non-existent parties!) 😦 Such a shame! I’m very sensitive to other people’s birthday desires because mine always gets lumped in with two of my aunts, who happen to have birthdays within a few days of me. So I never wrap December birthdays in Christmas paper, and they always get their own card/gift. I’d send you one if I could!

    • LOL! Thank you! 😀 Noel—if you could see my eyes roll on that one, poor girl. 🙂 But good she had separate parties. My kids are born 6 days apart, and I tried having separate parties, but because they had a lot of the same friends or sibling friends, so many people went to the first party one weekend, but didn’t show up for the second party the following weekend, that I ended up having to combine them. However, even so, I still tried to make them as much like “two separate parties on the same day” as possible, and then of course we always had “family parties” on their actual birth dates so those were separate. You’re very kind to be so sensitive to others’ birthdays. 🙂

  12. My cousin was born on Christmas Eve, and when he was a kid, he unofficially changed his birthday to some day in the middle of June.

  13. My son was born the day before valentines day. I don’t think he cares one way or the other. My youngest daughter was born the day before the 4th and she hates it. First there are those dang fireworks ALL the time. Then she always has to have her birthday away from home because we frequently travel to visit relatives on that weekend. My saying that she can have her cake up north made by grandma doesn’t make up for being away from home. When you celebrate your birthday at the relatives’ house you cant enjoy your present till you get home…or you have to share with the cousins. So yeah…I think she can understand somewhat. 🙂

    • Yeah, I agree, and I think that boys might not care as much about things like the wrapping paper as much as girls would. Does your daughter get a party before or after the vacation when she’s at home? 🙂

  14. Rachel, in spite of your wonderful-as-always humor, there were so many sad things about this post and I hate it for the child that was you that you didn’t get your own special day!! My mother’s birthday is December 4th, and this post made me empathize with her for all the many time she has experienced some of the things on the pet peeve list! Thanks for the good reminders!

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