Why Holiday Birthdays Suck, Especially For Kids

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 

As soon as I looked at a positive pregnancy test, I started praying. Please don’t be a Christmas baby, I kept saying in my mind to the little life growing inside me. I knew what that meant. Christmas babies get one present instead of two, because, as people say, “It’s twice as big!”

News flash, assholes: It’s never twice as big.

Christmas babies get one cake, while Jesus gets another, because, “You share a birthday!”

So I prayed against a Christmas baby. I wished against a Christmas baby. I told my uterus to stay the hell shut until after the new year.

I got a December 20 baby, right on his due date. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least he won’t be a Christmas baby. But I still got a holiday baby, and a holiday baby is nearly as bad as a Christmas baby. In fact, being a holiday baby downright sucks.

You can, for example, have your birthday near other holidays and still expect a decent birthday theme. My other two sons are Halloween and the week after, so we celebrate with a massive blowout that includes tons of candy, two cakes, costumes, trick-or-treating, and presents from the entire family. They party for about a week, those two. I think the baby is convinced the holiday is all in service of his personal birthday, with people carrying those pumpkin treat bags all for him.

But a Christmas holiday birthday has shit for a theme. No one wants to share their day with the baby Jesus. He always upstages you. Trans-Siberian Orchestra and lit-up trees make for a bad birthday party. No one says “Happy Birthday” with eggnog. And fruitcake’s a rock-hard substitute for real cake.

If you can manage a holiday birthday party, that is — which you can’t, because no one comes. Everyone’s too busy with real holiday parties to make it to a holiday birthday party. And if they aren’t going to a party, they’re getting ready for a party, frantically cleaning before relatives arrive, frantically wrapping before relatives arrive, frantically shopping, frantically stress-eating, or just hiding under the bed and clapping their hands over their ears to ward off one more rendition of “Carol of the Bells.”

Then there’s the mixing of the presents. My son always gets more presents for a combined Christmas and a holiday birthday, but it’s never as much as the combined haul for Christmas and a regular birthday. And they tend to come all in a bunch, especially from out-of-town relatives. People try. They do, really. Our relatives have never gotten him a combined present, and for that, we remain grateful. But it’s never as much. And it’s always in Christmas wrapping paper. Happy Birthday! Here’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Every. Fucking. Year.

I know people who have holiday birthdays. My husband’s grandmother had hers right smack on the day itself and seemed pretty amicable about the whole affair. Christmas birthday cake was a family tradition. A friend of mine is another holiday baby. His mother assigned him another birthday sometime in April, which everyone pretended was his real birthday and celebrated accordingly. He had a party and presents and cupcakes and the whole American sprinkled shindig. Still, he always admitted, it sucked not having a party on his real birthday.

We have a family happy birthday. That’s the best we can do. We can’t throw a party or make Christmas go away or stop all the relatives from wrapping his Legos in Santa Claus paper. We tried to hold a birthday party a few months later this year, but no one got it. People felt like it was his real birthday, and everyone got confused, and I ended up looking like a crazy woman packing a cake and some candles.

So in the end, there isn’t much we can do to mitigate the Christmas suck. We can have a candle. We can give birthday presents on his birthday and Christmas presents on Christmas. We can use separate wrapping paper. We can just say no to eggnog on December 20, eschew Christmas shopping, stop the Christmas cleaning, put the brakes on the holiday monster, and just celebrate my son. But we can’t ask the rest of the world to follow. Baby Jesus and his twinkling light show always win.

And that totally sucks.

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