When people find out my birthday is on Christmas Eve they inevitably ask something along the lines of “did you get totally ripped off as a kid?”
The truth is I totally didn’t. I loved — loved — December and it felt special to celebrate Hanukkah, my birthday and Christmas all at once. My parents made huge efforts to separate my birthday from the holidays. I don’t remember any two-in-one gifts.
One thing I do remember is my mom braving a major snowstorm to pick up my friends, so I could celebrate my 13th birthday with them at JJ Muggs.
Now that I’m a mom, this time of year feels quite different. I still love the holidays, but it’s not about me, really. (Though I’m so lucky to be married to someone who goes to extreme lengths to buy me amazing, and separate, gifts for my birthday and Christmas, so I guess it’s still a tiny bit about me.)
But back to what it feels like to be born around this time of year. I asked some friends on Facebook who had December birthdays, or December babies, about what they, or their parents, did to make sure their days were just as special.
They gave some great answers. Here is what they had to say:
“My birthday is December 22 and I wouldn’t have it any other way (yes, yes…no choice, etc., but it really is the best time of year). My family always distinguished between the two but we also evolved some fusion birthday traditions. My favourite is that we always decorate the Christmas tree together on my birthday – it might have been put up the weekend before but we’d wait for my big day and would decorate it together. It’s a tradition that stands to this day.
There are so many great things about being a Christmas baby. A few more are:
1. Everyone is always around for your birthday (which means even bigger parties as you get older) 2. Sometimes people worry so much about forgetting your birthday when you’re young that they accidentally give you two presents (one early on, thinking they’ll forget and then a second one on the day, having forgotten they already gave you one!) 3. You create traditions that go beyond what others do on their birthdays – it’s not just presents and parties but traditions that have the potential to last for generations
When a birthday is close to Christmas it almost serves as a reminder so people rarely forget and almost always make a big effort to make it an extra special day.”
“Even though Adelaide is only approaching her second birthday this year, we've made a real effort to celebrate her day as a discrete event from Christmas. In some ways it's easier. Extended family is in from out of town, work eases to a more manageable pace, and people are definitely in a festive mood. So what if she gets a couple ‘dual-purpose’ presents? We try to downplay the material aspect of birthdays and Christmas anyway, so it's not a huge loss. (At least for now. We'll see what happens when she gets more interested in the present side of things.) When I think of Adelaide's birthday in the years to come, I think of sledding and skating parties, cake and hot cocoa and kids excited to be off for winter break. It might not have been the way we would have planned it (if we had planned it), but I think as a birthday it works.”
“I was born on Dec. 23 and have a son born Dec. 12, so I have a few stories.
People always assume having a birthday so close to Christmas is unfortunate, but I think my mother always worked hard to make a distinction when I was small. She always made sure birthday present were not wrapped in Christmas paper and there were hardly ever combo presents unless it was to my advantage. The truth is I've never known anything else, so it's hard to compare. I was jealous as a small child of sunny summer parties, new bicycles you could ride, but I got over that eventually.
The real advantage of having a birthday so close to the day of the bearded one’s, is that everyone is ALWAYS in such a ‘jolly’ mood beforehand. As a student it was fun to come home for my birthday and see my old friends and when I was well beyond the cake and ice cream parties and started having house parties. They are always fantastic, because all those mantras of peace and goodwill really do sink in sometime around December 15th. Even the most curmudgeonly sorts loosen up.
The year I had my son, I was so overwhelmed by all the house preparation leading up to his birth, and then just the reality of suddenly having this tiny new human to take care of, that it made me rather blasé about the event that year. I really didn't think or care to get the tree and decorate, etc. My mom stayed with us for the first 10 days. My husband and I took the baby out for a doctor's appointment and when we returned home she had put up the tree and decorated the entire living room.
It was really sweet and I cherish those ‘first Christmas’ pictures by the tree! It was also festive for the throngs of visitors those next couple of weeks.
His birthday is now the start of our season. After he's had his day, then we set up.”
“Caden's second birthday is coming up on December 20th. I do feel already like some people 'forget' and get caught up in the whole Christmas overload (a whole other issue), which is why we are again celebrating his birthday ahead of time (this weekend). To me, making them very separate events is important — I want to be sure that he always gets that special day. I'm taking the day off work this year so that it can really be about spending time together and doing things he loves.
I never want it to be a 'too bad for you' thing that his birthday is in December but rather 'look how AMAZING December is!'”
-Tracy Newcombe Platt
Still looking for more? Learn how to throw an elf-workshop birthday party!
Or, check out these 10 winter birthday party ideas.
Do you have a December baby? How do you celebrate their birthday?