Have you heard this one before? Her birthday is on Christmas, and she’s Jewish!
Since the season is upon us, I thought I’d share a little rant about what a drag a Christmas birthday can be. In case you haven’t guessed, I know from experience. Yup, I’m what the world refers to as a Christmas baby. Whenever I need to supply my birth date, the response is, “Oh, a Christmas baby!” Then, with barely a pause, the person will add, “You must get screwed on presents.” (Really, they say, “You must get gypped,” but that is not politically correct, and I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, especially not in a post that is partly about my taking offense.)
“I’m Jewish,” I used to say huffily. “I don’t celebrate Christmas.”
“But,” they would always say, eager to help, “you don’t have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas,” (which, by the way, is not something a Jew would ever say).
I’ve reached the age where I’m no longer offended. Nowadays, after the expected reaction, I’m likely to mumble something like, “Oh yeah,” or, “You bet,” so we can move on gracefully.
What I haven’t outgrown is how lonely I can feel on my birthday, even though my husband goes out of his way to try to make the day special for me. The problem is that he can’t make the rest of the world not celebrate Christmas. Stores aren’t open, most restaurants are closed. I understand; people want to be with their families. But it is a little sad that on my special day, everyone else is otherwise occupied.
My little family usually spends the evening of my birthday with my parents and my sister’s family. They come over for dinner and we order Chinese food. My mother brings my favorite cake from the Royal Pastry Shop in Lexington. (The cake part is nothing special, but the frosting is to die for, creamy with a slightly crusty layer on the top. It’s pure sugar, delicious.) There was one year, when I was around ten, that we didn’t get back from a ski trip on time for my mother to pick up the cake from the bakery before it closed for the holiday. There was no joy in mudville that year.
And I don’t recall ever having a birthday party as a child. My little friends were busy eating their figgy pudding and breaking their new toys. To be fair, I don’t recall my siblings having birthday parties either so maybe the day on which I was born had nothing to do with it, but it sure didn’t help.
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, my final complaint has to do with presents. I hate it when someone gives me a present and says, “This is for your birthday and Christmas.” It makes it painfully clear that if I did celebrate Christmas, when it came to getting presents I’d be screwed.