Ho, Ho, Harrumph

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.

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11 responses to “Ho, Ho, Harrumph

  1. So wait. I am a bit confused. You converted me to celebrating Judymas many years ago. I am a Judyian. This still conforms with your religious beliefs, right?

    And anyway, if your parents had done a little simple math nine months before you were born, this would not have been a problem. Sheesh.

  2. Judymas deserves to be celebrated. Does it have similar decor such as a Festivus pole? But talk to me about cakes with crusty frosting. I have been looking for it for years.

  3. Like Christmas isn’t annoying enough for people who don’t celebrate it, now you’re dealing with a birthday on that day.

    • Strangely, I enjoy all things Christmas, except for the day. I love the decorations, the music, the general feeling of goodwill. Too bad we can’t have it all year!

  4. HI Judy,
    I feel your pain.
    My Jewish husband was born on December 23rd. He has also had some of the same experiences. Because I grew up with Christmas, we have always celebrated a non-denominational holiday on the 25th with a tree and stockings. It has been difficult making sure he felt feted on his birthday. Even my father (a very thoughtful man) would send just one present for my husband, but send birthday presents to my sisters-in-law during the year.
    Good luck this year and have a Happy Judymas!

  5. My mother was a Christmas baby as well. Even as a kid people would give her one present and say “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas!” It was like she didn’t have a birthday, and it only got worse when she became a mom. In our house, your birthday was the day you got off from doing your chores. Mom gets off from cooking Christmas dinner? Yeah, right.

    I had two children with December birthdays. We acknowledged their actual birthdays in December but celebrated their half birthdays. It’s a lot easier to schedule birthday parties in June. Now that they’re adults, we went back to December.

  6. You should do “birthday week” or “birthday weekend” like we do at our house. We try to make birthdays last more than just for the day. It’s super fun!!

  7. Pingback: Birthday blues? | Everywhere I Go

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