The only Jews I’m aware of who were born on Christmas Day are Jesus and me. OK, the definitive date of Jesus’ birth cannot be exact. Nevertheless, my competition is pretty fierce. Whenever someone discovers my birthdate for the first time, his or her initial response is excitement. “Oh, you’re a Christmas baby! How special!” Sympathy immediately follows, with, “Awww, one present for both occasions.” Their belief is that I’m overshadowed by the mother of all holidays and upstaged by Santa Claus.
It’s not necessarily easier to have a Christmas birthday even though I don’t celebrate Christmas. Even though I was born on Christmas, on that day, everyone around me is celebrating everything but me. It’s a busy time of year. Yes, it’s egocentric to think the world stands still on your birthday. In our culture however, birthdays are considered important and deserving of special recognition. Yet, there is a definitive lack of attention paid to my birthdate. I don’t have a birthday I can call my own.
Sharing a birthday with Jesus has its upsides and downsides. And I know that something positive for one person can be negative for another and vice versa. So, understand that this is just my experience. Here below are the jolly and not so jolly aspects of being born on December 25th.
1) I’ll always have the day off from work or school. School is always closed for winter break. This means I get to sleep in!
2) My parents chose to forgo giving me a holiday-related name like Joy, Noelle, Holly, Mary or Virgin-ia. Phew! That last one could have been tricky!
3) The family gathers together. (This can also be a drawback!) My grandmother was born on December 26th, so I loved celebrating our birthdays together. And every year since I was a little girl, on my birthday my father plays me Barbara Streisand’s song “The Best Gift” from her Christmas album.
4) Thanks to the advent of social media, people are notified when it’s my birthday. I receive many well wishes and it pleases me to no end.
5) Kosher restaurants are open, as long as Christmas doesn’t fall on Shabbat. Legoland and Disneyland are open too, which makes my son very happy.
6) People are typically in a festive mood. Lights, decorations and cheerful music can be seen and heard practically everywhere.
1) People wish me a happy birthday as a side note on their Christmas or Hanukkah cards. SERIOUSLY! Would you add that on a Get Well card?
2) My birthday presents sometimes come wrapped in holiday-themed paper. Come on! Go find a newspaper in a driveway or recycling bin!
3) Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday combo gifts. The next time someone asks me what I want, I’ll think of something extravagant! That way I won’t be as irked when the two are merged together.
4) The DMV is closed on major holidays. I had to wait until the day after my birthday to get my driver’s license. Then again, so do other 16-year-olds whose birthdays fall on Sunday.
5) When I was growing up, my friends couldn’t come over on my birthday. They either had relatives visiting or they were out of town. My birthday parties were usually in the beginning of December.
6) People seem to never tire of saying, “Oh, you share a birthday with Jesus! (I’d like to point out that I also share a birthday with Sir Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart and Dido.)
7) My inner Ebenezer Scrooge wants to speak out shrewdly when I hear, “Merry birthday!” Feh and Bah humbug! “You must get so many presents!” REALLY? Refer to deprivation #3 on the list.
All in all, I’ve come to accept that my birthday shares the spotlight with the most- observed holiday on the Gregorian calendar. So rather than be grumpy and anti-holiday-spirited like the Grinch, I choose to be like the people of Whoville–cheery and festive. I welcome candy canes and gingerbread cookies when birthday cake isn’t available. I can admire wreaths, garlands, stockings and trees when streamers, confetti and balloons are still sitting on the shelves at the party supply store. If I don’t receive flowers on my birthday, I can appreciate Poinsettias, Holly and maybe even some Mistletoe. I get to celebrate with the whole world, even if it’s not entirely about me.