Monthly Archives: October 2013

Not so Merry Birthday

Having a baby around the holidays – what was I thinking? Obviously, I wasn’t.  Either with the planning or the execution, but there’s no walking that cat backwards.  I’m stuck with a late December kid.  On top of that, I have a husband with an early January birthday.

Craig and baby Sam.  My Merry Birthday boys!

Craig and baby Sam (circa 2000). My Merry Birthday boys!

It’s not hard to hear that collective groan – I realize I’m not alone.  Because I’m good at math, I know that approximately 1/12 of the population has a birthday that falls somewhere near Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, New Year’s Eve or one of the other 28 “winter festivals” (seriously – check Wikipedia). Everyone knows someone who has a holiday birthday.

But like many of you resourceful folks, I have a found a few ways around the extra work these birthdays bring.  Thoughts to share:

A little scary but kids like this kind of stuff.

A little scary but kids like this kind of stuff.

January birthdays are a great way to recycle unwanted holiday gifts.  Don’t care much for the moose-shaped oven mitt from your crazy sister-in-law?  Fill it with candy and give it to your kid.  How about that dashboard Jesus that was all-the-rage a couple years ago?  Pass it on to your pastor/priest/rabbi as a reminder that someone else had a birthday at Christmastime. 

Work the “combo gift” angle. Get the 8-pack of batteries and tell your daughter you upgraded from the 4-pack and it’s for both her birthday and Christmas. Same idea for your mother, buy the broom and dustpan – killing two turtle doves with one stone.

Old holiday cards work great for new birthday cards.  Just scratch out the “Peace” before . . . on Earth and replace it with “You are.”

This looks like a regular fat-old bird to me.  I don't get the "turtle" part.

This looks like a regular fat-old bird to me. I don’t get the “turtle” part.

If worse comes to worser, you can always claim that, in the midst of the holiday craze, you simply forgot the birthday and will celebrate in the near future when things settle down and you can catch your breath.  Usually the birthday girl/guy feels guilty accepting a promise from such a busy person.  Besides, it seems rude to remind someone they owe you a gift.

Now, I must mention in the vein of fairness and because my husband can be a crybaby, that there is another option.  You could possibly go out of your way to make the holiday/birthday person feel special.  Don’t re-gift.  Don’t use holiday paper instead of birthday paper.  Spend the extra $3.00 for a birthday card and make a concerted effort to make the day about the birthday and not the holiday. This does take some time and planning but as someone very close to me reminded me in a whiny voice, these are the people you love.

As with many decisions, it’s not always clear what the right choice is.  If you’re not sure how to handle this somewhat delicate issue, I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to flip a coin or roll the dice.  And if push comes to shove, you can always say Merry Birthday and call it a day.

 Lise Marinelli – author of Merry Birthday (Windy City Publishers, 2013)