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Confessions of a Christmas Baby

I don’t possess any superhuman powers, but I was born on December 25, Christmas Day.

Yup, I share my birthday with St. Nicholas, Santa and Jesus. My name, Natalie Noel literally means “Christmas Day Christmas” in French, for which I was named.

When this quirky birthday fact is discovered by strangers or even friends, the responses I typically hear sound like the same remarks I would expect from someone who just discovered I had the power to fly, “Wow, your birthday is Christmas?!? What’s that like?”

Well, it’s my life, that’s what it’s like (but seriously, it is sometimes different).

According to one data set, a Christmas birthday is the least common birthday of all calendar days, even more uncommon than being born on a leap day. One might think this means I’m some type of birthday unicorn, but the reality of my extra-unusual birth date looks more like this: everyone assumes that Christmas music is my favorite genre and red and green must be my most-loved colors (they are not). So without sounding like a real scrooge, I’m here to lay bare the truth about Christmas (and December) birthdays.

In short, having a holiday birthday is an oddity that feels both special and unique, but also is simultaneously overshadowed year after year. Despite this, a holiday birthday can still outshine any regular old birthday that the rest of the world celebrates to mark the passing of another year. I’m excited to explain how!

Here are the GOOD, the BAD and the OTHERS of sharing a birthday with a date the rest of the world also celebrates, but for different reasons than your birth …

THE GOOD

I’m never alone on my birthday.

I never gave out birthday treats to my classmates on my actual birthday because school was always closed for winter break. I have yet to have a birthday party on my actual birthday because who wants to leave their family on Christmas to celebrate anything other than Christmas? But, as my focus has shifted from birthday parties to quality time with loved ones, I cherish the fact that I am never alone on my birthday. Whether I share the day with my family, close friends or my siblings, I am always with the people closest to me for Christmas, which also happens to mean I am celebrating my birthday with them as well!

I typically don’t work on my birthday and neither do my loved ones.

Excluding the one year I worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while serving as the weekend sports anchor for a small market TV station in Wisconsin, I have never had to work on my birthday. It’s wonderful to start the day with few obligations and spend quality time with family members who also typically have the day off from work!

  

THE BAD

I miss out on most birthday freebies.

I’ve never had a free birthday dinner at any restaurant offering special meals on your special day. You know all those wonderful benefits of signing up for the reward clubs at your favorite coffee shop, restaurant or salon – the ones where you get a FREE amenity on your birthday? I’ve never gotten any of those. Either the establishments are closed on Christmas or the deal requires that you must physically redeem your reward on the date of your birthday. Few exceptions are made for Christmas babies in my case.

Turning 21 was hilarious and depressing.

I insisted on marking my 21st birthday by physically presenting my new ID paperwork to a bouncer at an actual bar that served alcohol. It was a milestone I felt so strongly about, that I dragged my older sister and brother-in-law along with me to a bar on Christmas Eve at midnight. The excitement wore off as soon as I took my first-and-only celebratory shot: We were in a bar, on Christmas Eve, surrounded by other less-celebratory souls who were trying to escape the stresses of too much family time or who had no other family and sought refuge in a bar. This was a mistake I didn’t make again.

Christmas countdowns are fun, unless you don’t want to think about your age.

All those cheery store displays of “X days until Christmas” or “X Saturdays left before Santa arrives” may as well be huge red signs reminding me of the clock ticking down on yet another year. What I read in my own mind is more like, “In just X days, you will have one less year left on this earth.” Sounds extreme, I know, but if you randomly walked into a store that had a sign gleefully touting how many days left until your next birthday, you might be surprised at how aware it suddenly made you feel about your age. Or, it could just be me.

THE OTHERS

No, I don’t get double presents. Yes, I would love birthday paper, not Christmas paper.

As a child, my extended relatives would do a “combo” gift along the lines of “Merry Birthday!” To top off the 1-gift-for-2-celebrations theme, that gift would be wrapped in red and green Christmas paper. These days, I don’t count my gifts or really care if I receive any, but I want to dispel the fallacy that Christmas birthdays receive double presents. We do not. Or rather, I did not, and if you are a family who gives double gifts to your Christmas child, I would love to be adopted into your tradition! To be honest, my parents got this area right and made sure my husband continued the tradition: separate gifts, separate paper, an actual birthday cake. To this day, on Christmas Day we take a moment (however brief) to recognize my birthday with the happy birthday song, I open an actual birthday card and blow out candles on a non-Christmas cake. It’s not the gifts that matter anymore, but the thoughtfulness of recognizing my birthday amidst the greater celebration of Christmas, that makes this gesture so sweet.

Showing my ID always guarantees a response.

When I hand over my I.D. for the purpose of validating my identify, 99.9% of respondents make the same predictable observation, “Oh, a Christmas baby, huh?” As unoriginal as that question may be, I can’t say that my response is any better. These days, I typically smile and say, “Yes! It’s crazy to think I share the same birthday with someone as famous as … Justin Trudeau (another fellow Christmas birthday, look it up).” Oh yes, and Jesus, too, we share that all-important date as well.

Celebrating in July feels wrong and weird.

“Why not just celebrate your half birthday in July if a Christmas birthday is so hard?” This is a question I’ve been asked more than once, but I just can’t get comfortable with picking a day 6 months before my actual birthday and asking those close to me to celebrate my birthday on this fabricated date. Also, none of the birthday freebies are given out on a fake half-birthdate, so at the end of the day, I still miss out on the free coffee, meals and drinks. I’ll keep my super-rare birthday, and tell myself that the rest of the world is celebrating with me.

Chances are you may know someone with a December birthday, and my sole wish is that you make their day or even their month, by paying special attention to the fact that they have an identity apart from the holiday season. Something as simple as sending a text on their actual birthday and wishing them a happy day, can mean more than even a card or small gift because it shows you thought of them in the midst of your celebration.

Have a very merry Christmas and remember those who are celebrating a birthday during the holidays!

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