The joy of holiday birthdays
Mild concern among parents about a child born in December is normal, I suppose.
There’s the competition with holiday festivities, two-in-one gifts from relatives, budgets stretched a little thin for dream-making celebrations at the American Girl doll cafe or the ever-loving institution that is Chuck E. Cheese.
But the December baby anxiety seems to be worse these days. I blame this on two things. First, the holiday season starts in like September and it’s bigger, louder, longer and flashier than ever before, culminating in a collective nervous breakdown in the 12th month. Second, today’s parents — me included — tend to over-perfect the art of childhood. We drink the “good old days” Kool-Aid and embrace a “play ‘til the street lights come on” mentality. But, in reality, we struggle to maintain that level of chill.
Folks, I’m here to put your minds at ease and increase your chill factor by a thousand.
I am a December baby. And I love it.
Did I get combo Christmas, Hanukkah and birthday presents? I did. From anyone other than very distant relatives who were a surprise to hear from anyway? Not really.
Did I feel overshadowed by the holidays? Not at all. In fact, I still love that my birthday month is basically one big party.
Everyone is up for fun. Nobody is doing the Whole 30. The world is a fairy tale of fresh white snow, choirs, glitter and lights.
In December, people are family-forward, reflective, spiritual, decorative and celebratory. They reach out, they invite you places, they bake, pop bubbly, throw an extra log on the fire and sing.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, for crying out loud.
As a child, I used to ask to do something seasonally festive on my birthday — trim the tree, bake the cookies, throw together a gingerbread house, tune in to Rudolph.
Speaking of those corny holiday specials, recent research informed me that A Year Without a Santa Claus debuted just as I was coming into the world. I thrill at the thought of my mom pushing to the sounds of Heat Miser and Snow Miser singing their classic battling duet on a crackling old hospital TV: “I’m too much!”
I mean … come on! The perks of being a December baby are endless.
Truth be told, the only way in which my December birthday has caused conflict is as a merry-making mom. Parents so often forget to take care of themselves, giving all the free time — and even the biggest piece of cake — to the offspring. In the budget-stretching, carb-loading, calendar-filling whirlwind of the season, I occasionally find myself thinking, “Meh. We don’t really need to do anything for my birthday this year.”
And then I snap out of it. It’s a part of the season. It’s another year of life! My parents never let the holiday hubbub steal my thunder.
And that’s just it: You can worry about the December birthday. But if that’s when your child is born, you really have no choice but to embrace it — with a tree, with a menorah or a 100% jingle-bell-free Pinkalicious party.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey or roast chestnuts? Your kid will let you know which he prefers. Either way, people show up to December ready to party. There’s magic in the air, fudge and fondue, that little boy running through the airport in Love Actually with his heart ready to burst.
It’s a beautiful time to be born.
Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two who lives in St. Paul.