Anyone who has or is a loved one of someone who has a birthday around the holidays knows that we come with a lot of baggage. My birthday is within three days of Christmas. I had a hard time as an older child feeling like my birthday was just an afterthought and additional hassle rather than something to celebrate. Many years hearing false promises of friends ready to celebrate, “just as soon as the holidays are over” does that.
Most of us in the holiday birthday club are able to let this baggage go by the end of childhood. It’s great just to be able to be here to celebrate another birthday, right!? Admittedly, it took having both my father and now husband both having birthdays within a week of Christmas to recognize the obnoxiousness of my “birthday issues.”
My issues were not the fault of my parents who tried to make every birthday special no matter my attitude. It’s kind of a running joke in my family that after so many years of complaining about the date of my birthday, I now have a son who ALSO has a birthday within a week of Christmas! Looking back, I am able to draw on many of the wonderful things they did to make my birthday special for me and hopefully be able to help my son enjoy his birthday and recognize early on how special it is to share birthdays and holidays with the people you care about the most. Here are just of few of the ways I hope to do that.
Focus on the Fun Parts
You never have to go to school on your birthday! This may not work if you have a child who wants to be at school for his or her birthday. It is fun to bring in a birthday treat to share or have the class sing Happy Birthday to you. However, there are still parts of the school day that aren’t so fun. The birthday child never has to deal with them on their actual birthday. In fact, they don’t even have to get dressed and can stay in their pajamas all day long if they so choose.
Retell the Birth Story
I loved hearing how there was a blizzard on the day of my birth. I arrived so quickly that the doctor didn’t even make it in time to deliver me. It made me feel special to know that this was such a memorable day for my family. Even if I didn’t always appreciate it, my birthday was still one of the best days of my parents’ lives.
If You Do Gifts, Give a Separate Gift for the Birthday
This may seem obvious, but I have heard many sad stories from other members of the holiday birthday club. If you wouldn’t make it a joint holiday gift for a birthday occurring another time, don’t do it now. My husband and I have a separate bank account we deposit a small amount of money each paycheck into throughout the year. This helps lessen the money crunch we undoubtedly feel at the year-end. If you do decide to join the birthday gift with another holiday present, a nice card, small token gift and/or birthday cake will still help the child feel special on the actual birthday. Something as little as birthday-themed wrapping paper really goes a long way in the eyes of a child. If you celebrate holidays with a Christmas tree, try adding a Birthday tree tradition by decorating the tree with streamers and balloons!
Stop with the “Birthday Week” Celebrations
Nowadays, birthday celebrations often seem so extravagant. If you are one of those people who celebrate your or your other children’s birthday week or month, you might reconsider that if another family member has a holiday birthday. When your birthday celebration happens during the ten minutes between your cousins opening their holiday presents and the big holiday dinner, having to celebrate another family member’s entire birthday week is just a little bit annoying. Besides, while a birthday is a wonderful thing, less extravagance means less pressure on the parents.
Help the Child Create Their Own Special Celebration
I can remember being a child and having my first friend birthday party postponed because of a winter storm. Sitting on the top of our driveway in the frigid air waiting for my friends to show up, even though my mom had already canceled with their parents. I cried so hard over that party. Other holiday obligations and exhaustion often make it hard for others to commit to birthday plans. As I got older, I finally stopped letting outside influences dictate whether or not I had a great day. Deciding what to eat for the day and what special thing I can do by myself or with my immediate family ensures my day is happy.
While many people think those of us with holiday birthdays are just a bunch of complainers (that may or may not be correct), I also know that these little things go a long way in helping a child feel loved and important on their special day.