With a birthday so close to Jesus’, it has always been hard for me to get jazzed about Christmas and Santa and caroling and decorating. And every time I tell someone my birthday -- be it at the drivers license office, filling out paperwork for overpriced health insurance, whatever – they always tell me about someone they know that has a birthday around Christmas.
Then comes the question:
“Do you get shafted with gifts? Do some people get you something for Christmas AND your birthday? That happens all the time to my friend Soandso Whatsherface. I bet that sucks.”
Christmas and birthdays are, apparently, all about gifts.
What they don’t know is that I’m not an only child. In fact, I’m about the furthest you can get from being an only child: I have four siblings. And, while the whole Christmas/birthday thing sucked, my parents tried to make up for that by giving me a gift on each of my siblings’ birthdays (sometimes two on my twin sisters’ birthday).
That eased the material pain, but there’s always been one thing that I’ve always missed out on that seems like a rite of passage for most non-Jehovah’s Witnesses: the birthday party. I’ve never had a birthday party on my birthday. (For the record, my mom tried the whole “Christmas in July” birthday party. July is during the summer, though, which means that you are not in school and half of your friends are going to be on vacation. It sucked.)
And, not unlike most self-centered American youths, I was always too busy thinking about MY birthday to really put some thought into the whole Santa ruse. Also, you kind of resent the holiday altogether since all of the nativity sets and garland around your parents house overshadow the haphazard birthday bunting and last-minute cake.
Then again, I guess you could say that I never stopped believing in Santa.
My parents still label the gifts they give their kids and kids-in-law with “From: Santa.” I guess you could say that, in a way, I never believed in him. I always knew who to thank for the packages I would hastily rip open with tags written in my father’s jaunty cursive. Even the year that all five kids ripped through the packaging to find our first-ever family computer and insufferably loud dot-matrix printer, we knew our dad was behind it.
Now that I’m older, and hopefully a little wiser, I know that birthdays and Christmas and holidays are really all the same. They’re opportunities for a day off and a chance for you to count your blessings, and trust me, I am blessed.
Joanna writes about knitting, her lovely chickens, and living in Texas at Driving Miss Dallas. She has graced the Wonju Wife for quite some time now with her great sense of humor and sweet comments.