Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 15: December Birthdays

(Originally posted December 2009.)

This is a topic with which I am somewhat familiar, since yesterday was the “big day” for me.

If my birthday falling before Christmas wasn’t enough, my parents’ anniversary was three days after Christmas, on December 28. It seemed that they were constantly going to parties from Christmas to New Year’s. And I have a daughter with an early January birthday that coincides with Orthodox Christmas. We never take our Christmas tree down until after her birthday.

So what is it like to have a December birthday? It would be interesting to ask this question of some of my ancestors who were born in December. A search of the relatives that have so far been entered in my Reunion genealogy program revealed quite a few December birthdays. There are two first cousins and two first cousins once removed. And there were a couple of direct ancestors: my great-great grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee Sr. (25 December 1808) and my great grandfather Harlston Perrin Moore (4 December 1845). Finding H. P. Moore’s date of birth on his death certificate was especially delightful; he was my first “discovery” so he is kind of a favorite.

What did Hiram and Harlston do to celebrate their birthdays? I do not know, but I imagine that it was not very elaborate; they were farmers and not especially rich ones. And if I am ever tempted to feel sorry for myself for having a December birthday, I should certainly keep my ancestors in mind.

The thing is, for me, the December birthday has almost never felt like much of a burden or loss. For my parents, however – that was probably another matter. This did not occur to me when I was younger. The first time I heard the sentence, “This present has to be both for your birthday and for Christmas,” I felt a little bit of disappointment, as though I was being cheated out of something. Maybe the second time, too. But it started to dawn on me that were my birthday and Christmas not so close together, perhaps I would not be receiving these presents at all. As I grew older, the sigh and the eye-roll when mention was made of December birthdays were pretty much an automatic response rather than a deeply felt indignation.

And you know what? In college, early December through early January was pretty much one long party. My birthday would be celebrated right before everyone went home for Christmas vacation, then at home with my mother, then with my Texas friends, and finally back at college with the friends who missed the first party. There was never any real holiday letdown.

I hope Hiram and Harlston had at least a few “very merry birthdays.”

A picture made following my one and only childhood birthday party: there probably would have been no Tiny Tears for me without the December birthday


  1. You and my sister share a birthday! I always felt sorry for her, because she never got big birthday parties since we were all getting together for Christmas soon after. My birthday is late August, so I always got something special.


  2. Oh so cute! How could you not give that girl a party every year? ;)

    I will say things are different now for my son and his friends. I had a family party every year, but I only had one "friend" party. Now THAT was a big deal!

  3. My birthday is December 28 and I have always loved it. It is funny that that is also your parent's anniversary as I actually know quite a few couples who were married that day and have spent more than a few birthdays over the years at weddings. I remember the first time it happened, I thought the cake and all the presents were for me, lol!

  4. Mine falls on the 1st of the month, but it was never a problem - I guess it was just far enough from the 25th to be on the safe side. (Grin). ATB!

  5. my birthday is on the 26th. i guess most people make a big deal out of their birthday for me it's just another day of the week. the only think i try to do all the time is make sure i take that day off. if they really want to new holiday it ought to be a law that you get your birthday off, why have someone tell you what to do all day on your day :-)

  6. My daughter has this one long celebration in her family.
    So I guess I should say not only Merry Christmas to you but an early Happy Birtday too! ;) Loving your posts.

  7. I also had a Tiny Tears - and my youngest son's birthday falls on Epiphany. Small world .. wonderful post. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I'm a Dec birthday as well! Mine is on the 20th. A lot of my gifts as a child were combo gifts as well, but I always loved it!

  9. Happy Birthday a few days late! I hope you had a great day.

  10. Jennifer - Happy belated birthday to your sister!

    Cynthia - Actually, I was really grateful when the "friend" birthday party (the types given by Mom, not the girls themselves) era was over for my girls. I realize now how much work that is!

    Leah - I have heard of quite a few late December marriages, too - interesting. If I don't remember later, Happy Birthday!

    Rusty - Yes, I think anything close to a month away from Christmas is pretty safe. Plus, it is possible to catch a few Christmas sales then, too.

    iow.research - It would be nice to take my birthday off, but you know, I don't think I have done that for the entire time I have been working. Never thought about that before....

    hummer - Thank you! I like the idea of the extended season (which, of course, is how the whole thing is celebrated in many places) - less letdown so that when it does wind up we are ready to resume "normal life."

    Cindy - We were baptized as a family the day before Epiphany, and our daughter's birthday is the next day, so that was a very special birthday year for her.

    Homestead Mommy - Isn't it nice when we come to understand the benefits we can get from those December birthdays?

    Nancy - Thank you for your birthday wishes - it was a great birthday - my husband gave me a new KitchenAid so that I can do my Christmas baking - one of my favorite gifts ever.