Today, while researching for a new article, I stumbled on a piece about Christmas Birthdays, and thought…maybe I should tell my story. Here goes!
When were you born?
On the 25th December, in the early 70s, a baby girl arrived to a couple who had been married just under two years. Ok, you don’t need a million guesses to know that baby was me.
Being born on Christmas Day can be a wonderful experience, or it can be a little strange. When people find out my birthday, I tend to get asked millions of questions.
“I bet that’s a lousy day for a birthday”
“Do people give you one present for both?”
“How do you have a birthday party when friends are with families celebrating Christmas?”
“Oh, you have only one day, when the rest of the world get two – Christmas and birthday”
That’s just a few of the many questions that I’ve been asked over the years. Usually they are asked with a sympathetic head tilt, as I smile sweetly and nod along.
I was born at 06:55am on a snowy Christmas morning. My late mum always loved to share (to everyone I hasten to add!), the story of how she was in labour for three days, and that I was a forceps delivery.
Birthday parties as a child
As a child, it took some time for me to understand why I couldn’t have a birthday party, actually on my birthday. My mum came up with an ingenious plan. I had half-birthdays.
She would always tell me I was ‘special like the Queen, as I had a birthday on a different day to my actual birthday’. Imagine that feeling as a child! It was amazing. So every June, we would have a ½ birthday. I was 6 ½ ; 7 ½ ; and so on. Plus of course it was summer and warm, so parties weren’t limited to indoors.
Parents and Presents
My parents have always respected Christmas and birthday as the two separate events that they are. My late mum was always very particular . She would never get one present for both. One great memory I have is my 40th birthday. From my parents, I received 40 presents. Yes, you read that right. 40 separate presents. Now I’m not one to rush into opening things on Christmas morning, but once this big bag of gifts appeared, I then knew why she was hurrying me along!!
My brother and I have never been massively big on gifts. When he is in Australia, he and my sister in law, find me something for my birthday. My favourite gifts have to be my Russian dolls that I always wanted. He found two. One doctor and one nurse! He also added the ‘brother and sister’ Willow Tree ornament to my collection. He’s gifted odd things here and there as I have to him. Spontaneity is much more fun.
Grandparents and trips
My grandparents (on both sides) always made sure that Christmas and birthday were separate. For my Mums parents, my brother and I were the only two grandchildren. We had a big Christmas present, such as a new bike, and some little ones. They would also treat us to ‘experiences’ and holidays. More me, than my brother, as he wasn’t as keen to go as I was. Holidays to Great Yarmouth were a favourite, and I always had my jobs to do in order to “help grandad with his caravan.”
One of the loveliest things I remember with my grandad, has nothing to do with Christmas however. Grandad, (along with my dad), spent time redecorating my bedroom. My bed was built up with storage underneath, and a desk at the end. It was done while I was at school and when I came home, it was finished.
My Dads parents had a few more grandchildren to deal with. One grandaughter and seven grandsons! While we would always get presents at Christmas, my birthday was special. When I was younger, my Nan would always treat me to an ‘experience’ for my birthday. It was time that was just mine and hers. We would go to the theatre and see different things. Apparently one year, we went to see the pantomime Snow White at the local theatre. Although I don’t really have a recollection, my Nan told me that when the Wicked Queen said she would ‘cancel Christmas’ I ran out of the theatre, crying. When she caught up with me, I thought that this meant my birthday was cancelled too.
My Nan would also take me out to buy me a dress for Christmas. It would always be something extra special, a bit more sparkly than normal. I could choose what I wanted and Nan and Grandad would treat me. Special moments and memories.
Aunt, Hair and Hamleys
My Dads youngest sister had not long turned eight years old when I was born. I always remember her telling me that I was a great Christmas present. I was like a doll that cried, needing feeding, the whole works. A real live one for her to play with.
When I was younger, my aunt made my birthday extra special. My Nan would take me to the centre of London, from East London. For a young child, that was excitement in itself. We would meet my aunt, and then the fun would start. She would take me to a London salon to have a haircut. Once we’d done that, off we went to Hamleys, where I could choose something. Then we’d have something to eat and come home.
As the years passed, we grew up, I completed my nursing training and we both were married. That closeness from a child always remained until her passing. One particular memory I have, is how the roles were reversed on one occasion. We were going to a show, and I took her for dinner. To be able to take her to somewhere like Planet Hollywoods in London, was beautiful. I can still see her strolling around with her dinner plate in her hand looking at everything.
My Husband and his Birthday
When I got married, and my late husband found himself with a Christmas wife, he made his own plans. I was always gifted a present on his birthday, which was June 15. Plus, he always looked on Christmas Day as my birthday. That was his priority.
My 50th Christmas Birthday
My 50th in 2021 came after the loss of my husband and mum. Dad and I were celebrating it together and all I can say is, my mum would have been so proud of him. He purchased the most beautiful original piece of glass art by Tina Cooper. Add into that a re-written version of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and what a 50th it was.
Why look back?
The article I found originally, had focused on the negatives of a Christmas birthday. Things such as people forgetting to wish you a happy birthday, because they’re focused on Christmas. The added stress of another event to cram into the Christmas madness. The fact that the article had centred on the unfavourable side of a December 25 birthday, made me want to look back and reflect on my birthdays. Had I had any of those negative times and blocked out the memories? So, look back I did!
My Christmas birthday was special, always has been. I can say there has never been negativity surrounding it. Of course, there were bad ones. The first birthday after losing Mark was not good at all. But as I continued to reflect , those special memories came flooding back .
As I started looking for photos to accompany the piece, I found myself smiling at old memories that came to my mind. The photographs that I had not seen in some time. It made me remember just how great my Christmas birthday is, and how special those around me make it.