Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The December Birthday Dilemma

Last Christmas Eve, my littlest baby boy was exactly one week old. Born in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, this child was whisked along with us to intimate gatherings of family and friends night after night leading up to the holiday. He is, and will always be, my favorite-ever Christmas gift.

Out of what I'm sure was good intentions by all, BJ and I were repeatedly warned by people that having a baby so close to Christmas was not a good idea. Forgetting the fact that the child was already conceived, people either seemed to think that A) we could do something to stop the fact that our baby's birthday was going to coincide with Christmas or B) we would somehow change it if we could. Truth was, the baby-development train was already underway and going full steam, and the comments about an ill-timed birthday were frequent and disconcerting.

"Van will never really get his own birthday," they warned. "People will only give him one present and expect it to cover both occasions!" The warnings were oft repeated by friends and strangers alike. My common response became, "Well, there's nothing I can do about it now," before doing my best to change the subject. Truthfully, when BJ and I were trying to conceive each of our children, we didn't really stop to consider the timing of birthdays. All we knew was that we wanted a baby at whatever time we could get one, and wasting time didn't seem like a good idea to us. We don't regret that decision, but honestly, people had me second-guessing it when I was pregnant with little Van Owen.

Ironically enough, the people who seemed to think that the coincidence of Christmas and Van's birth wasn't an issue worth worrying about were the people whose birthdays are in December. Each time a person happened to tell me that his or her birthday was in mid-to-late December, I eagerly pounced with questions about if she enjoyed the timing of her birthday, if he chose to celebrate half-birthdays, etc. Of all the people I asked questions, only two people told me that they hated that their birthdays were so close to Christmas (one was actually on Christmas Day and the other was weeks before Christmas).  The rest treated the subject nonchalantly, indicating that their parents had done well to make them feel special on their special day regardless of Christmas, or that they had good friends who never lumped the two holidays together present-wise. Some liked the festivities of Christmas and felt it made their birthdays better. Personally speaking, my birthday is exactly two weeks after Christmas and I always loved it. Everything I wanted that I didn't get for Christmas, I got instead for my birthday! I pointed this out to BJ, but we thought that the proximity to Christmas may be different for people whose birthday actually falls in the Christmas season.

I was dilated to 4 centimeters by Thanksgiving, so there was the thought that Van might not be a Christmas baby after all. However, he took his time and decided that his birthday should be December 17, so a Christmas season baby was had! I found this to be the coziest, most wonderful thing I could have imagined. Middle-of-the-night feedings were done by the light of the Christmas tree, which we both gazed at afterward. Friends and family from far away were naturally gathered for the holidays, so everyone got to meet and greet our little guy when he was still tiny. Van had his own stocking, and Christmas carols last year were particularly sweet with him in arms.

Christmas-tree gazing at 4AM
Each of my little boys has a special song that I have chosen just for him. The songs were selected because I listened to them a lot during the time that my babes were newborns, and hearing the lyrics and melodies take me back to those sweet days. For Silas, it was The Decemberists' "Crane Wife 1," mostly because the lyrics described exactly how I felt about him.  For George, I chose the Fun song "We Are Young" because it was played on TV commercials in the afternoons when I cuddled him on the couch in our bedroom while we both dozed. When Van was born, the selection was easy. To my greatest Christmas gift of all time, I would bestow my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song: Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire). It's a perfect fit.

 This year as the cold weather comes rolling in and my favorite holidays of all draw near, I will be eager to celebrate my son's birthday as I also celebrate Christmas. His very identity is part-Christmas to me, and I think it always will be that way.  Just this year, in the only year that I will choose his birthday theme for him, we'll have ourselves a rompin' Rudolph Christmas bash to celebrate the second-best guy ever born at Christmas. "Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe (and a sweet-smelling baby) help to make the season bright."

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