Before the days of debit cards, when I carried my checkbook for retail transactions, there were four words I could be absolutely certain of hearing as I handed over my driver’s license and the cashier saw the birth date:

“Oh! A Christmas baby!”

The next words would nearly always be something along the lines of either “How wonderful!” or, more often, “You poor thing!”

Both of those sentiments were correct.

As a first-born child, and the first grandchild on both sides of the family, my birth was already eagerly anticipated. When I arrived on Christmas Day, there was jubilation. My granddaddy joked that I came in a Christmas stocking, and always told me I was the best present he ever got. My Uncle Larry told me that when he saw the nurse carrying me, he thought I was the prettiest baby he’d ever seen.

I later learned that he was 12 at the time. I was the only baby he’d ever seen.PeggyW

When I was young I thought being born on December 25 was terrific. By elementary school days, I realized that a Christmas birthday is definitely a mixed blessing. My friends got birthday cakes on their birthdays. If I ever had one when I was young, I sure can’t remember it. Milk and cookies were set out on Christmas Eve, but they were gone by the time I awoke on Christmas morning (no matter how early), so I don’t think they were for me.

And how many parents want to take their kids to a classmate’s birthday party on Christmas Day? (Answer: none).

Many cashiers over the years asked me, “Wasn’t it tough only getting one present a year?” What kind of stingy relatives did they have? I was always quick to defend my family. They were never so chinchy as to give one combination birthday-Christmas gift. There was always a separate birthday present.

It was just that it was often wrapped in holiday paper.

There were definitely pluses to being a Christmas baby. I never once had to go to school on my birthday. In fact, I didn’t have to go back to school until the new year! When I was old enough to have a job, I never once had to work on my birthday. For weeks before, houses and stores were gaily decorated, folks were generally happy, there was lots of good food, and there was beautiful music at church.

But the Christmas that I turned 16, the only person who told me happy birthday was the boy down the street. Not a single person in my family remembered to say it. I did feel rather sorry for myself that year.

When Kyle Rote, Jr. played for the Dallas Tornado soccer team, a news article about him mentioned that his birthday was Christmas Day. A revelation! There were other people who were Christmas babies! I had never met another person born on December 25. And, wonder of wonders, he was born in the same year that I was. Kyle might never know me, but we were connected.

I wondered if he got birthday cakes.

I considered organizing a support group. “Born on Christmas Day? Tired of being overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the season? Join Christmas Babies Anonymous (since we might as well be…)”
Kyle and I could be charter members.

Over the years my perspective has changed, and I appreciate my Christmas birthday more than ever. I feel blessed to have been born on the day that Christians everywhere celebrate the birth of Jesus. I can’t imagine a more wonderful way to begin my birthday than to be in church, singing “Joy to the World” with people I love.

I recently asked Uncle Larry if he could remember anything else about the day of my birth. “I do remember that it was a great Christmas,” he responded. “I got a catcher’s mitt (YEEE-HAAA).” I asked my mom the same question. “I don’t really remember much about it. After all, it was nearly 60 years ago.”

Birthday or not, you can always count on your family to keep you grounded.