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The Horror of Holiday Birthdays

Two kids. One birthday. Seven days before Christmas...

My dad’s birthday is December 30th.  Exactly five days after Christmas and one day before New Year’s Eve. Which means, for his entire childhood and adult life, the poor man has been getting screwed.

No separate party in his honor. No expensive gifts. Nobody taking a special trip just to see him on the day he was born. The man is lucky if we throw candles on a fruitcake and sing to him, or toast him with our New Year’s champagne.

Sucks to be born so close to a major holiday.

But ever since the birth of my twins, I finally feel my Dad’s pain. Jack and Nina came into this world on December 18th -- exactly a week before Jesus’ birthday. That first year was amazing. They were my Christmas babies. A joyous double gift from God above.

Plus, that Christmas Eve I was still recovering from C-section war wounds, which delightfully rendered me a guest in my own house for the feast of the seven fishes. All I had to do was breastfeed and sip Cosmos (not at the same time, silly. I was nursing twins and only have two hands), while my Mom and family did all the cooking, cleaning and heavy lifting. Ahhh. Heaven.

Fast forward several years to kids who are actually awake on their birthday and I’ve come to realize how much its proximity to the holidays sucks. TIMES TWO!!!

It’s bad enough having to exert extra effort during the most exhausting time of year so one child never feels the pain my dad felt. But, nooooo. I have to do this for two children. A boy and a girl. So it’s not like the cake can be all princesses or race cars. And I can’t just find one gift and double it.

Those of you with triplet holiday birthdays, hats off to you. I agree. It sucks even worse to be you. Unless your kid are all the same sex. Then, I still think I win the suck pool.

Unlike my Dad, my kids don’t get gypped on the birthday gifts. Quite the opposite. They get tons of loot from four grandparents, a slew of aunts and uncles, not to mention all their friends. It’s like having Christmas the week before Christmas. Awesome for them. And, lucky me! I get to sweep up all the shredded wrapping paper, find room to fit all their b-day cards on any open inch of shelf space not already filled with Christmas cards, and figure out where to stash all the new toys, so I can make room for even more new toys when we repeat this whole thing a week later.

Smart, together, buttoned-up moms would’ve cleaned out the toy room a month prior in preparation for the onslaught of new board games, dolls, cars and crap. But, me, I was busy Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating, and, oh yeah, celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving. With some laundry, cooking and working slipped in just for fun.

And, aside from the twins’ birth year, where the festivities were limited to them sleeping and my Mom dressing them up like Santa’s elves, Jack and Nina have actually had actual, bonafide, non-holiday birthday parties. Though, for their 1st birthday, I decorated their cake with gingerbread people. And, for their 2nd, I used holiday snowmen as cupcake holders. But, whatever. It’s not like I wrapped their gifts in Christmas paper. At least, I don’t think I did. The twin thing has made everything a blur.

Obviously, planning a birthday party during the holidays is no picnic. Just getting folks to show is a major feat. But winter adds other challenges. Unlike my oldest son Luke who so thoughtfully arrived in June, enabling us to host his fetes outdoors, the twins get all whiny. It’s either: “Why can’t we have a pool party like Luke?” Or “It’s cold out! Why can’t we eat this ice cream inside?”

So I either have to deal with everybody traipsing through my home, trashing the place right before I host Christmas Eve, or I have to have their party offsite. Truthfully, I’m not really a fan of the whole rent-a-venue trend for kids’ birthdays. All these bouncing, bowling, spa-ing, pottery painting and build-your-own bomb parties have gotten way out of hand.

In my day, a birthday party consisted of a lopsided, homemade cake and a couple of cousins playing pin the tail-on-the donkey in my kitchen. One year, my cousin’s dog walked all over my cake. My mom smoothed out the paw prints with a spatula and served it anyway.

But, see, the holiday birthday thing has forced my hand. I’d rather farm out the festivities, succumbing to everything I think is wrong with America, than have to vacuum twice in the same week. The twins have celebrated at Funtime America, Look What I Can Do, and, this year, Monster Mini Golf.

Actually, only Jack did the mini golf because, believe it or not, the twins finally got separate parties! Not my idea, trust me. But I won a princess birthday party at a school gift auction and since I only have one girl, the Christmas twin got it.

I convinced my husband to take Jack and a few friends out for the day so he wouldn’t feel left out, poor baby, while his sister had a once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza catered in the comfort of her own home. I know. I caved. But I figured since the thing was being hosted by a party professional, it would be no work for me and everything would be under control. Right?

Wrong.

Morning of the party, I find out the Princess Party Woman was still stuck in the NIC Unit with her newborn baby. (I will now be going to hell for admitting I doubted her story. But I checked it out on Facebook and it was true. And the baby is now fine).

But enough about her. I had ten girls coming over in 2 hours, and zero things for them to do. My dreams of drinking Bloody Mary’s with my two best friends who I never get to see while someone else entertained our kids went up in a puff of birthday candle smoke. Ouch. But I rallied hard, sent some texts, and got my niece, sister-in-law and babysitter to come do the girls make-up, hair and nails.

Nina had a blast. It was probably better than the party package that fell through. But guess who got to vacuum up all the glitter?

Jack loved having his own special day out with the boys too. Glad they enjoyed it because that’s the last time I’m planning separate parties. And, from now on, we’re celebrating their birthdays early. Like the first week in December. Or maybe on Thanksgiving. Stick some candles in the bird?

Ooh, maybe we’ll do a Christmas-in-June theme, and combo their birthday with their brothers’ for a triple shingdig. Then they can finally have a pool party. And all I’ll have to do is order pizza and wash a load of towels….

Maureen Farrell Del Rio January 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM
My birthday is the same day. I know how he feels.
Christina Warren January 16, 2012 at 02:05 PM
My youngest's birthday is December 18th! A recent Happy Birthday to you. And we just went to the museum last weekend to celebrate. Granted I only have one. The holiday birthdays are horrible! We have sometimes celebrated his HALF birthday during the summer with friends and did the family thing in the winter. It gave him a chance to have an outside party, and have you ever seen 20 exhausted kids at once? It's rare but great. I'm really big on themed parties. Once I lined my whole living room with plastic and had 22 kids make gingerbread houses as their party favors! They bring home all the candy and you wrap up the floor like a dirty tablecloth. I feel your pain. Call if you need help! I can make a mean characture cake!
Michelle Sassa January 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Thanks Christina. Love the gingerbread house activity! I think i will do that next year. Party solved. And we can stick candles in their houses to sing to them! After all, gingerbread IS cake. sort of...
Christina Warren January 17, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I can't believe I forgot to mention the best part! I have taught my kids the joy of cleaning their rooms prior to holidays and birthdays. They sort through their rooms and pick out the things they haven't touched for the last six months. Toys and clothes. Broke goes in garbage and the rest goes into boxes. Dad takes a Saturday morning and brings them to Collingswood Auction. The green tables are only $7 each and we are usually done by 11am. Once they see the money they're hooked. Dad watches the kids, kids sell the stuff and make money and Mom has a room prepped for new toys. Win, win, win situation. My boys sell twice a year now, at their request.
Shannon K. Winning January 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Christina that is a great idea. My kids always want to sell their junk and I think, ugh, a garage sale, too much work and who would buy this stuff anyway? but collingswood is looking like the answer. Thanks for the tip!

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