The Rockwood Files: Merry Birthday to You

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Now that Thanksgiving is over, most people are buzzing around in a mad, wintry dash toward Christmas. But I can’t get too wrapped up in all that because I’m busy preparing for two other big events between now and December 25th – birthdays. My firstborn, Adam, will turn 7 this month and my youngest, Kate, will turn 2. Their birthdays are separated by five years and nine days.

When I first learned I was pregnant with each of them, one of my first questions for the doctor was about the due date. I was thrilled to learn it would happen around Christmastime, undoubtedly the most special time of the whole year. What surprised me was the “that’s too bad” reaction I got from some well-meaning friends who thought my unborn kid had already been given a bad break in the birthday department. I heard lots of reasons why being born in December is so unfortunate.

“He’ll always get combo birthday-plus-Christmas presents.”

“Her birthday will always be overshadowed by the holiday.”

“People will give them birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper.”

I’ll admit that sometimes these things do happen. But there are also plenty of great things about being born in December. I remember Adam as a newborn being wrapped up in a bright red Christmas stocking just before we brought him home from the hospital. We rocked him for the first time beside a twinkling Christmas tree, feeling as if we’d already been given the best, most priceless gift we could ever receive.

When I was pregnant with Kate, I felt this heightened anticipation of Christmas. Not only were we expecting Christmas, we were also expecting a new baby due just a few days before. When she arrived, we brought her home and huddled around our own little miracle – a blessing that reinforced what the holiday really signifies.

Adam and Kate celebrate birthdays in a house where all the nooks and crannies are decorated for Christmas. There’s a certain energy in the air. The kitchen is full of brightly colored tins full of Christmas cookies. And the Fed Ex truck arrives regularly bearing gifts from far-away relatives and friends. If that’s not a party atmosphere, I don’t know what is.

There are far worse things to get saddled with than a December birthday. For lots of people, it works out just fine. Along with my own little celebrities, those with December birthdays include Walt Disney, Brad Pitt, Diane Sawyer, Frank Sinatra, Emily Dickinson, Tiger Woods and Sir Isaac Newton. And if that’s not an impressive enough list, let’s not forget that sharing a birthday month with Jesus is not too shabby either.

So this is for all you birthday boys and girls who get “combo” presents. It’s for those of you tearing into a gift wrapped in snowman paper that ought to say “Happy Birthday” instead. For those people whose birthday festivities often collide with Christmas parties, parades, or holiday travel plans, I wish you a very happy birthday, filled with and surrounded by the perks that abound this time of year – good cheer, generosity, joy, faith and really good Christmas cookies. Merry Birthday to you, and a happy New Year.

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