opinion

The single worst thing about having a birthday in December.

December birthdays have a lot to compete with.

Yesterday I was shopping for my birthday party – I had spotted months earlier particular chocolates I wanted for my guest gift bags. I was therefore mortified to see only a few on display rather than the mountainous variety in the party colours I intended to buy in bulk.

On quizzing the store owner I was told ‘oh they are out back in storage, we move them aside for the Christmas chocolates,’. Of course they had! Because for my entire five decades on this earth my birthday has been put ‘aside’ for Christmas. I, dear readers, belong to that annually frustrated group of people whose birthday lands in the days leading up to Christmas.

Oh and it’s not the ‘one present instead of two’ that everyone thinks is our peeve, that’s the least of our concerns. It’s having to compete for loved ones time and attention to gather for a nice meal and blow out a few candles at the busiest time of the year.

I don’t have anything against Christmas, as a kid I lit the advent candle at church, as a teenager I made Christmas chocolates for the kids I taught at Sunday school and I even played Christmas Carols on my violin for my church congregation one year. It’s the parties and events leading up to it that I must compete with to plan even the simplest birthday celebration.

One of brothers ‘complained’ that my birth date was just so very inconvenient, couldn’t I just move it to June? My father, God love him, insisted in my teens and twenties that we have a nice meal out as family for my birthday – but I could see my siblings and my siblings-in-law looks of frustration of having to squeeze in another event to an already packed Christmas lead up.

One year I foolishly took the bait when my parents asked me what I would like to do and said I would love us all go see the movie Titanic.

This three hour plus epic saw a few skip the movie and only arrive for dinner afterwards. Those adult family members who did begrudgingly attend the movie, had their ticket paid for by my generous dad. I was mortified, I felt they were being bribed to participate in my birthday!

My birth had been full of stress for my parents. I was early, I was sick and I ended up being transferred on Christmas Eve by taxi in the arms of my nurse to the Royal Children’s hospital. I know this to be fact as I saw decades later the taxi receipt in my fathers tax papers for that year.

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My mother celebrated a very lonely Christmas that year because of me. Away from me, away from my dad and her three older children, with only a very bad glass of red wine to festive up her hospital Christmas dinner. My dad, along with my nana, had to visit me in the children’s hospital nursery where we occupants were ‘decorated’ for Christmas with pink and blue bows stuck on our heads.

My nana also had the stress of hosting a big family Christmas Day at her home, I am amazed she was so loving to me – I really must have created one hell of a busy Christmas that year for her.

So for this ‘0’ birthday I’ve booked a bucket list Europe destination for my actual birthday with a small party the week prior. We ‘were’ going to have a small family dinner as well, but as regular as Christmas cards I was asked to reschedule the agreed date, as shock horror, there was Christmas events that had to be attended! I love tradition and I embrace this as an integral part of my birthday tradition.

So the centrepieces are ordered, the music playlist downloaded and the chocolates, tied up with pink bows are in the gift bags ready for my December party. More importantly, my bags are packed ready for my dream, be it slightly riot themed birthday trip.

So when someone says their birthday is December 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 or omg 25! Don’t ask them about the single versus double presents, just say outright “it’s in the diary, I wouldn’t miss it for the world” just as my party guests have said this year. That alone has made it a perfect birthday.

Dedicated with love and thanks to my wonderful ‘Taxi Nurse’ Diamond Valley community hospital, Christmas Eve, December 1968, and of course the Royal Melbourne Children hospital- God bless you all.

Susan Miles is a freelance writer who specialises in travel, history and art. Follow her on Instagram for more.

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