Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On having a Christmas birthday...

Christmas is kind of a weird day.

No, really. It is the day much of the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus, who was almost certainly not born on December 25, despite the insistence of some. The preponderance of scholarship puts the birth sometime in the Spring, based on evidence in the Bible.

But, what about those who were born on December 25? How difficult is it to compete with Christmas Day and celebrate their special day on what a lot of people consider to be the special day of the year?

Some of those with Christmas Day birthdays have found a solution by celebrating their birthday on another day. My cousin Merilee, for example. She was born on Christmas Day, but when she was still living at home, her family always threw a birthday party for her on the Fourth of July. Another holiday here in the United States, to be sure, but with not nearly the same expectations and assumptions that Christmas Day carries. Oh, she got a birthday cake and presents on December 25, but there was a cake and gifts in July as well.

Not a bad deal.

Even a birthday close to Christmas can be a problem. My mother's birthday was on Christmas Eve. We always tried to make a big deal of her birthday so that she wouldn't feel shortchanged. We would get up early and go out to breakfast and give her her birthday presents in the restaurant, in order to put the celebration as far away from Christmas as possible. She always seemed content with that, but I wish we could have done more to make her special day really special and apart from the celebration of Christmas.

There are actually a lot of notable people who were born on Christmas. When I looked the day up on Wikipedia, it seemed like the list of birthdays of the famous and infamous was longer than usual, although that might just be my perception. It is an interesting and diverse list that includes Isaac Newton, in 1642, whose work in physics, mathematics, and astronomy was foundational, as well as Clara Barton, in 1821, the teacher and nurse who founded the American Red Cross.

In the entertainment world, Humphrey Bogart was born on December 25, 1899. Writer Rod Serling, who created The Twilight Zone, one of the most remarkable TV series in history, was born on December 25, 1924 (making him just one day younger than my mother). Singer Annie Lennox was born on Christmas day in 1954. And, for Doctor Who fans, Georgia Moffett who played Jenny, the Doctor's daughter in the New Who Series Four episode of the same name (and who is, in real life, the daughter of Peter Davison, who portrayed the Fifth Doctor, making her the Doctor's daughter twice over), was born on December 25, 1984.

The list of Christmas birthdays is much longer than that, but for the sake of brevity, I'll refrain from repeating more of it here. Instead, I'll just leave you with one of my favorite scenes from Casablanca, the movie Humphrey Bogart is probably best known for:

Consider it my Christmas present to you.

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