Lost in Suburbia: Happy merry birthday to me

Tracy Beckerman

Having a birthday on a holiday can either be very cool or a real drag - depending on the holiday. 

My brother’s birthday falls on Columbus Day, which doesn’t really affect his celebration at all, except for the fact that the banks and post offices are closed so he can neither cash a check nor mail a letter on his birthday. This is not such a big deal. 

The bigger issue is that there are people who, upon learning that he is born on Columbus Day, will repeatedly ask him if he came over on the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria. This is funny the first, oh, 100 times it happens, but it can be pretty annoying after hearing the same stupid joke for 40 years. Still, it is not as annoying as the hordes of people who always ask another member of our family who is born on Groundhog Day if she saw her shadow that morning. 

My daughter’s birthday is on the Fourth of July, which is definitely one of the better holidays to have your birthday on. For years she used to think that all the fireworks and celebrations were just for her birthday.

The same is true for a friend of mine who was born on New Year’s Day. Everyone is always in a great mood at midnight when she turns a year older. Unfortunately, they are usually surly, sullen and hung over on her actual birthday the next day.

Then there’s me. I am born on Christmas Eve. 

Being a Christmas baby sounds like it would be a great thing, but it actually has a number of downsides.

First there is the inevitable Combo-Gift. This is the lame gift someone will give me that isn’t even a good single occasion gift, and yet they call it a combination X-mas/birthday gift as though that gives it some added importance and value. The truth is, a curling iron is a stinky gift, no matter what you call it - especially when you have a crew cut.

Then there is the fact that there are very few restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve. 

When I was growing up, every year we would either have my birthday dinner at a Chinese restaurant or a deli. Is it any wonder that now, as an adult, I crave egg rolls on my birthday?

I don’t really mind that my birthday presents are usually wrapped in X-mas paper or my birthday cards are often Christmas cards that have “and Happy Birthday” written on the bottom. 

I have gotten used to people at the DMV looking at my driver’s license and, upon seeing my birth date, saying, “Oh, you’re a Christmas baby. That must stink.” 

To which I say, “Not as much as standing here at the DMV having you make stupid comments about my birthday.”

All of this doesn’t really bother me so much. What bothers me about having a birthday on Christmas Eve is sometimes I get forgotten. With all the parties and hoopla, there have been times my birthday has gotten lost in the holiday shuffle. I used to get pretty upset about this but now I use it to my advantage.

Sometime after the holidays, someone will say to me, “How was your holiday,” and I will say, “Good - it was my birthday.” 

Their face will drop and they will apologize profusely for forgetting me and then they will beg for forgiveness and ask, “What would you like for your birthday?”

“Hmmm,” I will say thoughtfully. “How about an egg roll?”

To wish Tracy a happy birthday, visit her on her Web site,