It is official. I am changing my birthday. For the last 44 years, I have celebrated my birth on December 19. The reason is because I was actually born on December 19. But there has been a consistent problem over the last 44 years with that date and I am now going to solve the problem. December 19 falls six days before Christmas. Every year, my birthday occurs less than one week before the most exciting, spiritually important and potentially stressful holiday of the year.
My last birthday, for example, I stood in line at a gaming store in the mall seeking to procure a Wii. After two hours of shifting my weight back and forth, listening to my iPod and making friends in line at the store, my husband took me to the local leather store. I found myself doing the same. I shifted my weight from leg to leg and waited for him to grab a gift for our oldest son. Then, I waited a little longer as he went through the sale racks to find a must have leather jacket for himself. I distinctly remember thinking; “Hmm…this isn’t how I want to spend my birthday anymore.”
We followed the shopping with a very quick lunch at my favorite restaurant. It wasn’t a long lingering birthday lunch because there wasn’t time; there is never time on December 19! I remember thinking as I gulped down my coffee; “Hmmm…this isn’t how I want to celebrate my birthday anymore.” We hurried home to get ready for a Christmas party and pack last minute gifts to ship.
To put it bluntly, since I’ve been a grown up, its stressful having a birthday on December 19! As a child though, it wasn’t stressful to celebrate my birthday the week before Christmas, but it did have some interesting quirks! I received some combo Christmas/birthday gifts. That really didn’t bother me though I did think “If my birthday were in July, no one would give me a combo gift.” But my anxiety crept in as I became a teen and I received money for my birthday. Then, I felt compelled by the sudden provision to use that money to shop for family and friends! So, I often spent my birthday money on other people rather than a bottle of perfume or a sweater for me. Now, I will not whine. No one made me do this. I was compelled by my own sense of responsibility–see what being born on December 19 does to your psyche?! I surmise, if my birthday fell on July 19, rather than December 19, I wouldn’t have felt that compulsion.
My December 19 birthday complicates things for my friends and family too. They not only feel pre-Christmas stress, but they also feel stress because they can barely fit in a birthday call or lunch and then consequently suffer from their own guilt! I hear this on my birthday most years… “After the holidays, we will have to go to lunch to celebrate”… but, life is busy and it rarely happens, increasing the guilt of my friends. Then I feel guilty that my birth has made them feel guilty! Whew!
So, a solution is now on my calendar. My birthday is now to be celebrated on July 19. In fact, I quietly celebrated it this past July sitting at the ball field sipping a Coke! The only real problem with this solution is that I turned 45 six months earlier this year. It’s a worthy sacrifice for the reduction in stress!
I figure I’m in good company choosing my birthday to be July 19. That day over the years has been the birthday of such notables as: actress Kathleen Turner, politician George McGovern and actor George Hamilton! July 19 is also the birthday of a Russian skater and a Romanian tennis player (whose names I can't spell!)
The only competition I have for getting some attention on my new birthday is that on July 19 Cal Ripken played in his 1500 consecutive game, Pete Rose was sentenced to five months in jail for tax evasion, the Richard Nixon Library opened, and in 1941, on that day, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill launched his “V for Victory” campaign!
So today I launch my “B is for Birthday Change” campaign! From this point on, I will celebrate my birthday on July 19! Cards and phone calls are welcome, lunches and coffee are expected! Write it on your calendar and erase December 19…on that day, you can just give me a wink and a smile while you gift wrap, bake cookies, make travel plans, shop for the teacher gift you forgot, stamp your Christmas cards, find a red sweater to wear to the school Christmas play, stuff stockings , wait in long lines for the must-have gift, sip eggnog, shovel snow, order a Honey Baked Ham, dig through the gifts you received last year for the gaudiest White Elephant gift you can find to give at your office/church party and eventually collapse from all the holiday excitement--which will not include trying to celebrate my birthday!