Did you ever give your kids a sibling for Christmas or their birthday? Do members of your family have birthdays on holidays or during the holiday season?
Out of my 5 kids, we've got a birthday just before Thanksgiving (but never on it), one at the beginning of December, and one the day after Christmas. My brother and sister-in-law have two small children and their birthdays are Valentine's Day and the day before that. In the family of 6 that I grew up in, we had 4 birthdays within 8 days, fortunately not during any major holidays.
I could go on, but won’t. I suppose you can name your own family members who came home in stockings or the mom served birthday cake to one child while in early stages of labor for another.
So you know you are in for years of shared birthday parties, weeks where leftover birthday cake is served with each meal, and presents that are for “your birthday and Christmas” followed by an entire year before getting another gift.
When you’re the parent, you’re in the position (at least with a new baby you are—you’ve only got a few years before you better have the pattern set or let the child be in control) to set precedents. But how do you know how it will work out in the years to come? You don’t, but here are some challenges we’ve had and ways we’ve dealt with them.
Our first child was born the day after Christmas. Christmas is a wonderful time to have a baby, as long as you're not trying to do everything else moms typically try to do at Christmas, too. But you can't help but spend some of that newborn holding time reflecting on the birth of our Savior. And the song "The Best Gift" has extra meaning for me.
We decided when he was very young to celebrate his half birthday (which, ironically, later turned out to be two days after our next child’s birthday). Presents and sweets the day after Christmas were too anticlimactic, and we wanted a chance to give him things to enjoy in the summer, too. Besides, as a mom, I didn’t feel like I could put Christmas on and put a birthday celebration on the next day in the way I would like. Some parts of growing older that come with specific ages still happen on his birthday, of course, like getting his driver’s license, but the cake and gifts and parties are in June. We opted him several times through the years if he would like to celebrate on his actual birthday, and he never has.
We still recognize his actual birthday, but we’ve developed our own tradition of going on that day as a family to see a movie in the theater (a rare treat for us) and letting him pick a place for us to eat out. This lets us recognize his special day while getting us out of the house (which feels great after a day all home in pajamas) and gets me out of the kitchen, which I have always spent way too many hours in by then. Some of the treats from stockings usually get eaten during the movie. I probably look forward to his birthday as much or more than he does.
Our other December birthday is early in the month, too far from the actual holiday to justify the half birthday thing. He offset the disadvantage of having his birthday during the holiday season by requesting that his birthday presents be put under the Christmas tree—and then on his birthday he gets to open them all! (Obviously, no Christmas presents are placed under the tree until after his birthday).
We also hang those two, extra wide stockings that they came home from the hospital in, courtesy of kind, anonymous souls, in a special place in our home as part of the Christmas decor.
Really, kids often don’t know they are at a disadvantage unless someone tells them they are. When we pointed out the fun of spending her entire birthday in the back of the van squished between two big brothers driving to Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving, our daughter thought she was so lucky! (Your dream day, right?) Of course, she did get to open a present every couple of hours, and for dinner we went out to eat to celebrate, of course.
My birthday was the last of the 4 in the 8 day span while I grew up, but I never felt slighted. I always thought it was fun and that it made us a little unique. My mom always made each of our favorite cakes, and several of us did end up with weight issues, I don’t know if that’s related. I remember birthday parties and such, and I felt cherished. Of course, I don't remember thinking that it was probably a lot of work and perhaps stress for my mother. I don't think I'm as good at dealing with stress.
What do you do (or try to do) to help your holiday or shared birthday celebrations not be too taxing on mom, but make the child feel special?