Thursday, December 22, 2011

True Confessions of a Christmas Baby

This year, I'm proud to be a part of the 2011 Advent Tour, an annual event where book bloggers share a little something about their holiday celebrations with the rest of us. Some people are talking about food, some are talking about music, some are talking about books ... it's a feast of random holiday goodness. Dig in!

When people learn that I was born on December 22, they always ask, "Don't you just hate having a birthday at Christmastime?" The truth is, no, I don't. As a matter of fact, I love it. This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Not only has the desert heat finally faded, but all the houses are lit up with lights and festive decorations. People are nicer, hearts are gladder, and everything feels brighter during the holiday season. Focusing on Christ means our thoughts shift away from ourselves, toward others. That spirit of loving, of giving, permeates the air, making life more joyful, if only for a little while. My birthday falls smack-dab in the middle of all the festivity. What's not to love about that?

Because I was born so close to Christmas, my wonderful father, mother and mother-in-law all started fun traditions to help celebrate my birthday:

Daddy/Daughter Dates

[Imagine a cute vintage photo of me and my dad here. I can't find the darn picture anywhere, so you'll have to use your imagination ...]

Not only did I make my arrival at Christmastime, but I timed it just right: I was born on my dad's 37th birthday. Partly because of this, we developed a very special bond, one I treasure to this day. Growing up, my dad and I always had dinner out on our birthday, just the two of us. Even now, whenever we're in the same place on the 22nd, we head to a favorite restaurant for precious one-on-one daddy/daughter time. Since we live in different states, most years we have to make do with cards and phone calls, but I still relish the memories of all our dinners together (even the one at Skipper's, where I ended up vomiting my fish and chips all over the carpet). Happy birthday, Dad!

The Nutcracker

I first saw the beloved ballet when I was a kid. I'm not sure how old I was (8 maybe?), but I remember sitting in the theater feeling incredibly grown up in my dress clothes. The performance unfolding on stage mesmerized me. Everything - from the music to the costumes to the graceful dancing - kept me captivated. To commemorate the occasion, my mother bought me my first nutcracker. He's a little beat up now, but every time I look at that wooden soldier, I'm taken back to the moment I first experienced The Nutcracker. Almost every year since that time, my mother has given me a nutcracker for my birthday or Christmas. I've got soldiers and snowmen and Santas and bakers and elves and Josephs and Marys and all of them make me smile because of the memories that come rushing in whenever I look at them.

I'm continuing the tradition of attending The Nutcracker (almost) every year with my oldest daughter (my youngest isn't quite old enough yet). Seeing my little girl's eyes light up with delight the first time she beheld the great ballet made the pricey tickets worth every penny. Her joy taught me a simple truth: Christmas is about wonder. Which is why I decorate my house with nutcrackers every December - to add the magic of warm memories to our annual celebration of Christ's birth, the greatest wonder of all.

Snow Village

One year, my MIL took me to a holiday boutique in Scottsdale, where we looked through a display of houses and accessories from Department 56's Original Snow Village collection. I fell in love with these warm, happy Christmas scenes. My MIL bought me my first village piece that year as a birthday gift. Each year since, she's given me a new house or accessory. I've now got a whole city of buildings, which I place in various spots throughout my home to lend a quiet, glowing charm to our holiday decor. While I love my village for its quaint beauty, what really makes it special is what each piece represents - the time my MIL took out of her busy schedule to thoughtfully select a gift for my birthday.

So, what do you think? Can you come up with one reason why I should hate my Christmas birthday? Because I can't. Not a single one. It's a day filled with tradition, memories and happiness. And Olive Garden (thanks to my husband). And Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (my kids' contribution). It's a day stuffed full of my favorite things, all because of my favorite people. I ask you again, what's not to love?

5 comments:

  1. I have a birthday at Valentine's Day (which is, of course, a significantly smaller holiday than Christmas, but still...) and I loved sharing my birthday with a holiday, too.

    And it sounds like you're family has created awesome ways to make sure you and your day aren't lost and that you know that they love you, which is the most important thing.

    Happy birthday!

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  2. Happy Birthday, Susan! I'm glad to have known you for so many years now (17 now, yikes we're old!).

    Hope you have a fabulous birthday and that all the Jensens have a very merry Christmas. Let's get together soon.

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  3. How very cool that your loved ones found ways to make your birthday a special occasion that incorporates all the wonder - as you so nicely put it - of Christmas. My best friend's birthday is the 23rd. My other friends' twins birthdays are also the 23rd. I've always gone out of my way to give them birthday gifts wrapped in birthday - not X-Mas - paper. Now, my mom's birthday is mid-January. No one ever had any money left for her present or a party after X-Mas. So she always felt overlooked. But since they created MLK Day, she now always gets her b-day off from work so that's something ;0) Happy happy birthday to you - enjoy the Reese's!

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  4. Happy birthday Susan! And thanks for such a fabulous post as part of the advent tour.

    I must confess to being envious of your Daddy/daughter dates as my dad lived a long way when I was growing up and even now is emotionally distant!

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  5. Sprite - It's fun, isn't it? Makes both occasions even more festive.

    Tara - Thanks! Has it really been 17 years? Wow. And yes, we DO need to get together soon :)

    The Bumbles - My MIL is also adamant about using birthday - not Christmas - wrapping paper for December birthdays. I don't care either way, but it's a very thoughtful gesture on her part. And on yours :)

    Marg - I'm fortunate to have incredible parents with whom I've always been close (emotionally, anyway, as I haven't lived in the same state as them since I graduated from high school). I'm sure I don't even realize how lucky that makes me!

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