On Christmas Day 2005, I was mistaken for Santa Claus. I was pregnant, one week past my due date, and as big as a whale. The previous night there had been unusual activity on the part of the baby, and knowing that our own OB/GYN was on call at the hospital, we decided to go in on Christmas morning to be checked out. After I’d spent some time hooked up to various monitors and gadgets, the verdict was that I should be induced.
I suspect that the baby was fine, but that my hubby-to-be had a quiet pleading word with the doctor (“Pleeeeeeease, Doctor! You’ve gotta get this baby out of her! She’s so big that she’s taking up all the space in the bed, and she’s been behaving like an antichrist for the last two weeks!)
And so, on that snowy Christmas morning, I found myself drinking bad tea in the hospital cafeteria, hooked up to a portable IV unit, while a kid on the other end of the room pointed at me and excitedly yelled to his father, “Daddy! There’s Santa! Santa’s a GIRL!!!”
OK, the kid had a point. It was Christmas Day, I had an extremely large belly, I was wearing a bathrobe that happened to be red, and in the spirit of the season, I had put on a Santa hat. I know how I must have looked. You’d think Santa would have better things to do on Christmas Day than wander around a hospital with an IV stuck in his arm, but hey, stranger things have happened.
Later that day, after a relatively brief but extremely intense labour during which I loudly (and with some profanity) trashed Eve for eating the apple in the Garden of Eden and thereby dooming womankind to agonizing childbirth, my secondborn son, James, came flying into the world like a cannonball. As Christmas presents go, nothing will ever top that one.
Five years down the road, I still haven’t quite come to grips with this question: how do you appropriately celebrate the birthday of a child born on Christmas Day? I mean, it’s not like he has the same birthday as, say, John Lennon or Bill Clinton. The kid shares a birthday with Jesus.
We thought we had the answer in the very first year, aided by the traditions of my fiance’s family. Since the family Christmas dinner happens on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself is wide open. What we would do, we decided, was split the day in half. In the morning, we would all open Christmas presents. After lunch we would switch to birthday mode and the rest of the day would belong with James. We would give him his birthday presents, and we would have a cake with candles. The party would happen sometime during the summer when the weather was nice.
It has turned out to be more of a balancing act than we had thought. Because of the late night on Christmas Eve, the grown-ups in the house tend to have a slow start on Christmas morning (the kids, of course, are up and at their Christmas stockings sometime around sunrise). By the time we get around to the presents under the tree, it’s late morning, and by mid-afternoon we’re so stuffed full of turkey that we cannot face the thought of birthday cake. That leaves us with a very narrow slice of the day to devote to James’ birthday.
Then there’s the issue of the birthday party. As it turns out, birthday parties in the middle of the year for a child born at the end of the year don’t work out too well. It’s confusing for the kids and distressing for the birthday boy, who is too young to associate two events that are six months apart. Besides, it presents me with the problem of how many candles to put on the cake. Last year, we experimented with the concept of a joint birthday party for both of our boys in September, the month of our older son’s birthday. It was a mixed success – probably as good as it could have been considering that one birthday boy has autism and one is neurotypical.
So now, with that time of year upon us again, we are looking at adjusting the Christmas/birthday formula. Instead of trying to cram Christmas and birthday celebrations into the same day, we are going to let it all spill over into Boxing Day. The kids will get their Christmas stockings in the morning, and that will keep them happy for a while. Christmas presents under the tree will be opened in the afternoon. Birthday presents will be divided in half. The first half will be given to James in the evening, with the second instalment to follow on the morning of Boxing Day. The cake will be saved for Boxing Day as well.
By the time you read this, it will all be a done deal, and I will tell you how it went.
The birthday party will be at the end of January. It will be just a month or so after the actual birthday, everyone will be over the Christmas madness, and people will be looking for an excuse to break up the dreary part of winter.
My fiance jokes that he asked me to have the baby on Christmas Day because it was the only day he could take off work. Me, I just want to make sure my little guy’s special day is duly recognized.
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Kirsten Jessiman of Toronto, Canada. Kirsten can also be found on her blog, Running for Autism.
Photo credit of Kirsten’s “Christmas Baby” to Kirsten Jessiman.