My eldest child was due on Christmas day; he is forever wrapped in the holidays to me. That said, I recognize his birthday falls toward the end of the beautiful chaos that is the holiday season. So while I can hardly separate memories of anticipation and his birth from the holidays I also make effort to appreciate just him.
As his birthday is in the last week of December, we often postpone birthday celebrations until the still quiet of January comes along. This allows us all a deep breath both to make each celebration uniquely special, and also to split up the overwhelming and indulgent feelings often associated with gifting this time of year.
Setting the birthday apart for you may be easiest by days or weeks, or even just later in the day of holiday celebration. If you can’t coordinate schedules with family and friends during everyone’s holiday busyness, set the birthday apart as much as possible. I’ve even heard of families removing Christmas ornaments from their tree and putting up birthday decor on the tree instead. You can also just save the cake for later in the day, as opposed to with all the other desserts, as a way to remove the holiday spirit from your child’s birth celebration.
You may find it important to distinguish between holiday and birthday gifts. While gifting expectations is often a sensitive topic (for any number of reasons), if gifts are a part of your tradition then it is reasonable to encourage two separate gifts. This way your child’s life is celebrated in addition to, not lumped in with, other celebrations you may have this time of year. Of course, as the years pass your child may appreciate being able to receive one larger gift as opposed to two smaller ones.
We have not yet emphasized the half birthday, but as we’ve moved up to a colder climate we may find the half-birthday to be a useful opportunity to celebrate our child another time of year at a time when there is more time (school’s out!) and space (weather is warm enough for outside). Of course this option becomes a family project as all the children will find interest in a second opportunity for a day all about them!
I also touch base with my son’s teacher early as I know many holidays and parties and projects fill the month of December. To ensure he receives the opportunity to celebrate his birthday at school like all of his classmates, I coordinate with the teacher the best time to incorporate my child’s birth in all the busy of this time of year.
Of course, in the end, we just want to share the love. So we encourage our child to recognize the bigger, busy, complex world that surrounds his birth. Having one day set aside for him is not necessary for him to know he is special and deeply loved in our hearts.
Lynette is a mom of three children from ages two to six. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.