Saturday, 11 December 2010

Do not conceive in March

June 1991 I had a joint birthday party with my sister and a family friend. Our garden was filled with children jumping excitedly on a bouncy castle, faces painted with butterflies or Batman. Our birthday cake was divided into three. My third had purple icing shaped like a clown with the letters 'HAP' swirled underneath. The 'PY' just could not fit.

Looking at the cake I remember feeling puzzled, not least because I never really liked clowns. Not that they scare me- they barely register on my apathetic scale. What confused me; it wasn't actually my birthday. And even more so, was I celebrating my sixth birthday just gone or more seventh approaching later that year? Perplexed all round.

Yes, dear reader, I am a December baby. The 'best Christmas present ever received' according to my mum- but she's not the one who has to celebrate birth just before Christmas. A time when everyone is too preoccupied with work parties and gift shopping, hanging fairy lights and cooking roast dinner. When the only cards that sell in Clinton's are the hundreds of Jesus in his Manger and those of the infamous red-nosed Reindeer.

Seemingly, the only time anyone remembered my birthday was in June 1991 and that was just a fake one. A deluge of cards and presents- a drought ever since. As a child, I never noticed. Well, except once. Aged ten, all I wanted for my birthday was a tiny V-Tech learning laptop (in 1994 I was the height of cool). Unfortunately for me, all children wanted one for Christmas and it sold out. When I had nothing to open that December morning; only then did I notice.

But usually, as long as I knew it was my birthday- that was enough. In bed the night before excitement fluttered in my chest, toes wriggled in anticipation. I'd wake early with a strange awareness that this day was different, special. I was one year older and that bought change.

Now, it's as if that excitement has drifted away in a birthday balloon, caught on a strong wind and floated far. And as time passed it shrivelled, deflated and popped on a sharp branch of a twisted tree. And what makes things worse is that my birthday is already lost amidst the hectic planning and mental countdown to the busiest and most expensive times of year. As if people haven't got enough to do.

So reader, I understand. I forgive the lack of birthday wishes. I forget. But just so you don't, some advice: If you plan on having children- try not to conceive in March. Makes birthdays far more memorable...


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. Why thank you Steve. I've checked out your blog. I'm not religious so I don't think i'll be following. But i sure admire your aim to preach your message. Best of luck to you. Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. aw...I empathize.
    I quite like your balloon metaphor though I wish it didn't have to exist.

    It's tough when people don't remember you when you're growing up.

    btw Lou, do you read the New Yorker Magazine? Incredible personal piece by Joyce Carol Oates this week. I so recommend!

  4. Happy Birthday...I am a December girl too and I really love that....

  5. Happy Birthday, Lou. And cheer up, damn it!

  6. Or, if you would rather not cheer up, then write from your holiday sadness. Either way works for me.

  7. Awww, happy birthday, my friend. Sorry about the hap. More sorry about your perplexed feelings. You know we love you.

    Ivy was born December 1st. She feels your pain. Right after Thanksgiving, she always had trouble when she invited her friends to her parties. They ALWAYS had to go to family stuff.

    (^_^)How's the writing coming?

  8. I liked this post! I was born December 22nd, so i totally get where ur coming from! Everyone forgets and even when they don't it's a 'xmas' birthday. When's ur birthday?

  9. Happy Birthday, Lou. I feel for you and all those who were born on February 29th.

  10. Kitty: Thanks! I do read the New Yorker from time to time but not for the last few months. I'll check it out!

    Shalet: Happy birthday to you too!

    Bruce: Yes, i'm aware that most of my posts of late are rather on the downside but you write what you know & feel- don't you? Else what would be the point?! I'll try to post something sunnier in future!

    Robyn: Thanks for stopping by. Writing is not going to bad at the moment. Just trying to find the time to do it because i've been kinda busy the last few weeks. Sure i'll have some time over Christmas.

    Anon: Yes- most december babies understand my plight! haha. Oh and my b-day is actually until the 14th but i actually was inspired to write this because my friend Chris was reminiscing about our 1991 joint b-day party only the other day. It felt apt!

    Sarah & Hunter: Thanks so much. :)

  11. Wow, loads of spelling and poor grammar in that comment i just posted. Sorry guys. My bad. :P

  12. Hi Lou,
    I really FEEL for you...I'm the 29th and I've had years of ONE present to open on Christmas day, birthday parties that consisted of family only because none of my friends would come and lots of people trying to persuade me to celebrate on 31st because that's what they're saving their money for. Hahaha.

    Any way, I hope you had a good birthday.

  13. I get it. December birthdayz must suck. Though mine is far worse- jan 1st. Beat u.

    Happy birthday mind.

  14. Aww thanks for all the comments guys, much appreciated. And happy birthday to my fellow December/January babies. I'm in good company. :)


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