I love celebrating birthdays as much as I love Christmas. Unlike other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or even Thanksgiving, birthdays are unique to the individual celebrating them. When I considered having children, I wanted them to be born in the first half of the year, so they would be able to attend school with their peers. That hope worked out for my firstborn Ilse, who was born in May. For my second child, my hope was more focused on conceiving and having a healthy child (though admittedly I was aiming for a January birthdate). Alice was due on December 20 and made her arrival five days later on Christmas morning. It was quite the Christmas surprise and delight for our little family. Naturally, Alice’s Christmas birthday created the celebration conundrum of sorts. How do we celebrate Alice’s birthday and Christmas at the same time?
After months of brainstorming, I have figured how to celebrate both important holidays: We will have two celebrations! While it might be easy to combine both holidays, it’s only fair for Alice to have a birthday celebration separate from a Christmas celebration. After all, we celebrate each of our birthdays. I thank a childhood Christmas tradition for the idea. Growing up, I celebrated “Nochebuena” (the Spanish word for Christmas Eve) with my family by attending the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, savoring hot chocolate and ham rolls, and opening gifts. Thus, I have always associated celebrating Christmas with the “Nochebuena” festivities. Christmas day was and has been a day of rest, which was marked by a fancy ham lunch or dinner on my Mama’s nice plates and playing with our new toys. I have since incorporated some of these traditions with my own family, with the added bonus of sleeping by the Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts. This year, as in past years, we will continue the “Nochebuena” tradition (of course with a virtual Mass versus an in-person service).
On Christmas day, rather than bum around, we will celebrate Alice’s birthday. I have collected pink and gold birthday decorations to blend with the Christmas tree decor. I’ll have our closest family members video call, so we can all sing Happy Birthday to Alice and help her blow out her candle. We will have a birthday meal with a birthday cupcake or pancake cake for her and birthday presents for her to tear open. We will take lots of photos! We might even sneak in an afternoon nap. Joyful!
Alice’s birthday gives us another reason to be merry on Christmas. Alice was our Christmas gift last year. This year, our gift to Alice is a birthday celebration, distinct of the holiday she shares it with. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to our Alice Elizabeth!