Handling birthday celebration and Christmas time a challenge

As the hour grew late on Dec 23, 2003, we held our breath. Would the baby be born today or tomorrow? To our concern, she waited until after midnight, and Christmas Eve became our first grandchild’s birthday.

Prior to 2003, Christmas Eve has always been full of last minute shopping, holiday preparations, baking, gift wrapping, and ended with Christmas Eve worship with the family holding candles and singing Silent Night. We loved celebrating the Birth of our Lord.

Now it would also be our granddaughter’s birthday, and I worried. How were we ever going to do it all and not lose our focus?

I’m writing this because I know some of you are struggling with the same dilemma. And I wanted to share how it has worked out.

Since 2003, our Christmas Eves have been tightly scheduled. We had cake, ice cream and candles, and gave a simple gift or a card to acknowledge that Olivia was a year older. We celebrated her birthday all day until dark, then we’d go to Christmas Eve services and Christmas began.

Then around six months later — June 24 or so — we would celebrate her “Half Birthday” with lots of friends who never could have attended a slumber party on Christmas Eve. We’d have a regular birthday party, cake and gifts in warm weather, which she preferred.

She grew up thinking having two birthdays was normal. “Doesn’t everyone have a Half Birthday?” On the other hand, her sister wondered why her older sibling got two cakes a year. Luckily she was a good sport.

Now the balancing act seems quite normal to all of us.

When she was around 10 years old, Olivia told me that she loved sharing a birthday with Jesus. It made her day extra special, and she embraced it.

She enjoyed it that everyone was counting down to Christmas and her day, too. It was also special that she never had to go to school on her birthday.

On her 16th birthday, she ran into a bit of a complication when the BMV had very limited hours, and she had to take her driver’s test at 8 a.m. or wait five days. Fortunately, she passed, which was better than any presents we could have given her.

On Monday I sat with a beautiful 17 year old lady who is about to turn 18 on Christmas Eve.

“How did we do?” I asked her. Were we able to help you keep your birthday and Christmas separate?

I got my answer when Olivia smiled and her eyes sparkled.

I think she appreciated all the hoops we jumped through to make her birthday extraordinary, and still have a meaningful Christmas.

She confessed that the only thing that ever really annoyed her when she was little was the combination birthday/Christmas presents in Christmas paper, which most of us carefully avoided. My father, who had a Dec. 12 birthday, and other friends with near Christmas birthdays had luckily warned us.

However, I had to laugh as I watched her enjoy her birthday manicure.

She was getting her nails done for her birthday, but the design was decidedly Christmas with candy canes, stars and snowflakes.

It has all worked out just fine.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

And Happy Birthday Olivia.

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