First off: HAPPY BIRTHDAY H.! I love you.
An unusually high number of my family and friends (including myself) were born in the latter part of December and early January. Sagittariuses and Capricorns. Which makes us exceptionally interesting people, of course (ahem), but also comes with the baggage of having to celebrate our special days with the big JC (Jesus Christ for all you non-Christians) or Baby New Year. Which can result in some icky and sometimes downright unhappy moments.
For those of you whose birthdays are not scheduled around the time of the birth of one of the world's greatest religious figures, let me give you some etiquette tips on what not to do (along with some more constructive advice) to help your beautiful Sag and Cap friends celebrate their days o' birth.
1. The CARDINAL rule: Never, NeVeR, NEVER fold in your Dec/Jan friend's birthday with your Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/New Year, etc. celebrations. This happened last night to H., whose birthday is today (see above). He doesn't seem to mind all that much, but I know on some level it has to hurt him, because us Dec/Jan babies Hate, HATE with a passion when people combine our special days with the major holidays of the season, as if our day was just too inconveniently scheduled for them to actually make special time just for us,
2. Do NOT give us those rude 'Oh, here's your Christmas/Birthday present. Hope you like it' gifts. We HATE those. Do you give your friend whose birthday is on July 5th a 'Oh, here's your Independence Day/Birthday present' gift? No, because that would be more than slightly tacky. Well, it's tacky to do it for us too. Now, we're not expecting folks to shell out the big bucks during this often financially stressful time of year just for our benefit (although that would be nice), we just want to be acknowledged twice, with two gifts, even if one or more of them are of the five-and-dime variety. We are soulful folks, and it is the thought that counts after all.
I have to admit I think I'm a little spoiled in the gift department because as a child my mother and family were excellent at giving me two sets of presents: one for Christmas and one for my birthday. I didn't have to deal with too many 'combo' deals as a child (even now, my mother would never deign to give me a two-fer gift, that would be unheard of!), which is probably why I have higher expectations than some other Dec/Jan babies.
3. This rule could really be the cardinal rule too, but it should go without saying: Do NOT just completely forget our birthdays because you are so busy with holiday brouhaha that you can't be bothered. Not them in your calendars, in your PDAs, on a sticky note on your bulletin board, write them on your hand if you have to. We are generally a bit sensitive about having our birthdays overlooked because of the blinding eclipse of Jesus' day and all its accompanying consumer-driven baggage. And nobody likes to have their birthdays forgotten, so why should we--despite our exceptional personalities ;-)--put up with it just because we happened to be born this time of year?
That being said, I have to admit (with more than a smidgen of guilt and shame) that I didn't get around to getting H.'s gift together in time to present it to him this morning. I usually go way out of my way to make sure that I have something lined up for him that's memorable, but I blew it this year. I'll have his present ready for later today, but in my mind I failed to meet my own strict standards of celebrating a Sag's birthday.
Maybe the folks out there who have pulled one too many 'combo' deals are rubbing off on me. Even more reason to remind myself why it's so important to take the time to celebrate the existences of some of the people I love the most. Note to self written on back of hand: L.'s birthday is on Friday!