People born around Christmas get gypped out of their birthdays when they’re little. Friends and relatives will smile really big and hand you a gift and say, “Here’s your birthday and Christmas present.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. If you had been born on July 18th, no one would say that. It would be ludicrous. So why do people think it’s okay to do it in December?

Everyone I’ve ever known with December birthdays says they got the same story — no matter what part of the country they were from or their economic status.

We get birthday cakes decorated in red and green with holly instead of flowers or balloons on them. We get presents wrapped in Christmas paper. This is not right!

I have made it my life’s mission to get my birthday celebrated in a non-Christmas style. I make sure everyone knows they cannot get by with the old combined present thing. I don’t care if you get me no gift at all – but just don’t tell me it’s for both. What does that mean, anyway? That if I choose to open the present on my birthday, I’m going to get up Christmas morning and have no presents at all?

When I get a birthday cake, or make one of my own, it does not have red and green frosting. It will be rainbow colors, or turquoise, or something that reeks of birthday.

I’ll give you an example. My mother-in-law, who I hope doesn’t read this, would have birthday parties for each of her five children when my husband and I were first married. We attended all of these, presents in hand, and had dinners and spent a few hours visiting with each other. And then it came time for our birthdays, and year after year there would be no party and no presents because the family was going to get together in a few days anyway. So we’d show up, get our, “Did you have a good birthday?” questions, maybe get some cards, and that would be it.  Where is the justice?

If you’ve read this far, you probably think I’m a spoiled brat, and you’re right. But that is neither here nor there. Nor anyplace else either. I want my birthday to be separate. I’m going to use all the years of my adult life to make amends for the birthdays I got that were combined with Christmas.

I’m not bitter. Yeah, right. I’m mad as a hornet. December babies didn’t ask to compete with the biggest holiday on the planet. We’d be a lot happier if our parents would have gotten cozy in January instead of March. It was their lack of planning that has caused this annual inconvenience for us.

Sometimes I think I’ll just celebrate our birthdays in July with a nice barbecue so that the days before Christmas won’t be so full of activity, but I never do. It’s just not the same. A birthday is important. I believe it needs to be celebrated on the actual day – even if you don’t have a party or anything else. The minimum you need to have a good birthday is the feeling that it’s your day – even if you have to work or change diapers or visit the nursing home. You should be able to lay claim to that day as your own personal celebration, and not feel guilty about it.

So if you know people with a December birthdays, don’t even mention Christmas when you talk to them. Just say, “Happy Birthday,” and let us enjoy the moment. And if you want to give us a foot rub, that would be really nice, too.