As we get older, we tend to look forward to birthdays less and less, and I'm no exception. However, I've been kvetching about the day of my birth much longer than most. I am a New Year's baby, and believe me, it sucks.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are some advantages to being born on New Year's Day -- such as, let's see...How about knowing exactly what age you were at any given year? But for the most part, being born the day the annual odometer clicks over is not that great. Here's why, in chronological order of suckitude:

It's too close to the winter gift-giving holidays
(Ages 3-13)
When you're get older, birthdays are no longer all about the presents, but when you're a little kid, they're an excuse to get all hopped up on sugar, blow out candles and to tear open gifts.

When your birthday is a week after Christmas, it's anticlimactic. And let's not mention the folks who combine Christmas and birthday presents into one gift. Try doing that to a kid born on June 1 and see what happens.

No birthday greetings in school: it's winter break (Ages 5-21)
My high school used to include students' birthdays in the daily announcements. I, like those kids with the misfortune of being born in summer, never got that meager time in the spotlight. I remember in late December one year in high school there was a shout-out to a senior whose "birthday was never announced." My ears perked up: no dice. It was celebrating the upcoming birthday of the girl with the greater misfortune: being born on Christmas.

Everyone's too tired/hungover from partying on New Year's Eve to celebrate on your actual birthday (Age "21" - present)
Your birthday is the day after one of the biggest "amateur nights" on the party calendar. No one wants to throw down after that.

One exception to that rule is in the great city of Philadelphia, where the drunken antics of the Mummers parade--held every New Year's Day--make New Year's Eve seem like Arbor Day. Of course, trying to celebrate the anniversary of one's birth while avoiding inebriated "fancy brigades" is its own special kind of hell.

The solution, of course, is to fold your birthday party into your New Year's Eve celebration, just like a combined birthday-Christmas present.


Heather Muse was born on January 1 some time in the '70s. As the second baby born in her hometown that year, she didn't win any fabulous prizes.

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