Jude was born on December 25th and it seems we are forever trying to make-up for the short end of that stick. Of all the kids, why did our middle, who already has the greatest chip on his birth order shoulder, get the worst birthday too?
We always buy him separate gifts, as advised by Grandma Vera who holds a December 19th birthday, and demands NO combined gifts! And Joshua’s mom is often found baking Jude a special birthday coffee cake that we enjoy the morning after Christmas. We separate the two events, opening all the red and green wrapped items in the morning and then marking the transition to the birthday wrapped ones, come afternoon, with an explicit singing of Happy Birthday. And it works, but also, it’s still Christmas and he still only gets presents one day a year, instead of the normal twice (for Christmas and your birthday) and you will hear about those details anytime he has to chance to tell you.
Early on, he loved that his birthday was on Christmas. Jude is very social and what better conversation starter than this fact? Three-year-old Jude would tell someone his birthday was on Christmas and their eyes would grow wide with wonder as they said, “Wow, really!” and he would beam.
But as he got older it was like a seed was planted. He started to notice that anytime someone heard his birthday they would remark, “Wow! That’s hard!” or, “Oh gosh, Christmas- you only get to celebrate once a year!” And with that, we slowly started to notice that his, “My birthday is Christmas!” shifted to, “My Birthday is Christmas, it’s the worst.”
The last pure birthday he had was turning 5. I had planned a birthday party for our Christmas baby complete with hot cocoa, ornament making crafts, a singing instructor leading us in carols and the REAL Santa. Most unfortunately, days before the party, Beau ended up in the hospital with what was surely just a terrible virus, so, I left Joshua and Beau, inpatient, and drove home to prepare for 25 children and Santa Don. It was the most precious birthday party a Christmas Baby could imagine and half-way through, Joshua called and told me that the doctor’s thought it might be leukemia and I I then vomited into the garage trash can.
Three days later, on proper December 25th, Beaudin still inpatient, we celebrated Christmas Day and Jude’s birthday again, with extended family, in the cafeteria of the children’s hospital. Beaudin couldn’t join because at that point we were still under the care of Infectious Disease since they weren’t exactly sure what was happening, they didn’t know if he was contagious with some unknown superspreader. So, Joshua and I took turns in Beau’s room and then in the cafeteria, trying to juggle all the needs.
Luckily, Jude looks back on the birthday without any connection to cancer and remarks it was his, “best birthday ever!” I think it was the last year that his Christmas Baby status was unrivaled, and the last season before cancer’s gray cloud covered everything.
We have now developed a new tradition, that while still bemoaned by Jude, I think will prove to be the only cure to his Christmas Birthday fate. We do all the celebrating aforementioned on the actual holiday, but then on June 25th we celebrate his Half Birthday. The past couple years this has looked like sushi dinner with his first best friend, Ryker (who has since moved to Texas, but by sheer luck is visiting every summer at that time.) We get him a couple of presents, Gramps and Grandma Vera send him a birthday card physically cut in half, and silly gift like the shirt pictured below.
This year Jude decided that we wanted to have a birthday party both near his actual day, and also a Half Party.
Sure, whatever kid, it’s been a long couple years, have whatever you want.
So it was. A handful of his classmates came over to watch the new Puss and Boots movie, we broke out the popcorn maker (which remains the best harebrained purchase we’ve made), ordered pizza and ice cream cake and celebrated our Jude Man.
All day, leading up to the party, I had been suggesting he get dressed, like surely in something other than jammies, but maybe even in something other than his standard ripped-knee sweat pants. To no avail, he came down for the party in his go-to, faded tie-die shirt and old sweats.
Until the first guest arrived.
At that moment he sprinted upstairs.
“Jude, come down, people are here!” Beau yelled up, giddy with party excitement.
“Hold on!” Jude yelled back.
Guests trickled in, handing me their gifts and wondering where Jude was. Moments later, Jude returned.
He was dressed head to toe in his finest clothing, hair wet and combed. His suit, tie, belt, and shiny black shoes. He smelled on Joshua’s cologne. The fanciest Christmas Baby I’d ever seen. In that moment, I have never loved him more.
Children and parents alike raved at his appearance and he relished the attention. Once the energy settled, I asked privately, “Why’d you change into this?”
“Because I love being fancy, and I figured, it’s MY birthday, why wouldn’t I be the fanciest guy in the room!”