As a kid, my birthday parties weren't always well-attended and two years ago, I celebrated my birthday almost two months late. Why? Because I was born on December 26, and while I did write a song called "Jesus Steals My Thunder," I realize that others might have it worse. So I asked Tony and Emmy award-winning actress Bebe Neuwirth (12/31), comedian and radio host Brian Babylon (12/23), writer/producer Larry Goldstein (12/24) and the man who refers to himself as Baby Jesus' understudy, choreographer John Paolillo (12/25) how they feel about being born at this time of year. In the spirit of fairness, I've listed their responses in order from who gets shafted the most to the least (Larry said New Year's Eve was worse than Christmas Eve, so Bebe's second).
Do you have any funny stories about your birthday?
John: My Mom told me that when Santa was going up the chimney, I fell out of his bag of toys, and I was wrapped up in a blanket on a braided rug in front of the fireplace. A year or two later, I thought, "We don't have a fireplace, and we have wall-to-wall carpet." So I approached her and she told me she would tell me the truth. She said on Christmas morning in this empty field next to us there was a huge hill, and this big snowball came rolling down. And she heard crying in this big snowball, and when they broke it open, I was inside. I thought that was the truth for a long time and when I got older, I realized that I would have been frostbitten, and that I probably would have lost limbs or something.
Bebe: I was two weeks late, and it was coming up to the end of the year. A week before I was born, my father took my mother out in a beat up old Volvo and drove her over the railroad tracks because he wanted to induce labor. The year was almost up, and he wanted to make sure I could be a tax deduction, so he could claim two dependents, and it worked.
Larry: I was due on Christmas Day, but the doctor didn't want to work, so he induced my Mom on Christmas Eve. Also, there was a Dear Abby column where a parent wrote in about combo gifts, and Dear Abby's response was, "Is it worth a lifetime of disappointing memories for a child just to save a few dollars on a combo gift?" I was seven and cut it out of the paper and every year in early December, that clipping would mysteriously appear on the fridge.
Brian: I had corporate parents, so I had to plead my case for gifts with a cost/benefit analysis. I was like a lobbyist. I had to break down the cost of each gift and how many times I'd use it to get the most value out of it. The first acronym I learned was ROI.
What's the worst thing about being born on (near) Christmas/New Year's?
John: The fact that you have to share the day with Baby Jesus and Santa. Jesus gets first billing. Then, Santa. Then, me. It's kind of like Diana Ross and the Supremes. I'm one of the Supremes.
Bebe: I think the worst thing is having people count down to the end of the day. The only day of the year when people recognize that midnight is the end of the day is on my birthday. You feel like you get a little bit abbreviated. I feel compelled sometimes to wake up really early to make sure I get as many hours of birthday time as I can.
Larry: As a kid, I didn't mind it really, but a lot of people weren't around for my birthday, so I couldn't have a party. As an adult, I never got the cookie cake in the conference room.
Brian: I never had any worst thing.
What's the best thing about being born on (near) Christmas/New Year's?
John: My mother told me that it's special, so I believed that because I was born on Christmas I was special.
Bebe: I love that my dad's birthday is two days before mine because I love my father, and I like that there's a good chance that it will snow on my birthday.
Larry: I've never had to work on my birthday.
Brian: It's an extra chance to do resolutions and self-evaluation. It's like your own personal New Year's Eve. You can do a whole other reboot. Also, when I was younger, I was happy to be born on the 23rd because it was Michael Jordan's number.
Here's my two cents on being born on December 26.
Do most people forget your birthday?
John: Yes, unless they see it on Facebook, then I'll get birthday wishes. I get birthday wishes from my immediate family and close childhood friends because I've threatened the people closer to me.
Bebe: Most people remember my birthday. It's the perk of being born on a holiday or quasi-holiday.
Brian: No, my mom's birthday is on the same day as mine, so it's hard to forget it in my house. Facebook helps, too.
Have you ever received a birthday gift that's wrapped in holiday paper?
John: Yes, so I like to find out when their birthday is and give them a birthday/Christmas gift with seasonal wrapping paper. If they're born in the summer, it's a little bit of a payback for me. It's just a quiet f*#k you.
Bebe: Yes, you feel bad. You feel like "Well, it's lovely you gave me a present. You didn't have to do that." Then, it feels like it was an afterthought, so I feel bad about feeling bad about it. It's very nice when people want to give you a present, but it's very passive-aggressive to say, "Oh, I just had some extra paper lying around."
Larry: Of course. I'm guilty of doing that myself. I've wrapped Hanukkah gifts for others in Christmas paper. It's a holiday. It counts.
Brian: All the time. That's how I expect gifts to be wrapped for me. My grandmother was notorious for doing that.
Have you ever received a combo gift or combo card and if so, how did you feel about that?
John: When I was a teen, a friend gave me two boxes. One wrapped in Christmas paper and one in birthday paper. There was a glove in one box, and a glove in the other. Then, he put half a scarf in one and half a scarf in the other. He got a good laugh out of it. I used the scarf to choke him.
Bebe: I don't remember anything specific, but I do remember very serious conversations with my husband when we were first getting to know each other. I explained very, very seriously that those are two distinctly different events. My husband is so wonderful and sensitive and very, very good about making celebrations for me or anybody, so this was not a hassle.
Larry: I didn't get a lot of combo gifts except from distant relatives sometimes.
Brian: Yeah, but people are trying to save time, so I don't feel slighted.
How do you usually celebrate your birthday?
John: On Christmas morning, half of the gifts under the tree were wrapped in Christmas paper and the other half had birthday wrapping paper and bows. My mother did this until I was probably in my 30s, and I liked it because they acknowledged that it was my birthday. I never knew what it was like to have a birthday party because every time we tried, the kids couldn't come because parents were out Christmas shopping. The first big real party I had was for my 50th birthday. It was the first time everyone was at an event for me with my name on the cake, and it was a roast/birthday. I think probably because it was my 50th and I never had a birthday party, everyone was like, that's the party we must go to.
Bebe: I usually have a really quiet dinner with my husband and stay in. It's tricky to get dinner reservations on New Year's Eve if we want to go out for a nice dinner because sometimes it's a set menu or there are two seatings. One at 6:00, and one at 9:00. Fortunately, my husband's an excellent cook, so that's always an option.
Larry: It's a tough day because you can't do much. The only thing that's open are Chinese restaurants and adult shops.
Brian: The 23rd is hard because it's usually the last day of work for most people. I never really had birthday parties unless I planned it as a holiday party. If you can find another late December birthday partner to go in on pushing the whole birthday thing, then you can double the action, and it makes it much more fun.
Do you have any tips for people thinking about conceiving in March?
John: Be considerate and be aware that your child could be born on Christmas and you could be cheating them and scarring them for life.
Bebe: (laughs) Use protection.
Larry: I like having my birthday when it is. I like the holidays. I love the lights and having your birthday in the middle of that makes it that much more special. I would not want to have a New Year's Eve birthday because everyone is partying, but not for you.
Brian: Do what you want to do. You can still celebrate whenever you want, and it's easier to show them you care in 2012 than it was in the '70s or '80s. You couldn't email or text back then.
Do you have any advice for people who are expecting a child around Christmas or New Year's?
John: To lessen the blow for the child when they learn that they have competition, tell them they were born in a snowball or fell out of Santa's bag.
Bebe: Your birthday is your birthday and your chosen holiday is your chosen holiday and ne'er the twain shall meet. Keep 'em separate.
Larry: Remember what Dear Abby said.
Brian: Teach your kid PowerPoint and have them present their case to you like an expert. I think that really made me a good communicator - to articulate what you want, why you want it and put money behind it.
So there are a few opinions on the matter. Bottom line: don't overlook anyone born during this time of year and happy birthday to all of those holiday-adjacent babies!