It never fails.
On the first day of December, my husband starts reminding “someone’s got a birthday coming up.”
The someone is me.
I cringe, not because I dread getting older.
That part doesn’t really bother me; I am now at the stage of life where I am looking forward to becoming that crazy old Southern woman that shocks people.
No, the part that bothers me is that my birthday is the week before Christmas.
You folks with birthdays in other months just do not understand this pain.
The only good thing about having a birthday the week before Christmas was that it was usually the day school got out for the break.
But celebration wise, to quote Seuss, it stink, stank, stunk.
“We’re having the Christmas party at church on the 17th,” Granny would say. “Consider that your party.”
“But, that’s not my birthday and it is the Christmas party,” was my response.
“Well, your mother’s working and I ain’t got time to throw you a party. You think you too good to celebrate on the day we celebrate Baby Jesus?”
I shook my head. The old gal knew just how to shame me.
“Well, good. And any gifts you get at church is for your birthday.”
You know what I got?
I got socks and books.
No underwear, thankfully, as that is not proper to be given at church, even if wrapped in red, shiny paper.
“So, this is my birthday presents?” I asked as we drove home afterwards.
“You may have another special one under the tree at the house,” Granny said.
A special one under the tree. Hmmm…I wonder what that could be?
Had the old gal felt pity on me for getting socks and a new Garfield comic book as my birthday?
“You gotta wait until your birthday though,” she said. “But it will be worth it.”
I was so excited. I knew I had two sleeps until I could wake up and get something awesome, something incredible, something Granny herself had described as special.
The day of my actual birthday, I woke up early even though I didn’t have to go to school. I ran down the hall, hoping Granny would let me have the gift before she went to work.
“You’re up early!” she exclaimed when she saw me. “Couldn’t wait to be one year older, could you?”
I shook my head. Would she give it to me now? Did I need to go wake Mama? I hated waking her but if this was special, she should see it, too.
“Eat some breakfast and then I will let you get your gift.”
She shoved a plate of biscuits and sausage in front of me because she did not believe cereal was a proper meal.
I was almost too excited to eat. I saw a big box under the tree, and knew it had my name on it.
Pop had already checked it out and was disappointed it wasn’t his.
“You got the biggest one under the tree,” he told me. “She better not have me a tie or something. I only wear that stuff on Sundays; it ain’t getting worn out.”
Granny was about to leave and hadn’t given me my gift yet. Had she forgotten?
“Granny?” I began.
“Are you forgetting something?”
“Oh! You are waiting on your birthday gift. No, I didn’t forget,” she began. She sat her purse down. “Go get that gift over there.”
She was pointing to the big box.
“The big one?” I asked, just to be sure.
Oh, sweet son of a biscuit eater. Whatever this was, was going to be good.
I ran to it, eager to tear the paper off. I knew Granny had probably re-used the bows from the last seven Christmases, so I wasn’t worried about being careful with them.
I opened the large, white box, full of anticipation.
And found a long, brushed flannel granny gown with a pink ribbon at the neckline.
“It was so big, I didn’t think I’d ever find a box to put it in. It’s going to get cold the next few weeks; you’ll need it before Christmas.”
And with that, the old gal, headed out the door to work.
A flannel gown. My big, special birthday gift was a flannel gown.
A few years before it had been footy pajamas, so perhaps this was a step up.
“I’m the only child that gets a granny gown for their birthday,” I muttered.
“No, you aren’t,” my grandfather said.
“Name me one more.”
Pop chewed his biscuit as he thought.
“I don’t know their names. But it’s all them other December babies. That’s who.”