Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Every Christmas Is a Birthday

I am ceding control of this entry to someone else just for today.

I cannot improve on her words for the season, so I won't even attempt it.

In the name of full attribution, I'll state outright that this selection is from the book At Wit's End by humorist and author Erma Bombeck (Random House, 1965).  The writing definitely shows its age; no parent in his/her right mind would leave a child unattended in a busy store for even a millisecond these days.

But nonetheless, this piece resonates with me personally for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that my birthday, too, falls around Christmastime. It's a tough thing, and I sympathize with anyone in this boat, as your birthday becomes somewhat of a burden ("Oh, gosh, more cake this time of year? No thanks..."). It also, as a kid, led to an embarrassment of riches, with a heap of Santa's delivery, followed by additional gifts two days later.

Among the meaningful Christmas songs I haul out every year are selections from an album my Dad purchased back in the early1970s when it debuted. The artists are the Harry Simeone Chorale, the singers who gave us the definitive version of "The Little Drummer Boy." On that album is a virtually unknown song called "Every Christmas Is a Birthday." The plaintive tune has been a steady reminder to me that a Christmas birthday isn't such a bad thing after all, considering.

A sentiment echoed so wittily and so movingly by Ms. Bombeck.



 One More Ho-Ho-Ho and I'll Paste You in the Mouth

"Who cares if it fits? She takes everything back anyway. Billie Joe, if you get hit by a truck, the next time I'll leave you at home! Why did I wear these boots? It never fails. I wear boots and the sun comes out! Will you please stop pulling at me. I did buy Christmas cards last January. I just can't find them. Cheap stuff. They always put out cheap stuff at Christmas. Did you see that man shove me? Same to you, fella!

"Don't dilly-dally to look at store windows. I've got all my baking to do, the house to decorate, presents to wrap, the cards to mail ... mailman! I forgot to get something for the mailman. Boy, everyone's got their hand out at Christmas, haven't they. Did you see that? I was here first and she hopped right in front of me. We oughta get numbers like they do at the butcher counter. That would take care of those pushy ones. Same to you, fella!

"I don't care if the box fits, just any box will do. So, don't send it. Let me occupy a whole bus with it. You tell the policeman when I occupy a whole seat that your truck driver couldn't deliver it. Lines ... lines ... I'll have to get in line to die ... Billie Joe, you're too old for the Santa Claus bit. Don't think I don't know why you want to stand in line ... for a lousy candy cane. You'd stand in line if they were handing out headaches.

"What music? I don't hear any music. I think I'll just give Uncle Walter the money. He's always liked money. In fact, he's never happy with anything else you give him. And that gift exchange. Wish we could get out of that. I always get something cheap back. My feet hurt. You'd think some man would get off his duff and give a woman a seat. No one cares about anyone anymore. I don't hear any music.

"My headache's back. Wish I could take off these boots. I think we're ready to ... wait a minute, Billy Joe. I forgot Linda's birthday. Doesn't that beat all. It's what she gets for being born on Christmas Day. Now, I've got to run up to the fourth floor and fight those crowds all over again. You wait here with the shopping bags and don't wander, do you hear? No sense running you all over the place. Boy, some people have a fat nerve having a birthday on Christmas Day. I don't know of anyone who has the gall to be born on Christmas Day. What did you say, Billie Joe?"

"I said, 'I know SomeOne.'"

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