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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

The Birthday Experiment

Bag with December 25 on it
Image by Jon Tyson, New York City,

A happening unprecedented: I threw myself a birthday party on December 25, 2009.

Soak that in for a minute.

It’s a few days after Thanksgiving. You’re thinking, time to get going on my holiday cards and baking. Gift ideas for party hosts swirl inside your head. Perhaps you’re a crafter and for you, Christmas started in July.

Let’s see…last year you volunteered to head the committee for this year’s holiday office shindig. Your son, with new girlfriend in tow, is coming home from college. The tree needs trimming. You’re wondering if you can get a flight to Idaho – a quick visit to your mom who is aging and alone. Remind your brother he promised to string the lights on the house early this year. The new client at work will want you to hit the ground slamming on January 3 so you’ll put in extra time at the office before you take off for the week between December 25 and New Year’s.

You swig your mocha latte and try not to dwell. Then, a glance at the birthday party invitation tacked on your refrigerator prompts you to say aloud: Christmas Day! Why is she throwing a birthday party on Christmas? you ask yourself, then me when you call to make sure you “read it right.”

Birthday Candles
Image by Marty Southwell, Sidney, Australia,

That was the conversation I had 14 times upon receipt of my birthday party invitations. What I found remarkable:

  • The incredulity of the recipients. Somebody has to be born on December 25th! Worldwide that’s 19 million of us. Unless you are born on Feb. 29, statistically you share your birthday with approximately 1/365 of any population (0.274%).

  • The consistent chutzpah-soaked suggestion that I have the party another day.

  • The reactive level of stress associated with an invitation to a party six months in advance.

That’s right. I sent the invitation in June. My half-birthday month.

Sad African American Girl
Image by Arnav Singhal, Delhi, India,

The biggest deal about this party was shoring up the nerve to have it. I was embracing disquietude I had felt my entire life but hadn’t the courage to test: If I threw myself a birthday party on December 25th, would anybody come?

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