Natalie's Diary: In the Heart a Brother and a Christmas Baby
"That's terrible. Do you get cheated on presents?" Chalk up another negative reaction to a holiday birthday! It's funny how folks are either delighted or downright negative when they find out that I'm a Christmas baby.
I didn't think it was a bad thing growing up--my family would give me extra gifts and my sister would make me any homemade birthday cake of my choosing (carrot cake!) She was the only one in the family who ever used the oven. Mom used it for storing pots and pans.
I guess they felt bad that my birthday was easily forgotten since it was during winter break and I'd never celebrate a traditional birthday party. Poor Natalie, who would RSVP to a party on Christmas Day!? Admittedly when you're 8 years old, birthday pomp and cake and circumstance matter.
As the story goes, my mom went into labor and had to drive herself and my non-English speaking grandma to fetch my dad at the neighborhood park. He was playing football with the guys. No time to change, he arrived at the hospital, according to my mother "covered in mud and wearing cleats!" Since I had two sisters already, everyone predicted by hunch or hope--or both--that I was going to be a boy.
A third girl is considered unlucky in Chinese culture. Weird to think about but as the third girl, I probably wouldn’t be around today if I had been conceived in mainland China.
My Chinese name means "in the heart, a brother."
Growing up, I didn’t feel “unlucky" or limited by being a girl. Dad bought me a BB gun and Mom and I went fishing during the day and hosted dinner parties at night. Blue jean overalls hung next to lacey dresses and I felt privileged to dream of becoming a dancer or a doctor. And on my holiday birthday, I'd enjoy my favorite Chinese spaghetti dish (which became "long life" birthday noodles) with family and neighbors, welcoming different smiling faces each year depending on who was in town or on their own.
There are many ways to celebrate: Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah. I've done Christmas indoors, outdoors, in July, around a campfire, in a Chinese restaurant, on the other side of the world, just me and mom at home...and with Mickey on Main Street in Disney World.
These days, I like giving a lot more than getting (unless it's dark chocolate truffles). Once was enough twenty years ago when I froze my butt off waiting for stores to open and fight the stampede for that "must have" gadget on Black Friday. I still love shopping but can't deal with the holiday traffic and crowds. I end up shopping year-round at local farmers and artisan markets, fairs and pick up lovely handmade art, crafts and snacks to share.
Wishing you Peace, Love and Bok Choy Blessings Y'All!