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All I Don't Want for Christmas is ...

An ode to holiday birthdays

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If you believe in astrology, then you know that Capricorns are doubly screwed. Not only are we the Richard Nixons of the Zodiac -- analytical, conservative, rigid, etc. -- we get shafted on birthdays. Well-meaning friends occasionally skimp on the presents, and we even get swindled out of their time and attention.

If you don't believe me, just try planning a last-minute birthday party a week before Christmas. Everyone complains about the timing; you'll be lucky if your own mother acts like it's not an inconvenience (unless, ahem, you've got a wonderful mom like I do.)

When you're a kid, having a Christmastime birthday sucks. You never get birthday cupcakes and Kool-Aid during the school day, like your classmates born in March or October might. As an adult, the guys you date suddenly enter witness protection, only to reappear after New Year's Eve or, if they're especially cheap, after Valentine's Day.

Tell people your birthday is near Christmas and you, with near inevitability, draw a sympathetic response. "Oh, I'm sorry," is the tactful rejoinder. "You must get screwed out of presents," is the more jocular one. Some of those same folks will then give you a "combined" present. Wrapped in Christmas paper.

Now, I'm not one to wrap all my Christmas hopes in multicolored, landfill-clogging paper. Once you quit believing in fairy tales -- Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Fair Tax -- you learn that Christmas and birthdays aren't all about the gifts. Those special days are also about what you don't get. What you don't get, now, therein lies the beauty.

For me, I'd like to have one December without being subjected to Christmas songs by overexposed pop stars who crassly hope to make a buck off their misguided fans. Such as, say, Mariah Carey. I'd give up all my presents if I could just go one season without hearing her belt out All I Want for Christmas is Youuuuuuu 10 times a day. And if George Michael is condemned to hell, it won't be for anything he's ever done in a public restroom, contrary to what some knuckle-draggers might claim. The "Wake Me Up Before You Go" video may have earned him his ticket, but that abominable "Last Christmas You Gave Me Your Heart" song clinched it. Every damn year, it's inescapable.

But those tonal atrocities are classics next to "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Bob Geldof and Band-Aid. After listening to this song, I'm pretty sure anyone who didn't know it was Christmas would consider herself lucky.

Compared to the indignity of suffering such songs, having a Christmastime birthday doesn't look so bad. The key is to set standards with your friends. Carp about your plight well in advance. They may reward you for your greed by not giving you any gifts, but at least you've set a standard.

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