Reasons not to be born close to Christmas, if you can help it:
1. People forget your birthday.
2. Then they try to pretend they remembered by scrawling "and happy birthday!" on your Christmas present. Unintentional two-in-ones really don't count, folks.
3. People remember your birthday, but their veins are pumping copious amounts of caffeine, cortisol, and mulled wassail, meaning you party with a jittery crowd sharing a universal headache.
On the bright side:
1. Sometimes you can get one huge combined gift that would never have been possible if your birthday were in, say, July. I recall (with large doses of fondness) the Barbie McDonald's from my grandparents, third grade. That thing had little trays and fries and Big Mac containers that opened and snapped shut, plus tiny beef patties and buns and a spatula. Good golly do I miss that McDonald's.
2. There really is no two.
3. You get to have a long-standing tradition of making gingerbread houses at your birthday parties.
I'm not sure when it started, really...likely after (and as a safer substitute for) the debacle of the carousel cake that caught on fire (that was a memorable one, Mom)...but sometime in my childhood we started rinsing out those school milk cartons and trucking them home for my birthday. We'd tape them to plates, smear the sides with my mum's homemade icing, slap on graham cracker halves and embellish with candies. We fashioned chimneys and doorknobs, landscaped the paper plate yards, and built on second stories and guest room additions.
Much to my delight (and everyone else's chagrin, I'm sure), I never did outgrow this tradition. To this day, I still force everyone to participate in my birthday faux-gingerbread house construction.
This year the triple F (Forced Family Fun) took place a week early. If you want to celebrate my birthday at your house, here's the brief process:
1. Either go the milk/whipping-cream carton route (make sure you wash and dry them thoroughly), or make a template and trace on stiff magazine paper or lightweight cardboard:
2. Tape houses together and adhere them to paper plates.
3. Bust out the candies and such:
We used dark chocolate M&M's, sour gummy shapes, pretzels, marshmallows (both standard white and tree/star shaped), mint Hershey's kisses, and gummy bears. Spiced gumdrops are very pretty but, in my opinion, taste like fermented licorice. Beware.
4. You could mix your own frosting. My mom's recipe is something like powdered sugar, vanilla, milk or possibly water--not sure, and maybe an egg white for good luck? I will look for the recipe card. In the meantime, perhaps my mum will post the recipe in the comments because she is a Really Nice Person. She honestly is.
OR...you could be like me and just buy a jar of vanilla frosting because one should not have to make frosting on one's own birthday, albeit a week early.
5. Bust out the Christmas music.
6. Give your kiddos dull butter knives, glops of frosting on the sides of their plates, and free rein with the candies.
Results may vary. Here are ours.
7. Bonus points if you do this on Friday, which is my actual birthday. I will be thirty-one. :)
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