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Being Born On Christmas Isn’t Always A Party

Wed., Dec. 27, 1995, midnight

Maddie Weller is not one to mince words when it comes to saying what she thinks about her birthday.

“It’s crummy,” she said, just one day after turning 10.

It’s not hard to see why this little girl from Athol might be bitter about her birthday. Ten years ago Monday, as Santa Claus was delivering toys to all the girls and boys, Weller’s mother was delivering her.

Yep, Weller is a Christmas baby - one of those lost souls born on Dec. 25 or 26, forever doomed to share her birthday with the biggest celebration in the Western world.

“I think they kind of get cheated,” said Crystal Jensen, Weller’s aunt. “Your birthday is supposed to be your day and on Christmas everybody is kind of tired and burned out.”

Weller agrees.

“You don’t really get a birthday,” she said. “You only get presents once a year.”

Birthday parties are difficult to plan and guests often can’t come. “It’s hard because all of her friends are doing their family things,” Jensen said.

“Birthday cake?” said Roy Mix, a Twin Falls counselor and a Christmas Day birthday boy. “Not when I was growing up. Maybe a candle in a piece of pumpkin pie.”

“Nobody has any money left and everybody’s busy,” observed Ila Burgess of Jerome, who turned 73 on Monday. “I didn’t have a birthday cake until I was 53 years old.”

Weller’s family tries to separate the celebrations as best they can. They open Christmas presents in the morning and then birthday presents in the afternoon.

“We try not to wrap her birthday presents in Christmas paper,” Jensen said. “But it happens.”

Many Christmas and day-after birthday boys and girls would change natal days in a hot second. June is a popular alternative - as far from Christmas on the calendar as possible.

Not Chad Keller of Hayden Lake, who turned 18 Tuesday. He was born 12 minutes after Christmas Day.

“I like it, I like it a lot,” he said. Keller figures his folks know that having a birthday so close to Christmas is hard on a kid and have done a good job making up for it.

“I get a lot of cool stuff,” he said. Among his birthday and Christmas booty: A guitar, ski boots and quite a bit of cold, hard cash.

Besides, he says, “I was born the day after Jesus, I like that.”

His mom agrees. After spending all of Christmas day in labor with her son, giving birth was quite a present.

“It was really a pretty spiritual experience for me,” said Colleen Henry. “It was the happiest day of my life.”

Amanda Francis Ryan of Coeur d’Alene is no stranger to Christmas birthdays. On Tuesday she celebrated her 105th.

Ryan was born in Texas in 1890. At the time, her parents were traveling from Alabama to Oklahoma by horse and wagon.

When Ryan was young her family didn’t celebrate birthdays, she said from her room at the Coeur d’Alene Convalescent Center.

“There wasn’t such a thing as celebrating,” she said, her head surrounded by a halo of white hair. “We did well to live during those times.”

Ryan remembers getting a stick of candy for her birthday when she was a child. “A stick of candy was a great treat then,” she said.

Various relatives came to the home Tuesday to visit the family matriarch on her birthday. Balloons floated up from where they were tied to a wheelchair in Ryan’s room.

Ryan said she didn’t mind either way whether birthday fell near Christmas or not.

“I’ll be glad when it’s over so I can get some rest,” she said with a warm smile.

, DataTimes


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