Do Not Inflict Combination Gifts Upon Your December-Born Friends

My birthday presents came in the mail! My mom and brother both mailed me gifts for my December 22 birthday, and I am so tempted to open them, but I promised that I wouldn't and they believe me I won't.

(When I asked if I could open early, my brother pointed out the obvious in his reply text: "Honestly, you can open it whenever you want. It isn't wired with explosives or a time lock." Truth.)

Both my brother and I arrived (three years apart) during the holiday season. As far as Christmas babies go, I could have it worse. My birthday is December 22, and I'm pretty sure that even that small sliver of time gives me an advantage over the poor souls born on December 25, or even December 24 and 26. And I think my brother really has it the worst, his January 4 birthday coming on the heels of several weeks of cumulative seasonal exhaustion. But I gotta tell you--there is still no excuse for it. No excuse at all. You can do better, guys.You can do better than giving your friends born in December the short end of the gift-giving stick.

I'm talking about The Combination Gift.

Anyone who was born in December, and especially of those of us whose birthdays are closely clustered around The Most Important Birthday in History, has likely received a Combination Gift. The Combination Gift is almost always handed over by someone wearing an odd expression of half-over-excitement and half-sheepishness--a reflection of their own awareness of the obvious bullshit they are perpetrating upon you.

My mom was out in front of this early, realizing both her kids would be prime targets for Combination Gifts. She always baked us birthday cakes and threw us birthday parties, even though we were smack in the middle of Overeating Season; she always bought us two presents; she never wrapped our birthday presents in Christmas paper--always birthday paper.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't about more presents, though I do freaking love presents. This is about fair play. A kid born in June is never, ever handed a gift and told, "This is for your birthday and Christmas!"

(For the record, if that's ever happened, that kid wins for shittiest Combination Gift, hands down.)

(Also, I might high-five the gifter, just on principle ... but I digress.)

I also have to admit that sometimes a Combination Gift is legitimately awesome, but that's only when someone goes through the trouble of really thinking about something you would love, and maybe (but not necessarily!) spends a bit more than they would on just one present. But more often the Combination Gift is purchased with either the birthday or Christmas in mind, and then later the person thinks, "Oh shit! I forgot about [birthday or Christmas]!" And then they think about going all the way back to the mall, which will be even worse because now it's even closer to Christmas, plus the holidays are so expensive anyway, and what's with all this commercialism anyway, and then they write, "Happy birthday and MERRY Christmas!" inside the card and, then we Combination Gift receivers smile and say thanks. But when we say "Thanks" what you don't hear is the last part, which is usually something like, "You cheap, lazy bastard. Buy a calendar."

So I implore you--be a pal this holiday season. If you have friends who share a birthday with Jesus, please remember how hard it is to compete with that kind of thing year in and year out, and give them something a little extra-special; and wrap it in birthday paper for Chrissakes.

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