I spend fall months anticipating Christmas.

When the lingering warmth of August and September passes, Halloween kicks off the countdown to the holidays. The candy, costumes, parades and parties are mere previews for the fun and energy of Christmas.

The flip side of all this anticipation is the letdown that inevitably begins Dec. 26.

All the wished-for gifts have been opened; all the food has been eaten; all the relatives are making plans for their trips back home. And we are staring down the long, cold, joyless, holiday-less month of January.

Everyone, that is, except me.

I have a January birthday. I admit, I am luckier than some. What I love about my birthday is that it is not right before Christmas or on Christmas or even before New Year's, but it falls right when the January slump is hitting everybody else on Jan. 5. While many are waking up dreading a month of no holidays, I am celebrating and getting more presents.

I did not always appreciate my birthday.

There were times I felt slighted, mostly during my elementary and middle school years when every one of my friends seemed to have a summer birthday, and each day during the summer I was going to one amazing pool party after another.

What can you do for a birthday party in Tennessee in January? Nothing but drink hot chocolate. So I never had amazing parties.

Then there was always the consolation: "We can celebrate your half birthday," which was more depressing than anything.

There is also the dreaded double gift. More times than I want to count, someone has given me one of these combination Christmas/birthday presents.

It doesn't make me angry that I receive one gift; I am happy to get anything at all. What makes me cringe is the insensitive statement, "Here is your Christmas and birthday present."

At no other time of the year would this be acceptable. People are not even thinking when they say it. They simply associate gift giving with efficiency. But nothing screams "I don't care about your birthday" more.

So, while I still might be bitter about double gifts, I truly appreciate having a January birthday, and I do feel blessed when people acknowledge it.

This year, I'll be ringing in the new year anticipating another reason to celebrate. And, to all other December/January folks, I hope you enjoy having a birthday for Christmas.

Contact Corin Harpe at