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Guest Opinion

Nobody wants to celebrate your January birthday


T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month. Anyone with a January birthday would vehemently disagree with his assertion. It is ironic that Eliot died on Jan. 4. The real cruelest month got the last word.

For months people look forward to the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve: the food, the drink, family and friends, the music and the parties. January is the hangover. In January, what is there besides resolutions revolving around privation? Biting cold, unwanted gifts to return, and the resumption of work and school.

In December, everyone wants a white Christmas. They dream about winter wonderlands, sleigh rides, and snowy landscapes.

Once the calendar turns to January, whenever there’s a chance of snow, panic sets in. In January, precipitation comes in the forms of a blizzard, wintry mix, freezing rain and sleet. As far as I know, nobody ever wrote a song about sleet. Let it Sleet! Let it Sleet! Let it Sleet! just doesn’t have the same snap to it.

Those with January birthdays can cite the many times guests canceled on their birthday parties because they’re averse to partying after the holidays and despite the 50-degree temperature, the forecast called for flurries or, worse, sleet.

January is the beginning of tax season, when you rummage for receipts and regret those must-have holiday splurges. In January, you shield your eyes when you open the credit card bill for the purchases that made so much sense in December.

January birthdays never have pool parties, bouncy houses or pony rides. The pool is frozen, the ground is too cold, and the ponies that were sublet for living Nativity scenes refuse to work after December.

January birthday boys and girls blow out the candles on mass-produced cakes served on leftover Christmas paper plates because the bakery closed after the New Year to recover from their busy season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

What’s worse, January birthdays get double-dipped for presents with this familiar excuse: “Oh, sorry, I forgot you at Christmas but here’s your present. It’s also your birthday present.”

Any January baby is clairvoyant enough to see through the Christmas wrapping paper to tell you it’s usually a sweater, just what a 10-year-old boy always wanted.

The glutinous holiday celebrations of November-December birth January resolutions to eat less, forsake drink, to have less fun, to work harder, to exercise more, and generally avoid the family and friends whose company you enjoyed so much during the holidays. So nobody wants to celebrate your January birthday.

People may offer to take you out for your birthday in January but will warn you that they are on dry island. You may therefore look forward to going out for a rocking good time eating chicken wings and drinking beer while they sip ice water and nibble celery sticks and blather on about steps, crunches and lunges.

January is the calendar speed bump. People look beyond January to February and the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, two occasions where food and sweets are welcome anew. There’s no such day like either in January. By the time these holidays appear, the January resolutions to purge, fast, and slim down have been long forgotten.

As a result of these celebratory obstacles, people born in January are tougher and more resilient.

So happy birthday to anybody born in the cruelest, coldest month. There’s a wrapped Van Heusen pullover waiting for you to open. Pretend it’s what you’ve always wanted.

Paul F. Bradley lives in Washington Crossing. He was born in January.

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