Birthdays on Other Days

mike stanley lake powell

By Gabrielle.

Yesterday was September 11th. When I go about my day on September 11th, and see something or read something that reminds me it’s September 11th, like many people, I relive those moments of twelve years ago. We had just moved to New York the month before. I held newborn baby Olive in my arms while I watched the news. Ben Blair was in Manhattan.

And then I remember that September 11th is also my dad’s birthday. The picture at top is my dad at Lake Powell. I believe he would have been 70 years old this year!

He died a few years before the events of 9/11. And I’m not sure how he would have felt, sharing his birthday with a national day of mourning. I know that Liz of Mom 101, a life-long New Yorker, has a 9/11 birthday as well, and I’ve noticed she finds good ways to celebrate, while also honoring the somber realities of that day. And I always wonder if that’s a hard balance for her to strike.

I’d love to know, do you share your birthday with another big day? 9/11? Pearl Harbor? Or maybe a holiday? Do you like sharing the day? Or would you switch if you could? And if your child has a birthday on another big day, what’s that like?

P.S. — I was at a business lunch yesterday, and people were sharing their stories. I talked about my Dad, and his decade long obsession with yellow. Yellow socks, yellow shoes, yellow clothes, yellow watch, yellow car, yellow classroom. I miss my dad. It was nice to have an excuse to talk about him.

87 thoughts on “Birthdays on Other Days”

  1. I was born on Mother’s Day and the day before my mother’s birthday (when I steal thunder, I STEAL THUNDER)! I actually kiiiind of hate it, because I always feel obligated to go in to see my mom, and it’s kiiiiind of my special time too. Also, she could have planned that better, just saying. ;)

    My dad turned 70 in June. I think 1943 was a big year! So sorry that you lost your dad so young….I’d love to know more about him! :)

    And now, an amusing 9/11 story: 9/11/01 was my friend’s 21st birthday. He started drinking when the clock struck midnight and ended up having such a fun birthday that he didn’t find out about 9/11 until 9/12. *shakes head* Only Jeff….

  2. My birthday is the fourth of July, which I think is the absolute best day for a birthday. Everyone has the day off, there are usually parties and parades and BBQ — and fireworks! Even if you know they’re not for you, they’re a pretty dynamite way to celebrate : )

    My twin daughters were born on Christmas Eve. I think that’s a hard birthday to make special, but we are finding ways to separate out time for birthday celebrations and time for Christmas. The crummy thing is that we haven’t yet really celebrated ON their actual birthday because we’re always traveling back home on the 24th. However, we have also chosen to make a big deal of their half-birthday on June 24th so that they can have a day far away from Christmas that feels like theirs, too. They do have the benefit on Christmas Eve, though, of being surrounded by family, which is pretty great.

  3. My birthday is 9/11. We live in the New York region and I have a family member who survived the attacks on WTC in ’93 and 2001. It hit very close to home. It still always surprises me when people say 9/11 is a horrible day to have a birthday. I never know what to say. You can’t control the day you were born!

    1. Oh my goodness! Yes! People are so insensitive! My bday is 9/11 too. I hate telling people my birth date because I hate bracing for reactions. Like pity and horror. It makes no sense at all! Like I can choose when I was born?

  4. About every 4th year, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving; I like it! I am also one year and 364 days older than my brother. I didn’t like that as much when we were younger (lots of shared birthday parties), but I like it more now. I think it helps me feel close to my brother, who also gets to celebrate an occasional “Thanksgiving” birthday.

  5. My birthday is on Christmas day, my dad’s is 5 days before Christmas, my brother was born the day before Thanksgiving, my mom’s birthday is the same day as father’s day this coming year, and my sister’s birthday sometimes falls on Easter- so we are plenty familiar with sharing our birthdays. I’ve always disliked having my birthday on Christmas. It’s nice to always have it off and Christmas is by far my favorite holiday (I absolutely love it, in fact!), but it’s hard to share my special day with such a big holiday. The one good part (and not so fun part): people usually know when my birthday is, but often forget it on the actual day!

  6. “It was nice to have an excuse to talk about him.”

    my mom died ten years ago (i was 17) and whenever her death comes up in conversation or when i talk about her, people always assume it’s sad and hard for me to talk about and apologize, but, like you, i’m always grateful for the opportunity to talk about her. it keeps the memory of her alive.

  7. My daughter was born on Pearl Harbor day, in 2001. I know that my grandfather had a really hard time with it, but it’s not really something most people think about now. I feel like it was a generational thing. Not that I don’t ever think about Pearl Harbor Day, but it doesn’t affect me like it does the people who lived through it.

    Pretty sure our generations version of Pearl Harbor is 9/11.

    Mine is Columbine. Also Hitler’s birthday. I don’t think about Columbine happening on my birthday as a huge deal, even though I live in Denver. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. However I STRONGLY wish people would stop reminding me that Hitler and I share a birthday. My dad is first generation American. His dads family escaped Poland, his moms Russia. It’s the knowledge of what happened to my family that makes me hate being reminded. Every year someone has to remind me, as if I’ve never heard it before.

  8. This is such an interesting topic! One I find very interesting since I have two sons, one born on leap day, and the other born on Christmas day. I also have a daughter who was born on Hitlers birthday, a fact I only know because a stranger told me so. I was very excited to have our sons on each of these days. We celebrate our leaplings birthday on the first of March on non leap years because in our minds, that’s the day he would’ve been born. And then every leap year he gets to have a really big celebration! He’s five now, so he sort of understands the concept. He loves to tell strangers he is only one years old.

    As for our Christmas baby, I’m still not sure how or when we’ll choose to celebrate it each year as he is only 1.5 years old. I think we will always have a few traditions on that day, like balloons covering the floor by the Christmas tree, maybe a special birthday breakfast etc etc. I think I’ll let him decide as he gets older if he would like to celebrate it before or after with his friends. Some valuable lessons I learned on his first birthday were: 1. I can no longer procrastinate at this time of year, if I want to give my family the Christmas they all deserve, and him the Birthday celebration that he deserves too. (last Christmas I ended up wrapping presents and blowing up balloons until 3 in the morning. Then I woke up at 5 am to bake a cake!) As a result I felt almost as exhausted as I did the same day a year before, when I had him! 2. I can’t change the fact that for everyone else (friends, relatives) it will be hard in all the Christmas shuffle for them to remember his bday. It’s not personal, it’s just too busy a time of year. To make it even and fair for all our children, me and my husband have decided that we’ll have a “no present” policy (excepting grandparents because they love to give so much) at birthday parties, that way we can control the exact amount and also the types of toys (no more play-doh toys;) Maybe it seems like not a fun solution, but honestly, they don’t need all those toys anyway:)

    I love that they were born on those days, and in my eyes, makes them all the more special and unique. I’m looking forward to finding fun ways to celebrate with them.

  9. My grandfather was born on Friday, April 13. I didn’t know him well, but the family story is that he was suspicious, and never celebrated his birthday on the 13th, no matter the day of the week! My birthday is the 14th, so I think of him, and every Friday the 13th- like today!- reminds me of him, too. I actually enjoy them more because of it.

  10. I share my birthday with my sister, but 3 years apart. I always loved how it made our day unique and special. Unfortunately my sister, being the first born, did not see it that way and felt cheated out of her own day, especially as a 3 year old having her birthday marked by the arrival of a new baby(according to my mum!). I believe this simple event has somewhat defined the dynamics of our family, my mother over compensated for the guilt she felt and placed my sister in a position of the poor victim, indulging her every wim and making her very spoilt and juvenile (even now at the age of 48!). As a child I was always “the strong and independent one that didn’t need much looking after” according to my mum and hence we have all spent our whole lives taking care of and trying to make my sister happy! I moved from the UK to the US 10 years ago and think part of me was running away for them. I know that the same scenario could of unfolded even without the birthday but it’s so interesting how a small event can have such impact.

  11. My wedding anniversary is 9/11 and I was in the North Tower of WTC so it’s a bittersweet moment each year. I try to keep in mind it was good day for me because I married the love of my life on that day and I was able to return to him 2years later. They first anniversary was extremely hard, I was pregnant and in NYC. I didn’t know of any place to go for the day that wasn’t grief stricken. We ended going to the Bronx Zoo and it was the best place. We were among other families with children so seemed wanted the same place to escape the day. Every year I remember the event in the morning by watching the memorial service then at 8:35 I speak with my friend who walked down the stairs with me. After that I spend it with my family ever grateful I survived and that they were not able to take that day for me.

  12. Gabrielle,
    Your Dad looks like a total stud. I am sorry for your loss. He must be very proud of you and your crew up there in Heaven!

    My Birthday is May 4th (“May the forth be with you”), it is a great day to be born. However, last year, my sweet Grandfather passed away on my birthday. It was very sad for me and my family. In spite of all the negative conotations of this coincidence, I consider it an honor to share the day with him. He was a very good person and I know his enterence into heaven was a happy one. I believe he was reunited with his own parents, brothers and of course his Heavenly parents on my birthday. Parting is indeed sweet sorrow.

  13. It’s been good reading all of these stories. I’m a Christmas Eve baby. I like it for the most part because as an adult, I get to be with my siblings on my birthday! They live in Seattle and I’m in Texas, so this is the only real time we get to see each other- and it makes my birthday very special. However, sometimes I wish for a day that wasn’t spent on rushing to get packed and out of the house for Christmas celebrating. Where I could go out or at least get a cake. And not get the ubiquitous bday/merry Christmas text! Ha! But all in all- it’s good. I don’t know any different! My one year old was born on Leap Day! I wonder how she will feel about this as she grows???

  14. Our son’s first birthday was the day following 9/11. We celebrated as planned. How could we not celebrate the life that God, in His wisdom and mercy, had chosen to share with us?
    Every year, as 9/11 observations are on-going, we are preparing to celebrate our son’s birthday. I weep for those lost, wonder at the bravery of the first responders (my husband is a firefighter), and move ahead with our family’s plans. I remember what President Bush said in the days following the attack — that to change the way we live is to let our enemies win. It also would lessen the sacrifice of those NYC heroes. We remember them, we honor them, and we live the lives we are blessed to have because there are free men who choose to stand between tyranny and us.

  15. I know this is slightly off topic but this article really confused me: isn’t today 11/9? I checked my calender (digitally) about four times already because I’m so freaked out… Why are you all talking about “yesterday”?

  16. Happy Birthday to your dad, in Heaven. My son (4 1/2) is obsessed with yellow also. I love that about him. So unique as a favorite color, and so happy, as well.

  17. Oh, yes! Mr. Stanley and his yellow…everything. I distinctly remember his yellow watch. I also remember him insisting that you say “zero” instead of “oh” when giving your phone number during roll call at school.

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