It happens to me every December. I get at least one birthday present that is wrapped in paper adorned with Santa or reindeer.
When your birthday is five days before Christmas, you come to expect this sort of thing.
Today is my birthday, and over the years, I've grown accustomed to my birthday being upstaged by the biggest holiday of the year.
People love to comment whenever I show my driver's license.
"It must be hard to have a birthday so close to Christmas," and "I bet you don't get as many presents."
Everyone seemingly takes pity because I have a birthday so close to Christmas.
As a young girl, I didn't enjoy having a Dec. 20 birthday. I missed out on celebrating my special day in school because of winter break.
I felt cheated that my classmates never sang me "Happy Birthday" and that my mom never got to bring in cupcakes.
If my parents planned a birthday party, many friends couldn't come because they were out of town. And it wasn't very much fun getting all of your presents at the same time of year.
I was envied friends with summer birthdays. Not only did they get fun pool parties, but they also got new presents months after Christmas had passed.
Both of my kids have spring birthdays, so they won't have to encounter the same issues. However, one of my friends has a daughter with the same birthday as mine. She asked my advice on how to make her daughter's birthday special. I told her to do what my parents did for me.
Growing up, my parents and family did a great job keeping my birthday completely separate. First of all, they never, ever combined my birthday and Christmas presents.
This meant a lot to me, especially as I got older. They also made sure that all of my birthday presents were wrapped in birthday-themed paper. Never once did they give me a present wrapped in paper with snowmen or candy canes on it.
As for my birthday parties, my parents got creative. They decided to host my party in the fall before the holidays began.
One year they even had my party over the summer so all of my friends could come and everyone could go swimming. That was the coolest thing ever.
As I got older, I came to realize that having a birthday during the holiday season wasn't so horrible, with people in festive moods and plenty of celebrations and parties going on.
I can laugh now when someone gives me a birthday present wrapped in Christmas paper, but I still remember how much I disliked it as a kid.
So if your child gets invited to a birthday party this time of year, wrap the present with birthday paper. It may seem like a simple thing, but it will mean a lot.
Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase area.