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Sharing A Birthday With Jesus

On my birthday, I received the tackiest, most passive-aggressive card I’ve ever received in my life, and I instantly thought of e-hell.

A bit of background: I’m a Christmas baby, born on Christmas day. Now most people instantly think,  “Oh, how special, you must love your birthday.”   Wrong. Now to be fair, it has perks. I’ve never had to go to school or work on my birthday, and I’ll never have a birthday that feels like “just another day.”  The perks end there. Besides the two-in-one gifts, I have to share my birthday with Santa, Rudolph, and yes…  Jesus. My MIL (who’s never been terribly fond of me) is an expert at subtly snubbing me under the guise of gift giving. For example, last year, she sent us a Christmas ornament that said “All good hearts come home” (my husband relocated cross country to be with me, much to her dismay).

So this year, we received two cards from her. One was a standard Christmas card for both of us. The other was a card, addressed to me. I was thinking, “Oh, how sweet, she remembered my birthday.” The front of the card was a picture of a baby in a manger. It said, “Christmas… it’s all about Jesus.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, it’s a religious birthday card!” So I opened it, expecting to find something cute printed inside about my being born on the same day as Jesus… but instead, it read,  “And when you get right down to it, he’s the only thing that really matters.” She’d underlined “he’s” with a pen. Underneath she’d written “Happy birthday,” but it wasn’t even a birthday card! SO rude!   0107-11

{ 90 comments… add one }
  • Abby December 22, 2011, 2:15 pm

    This made me laugh, but only because I have an uncle I can imagine sending that same card to me, with the same underlining, if I had been born on Christmas Day! I agree it’s incredibly rude, however, to send a “birthday” card with the intent to tell you your birthday doesn’t matter at all.

  • Kirsten December 22, 2011, 2:17 pm

    Oh, that’s a shame. Two of my cousins, who are siblings, have birthdays 22nd and 24th December, which is bad enough, yours is worse. And what a mean mother in law. Does she think you chose to be born on Christmas Day?

    Tell her you’re the next Messiah and she’s on the naughty list.

  • Pam B December 22, 2011, 2:22 pm

    I’m a Christmas baby and I will say that I love it!! But the idea behind that birthday card was rude. Instead of saying Happy Birthday, it goes out of the way to say “your birthday is very unimportant” ..not subtle at all. If she had wanted to honor Jesus, she should have gone out of her way to communicate her love to you – being rude in His name accomplished just the opposite.

  • Aje December 22, 2011, 2:26 pm

    SarahLovesFabric´s suggestion totally made me laugh. I second the question about how your husband handles this (although I guess he can´t really do much anyway, and you already have the luck of not living in the same state as her!)

  • Brenda December 22, 2011, 2:32 pm

    I agree with SarahLovesFabric, if you’re comfortable doing that.

    At least your MIL is on the other side of the country. Mine is only 15 minutes away. And she’s a lawyer, the steamroller type. And she thinks she’s always the smartest person in the room. If you’re the smartest person in the room, cool, but just because you’re the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean everyone else is stupid. She always gets this shocked look when I make a riposte that completely undercuts any argument she was making.

  • TJ December 22, 2011, 2:35 pm

    LJ – He handled it by moving across the country.

  • Goodness December 22, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Aw, sorry to hear that, OP! As a kid I was always sorry for my grandfather because I thought his Christmas birthday was unfair, but your MIL it taking ‘unfair’ to new depths. IMO this isn’t just a lack of manners but a truly nasty person, and I suspect that it was not only to be with you that your DH moved clear across the country from her.

    I love SarahLovesFabric’s suggestion that you send MIL a similar card on _her_ birthday but fear it might start something even uglier that you’d rather not get into. I agree that you and your husband need to — together — tell her you’re onto her game and it needs to stop, and if it doesn’t, you need to be prepared to eliminate her as much as possible from your lives. At the very least, stop reading her cards. Let your hubby open them in case there’s money for the grandkids, something like that, and then toss them. Let him sign a thank you card in both your names mentioning any gift but not the nature of her — er — greeting. Holiday Blessings!

  • Miss Raven December 22, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Agreed with the previous commenters. When you’re dealing with a toxic MIL, your husband needs to stand up for you. Not because you can’t do it on your own (because you are strong and intelligent), but because he needs to show his mother that he stands with YOU as a united front. I’ve been there, and things won’t get any better until your husband puts his mother in her place.

  • travestine December 22, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Just. Wow. Wishing you an early happy birthday and hope your husband does something special for you to make up for his crass mother! No wonder you all moved across country! Seriously, though, I do like the idea of sending HER a “Jesus is the most important thing card” on HER birthday – not a Christmas card, but just an everyday card – there are lots of them out there. Find one and save it for the occasion. Maybe not the most polite response, but perhaps she’d get how it feels. Sounds like she’s blaming you for being born on Jesus’ birthday! She should be sending that card to your parents!

  • Justine December 22, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Sarahlovesfabric is right! Take a cue from your MIL: Jesus’ birthday is the only one that matters so send her the same type of card no matter when her birthday is. Seriously though, my MIL has, for 10 years, sent my birthday card to me late. When my husband has pointed it out she says it is the fault of the post office in the big city we moved too. Yeah, except for the fact that it is postmarked 3 days AFTER my birthday from the post office in HER tiny town.

  • Cat Whisperer December 22, 2011, 3:54 pm

    When I was a small child, my best friend across the street was a boy whose birthday was Christmas day.

    At first I didn’t believe him. NOBODY could possibly have a birthday the same as Christmas! (I was 5 at the time.) But he showed me a clipping from the newspaper, of an article when he was born, about his being born on Christmas day. (We lived in what was then a very small town where a baby being born on Christmas day rated a story in the local paper.)

    My friend’s parents did something I didn’t understand at the time: they celebrated his birthday on June 25.

    As a kid, I thought this verged on illegal. How could you celebrate a birthday on a day other than your birthday? It didn’t seem right.

    As an adult, I admire the wisdom of my friend’s parents. They spared him all the combined Christmas/birthday presents and the shortchanging of his celebration with the holiday festivities taking center stage. He got a real birthday celebration, and it worked out beautifully. (The family would have a small private celebration on his actual birthday.)

    Just wanted to mention that because I thought it was relevant. Now, to the nasty MIL and what she did.

    She is who she is. She sounds like a life-sucking toxic personality who is evidently the kind of person who would swat a buttefly because it’s an insect and snarl at a rainbow because they only come after bad weather. That’s really pitiable, when you come to think of it.

    These kind of people only have the power to hurt that we choose to give them. If you reduce her in your mind to a pathetic figure, and a very unhappy one at that, and distance yourself from her as much as possible, you effectively “de-fang” her. She cannot hurt you: she’s too pathetic for that.

    Celebrate your birthday with people you love, and laugh at her pathetic attempts to hurt you.

  • Genevieve December 22, 2011, 4:07 pm

    How awful! I’ve received some PA cards in my day, but that’s a pretty bad one.

    I always feel bad for those whose Birthdays fall on gift giving holidays, like Christmas. I know a few kids who essentially didn’t have birthdays because their parents didn’t want to make one child feel bad by giving them more presents than the others.

    My first Christmas with my husband’s family, I was confused why his mother ran around midnight at Christmas taking down all of the decorations – I understood once I realized her birthday was December 26th. She said she wanted them to be two distinct days. Interestingly, my husband (her son) was born on January 2nd.

    For those of you thinking of having children in the future, I like the idea of celebrating their “half Birthday” or “name day.” For example, I have a cousin who was born on December 25th, but because he was named Patrick they celebrate his birthday on St. Patrick’s day.

  • Dear! December 22, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Tee Hee. These are the kinds of things you can only laugh at. These type of family members become legendary in our family and their tantrums or, in your case, kettle steam, is simply laughed at and no ne takes them serious.

    I’ve often been templed to write about my Evil Cousin, who does simiar things, albeit with more malice, but I dont think I’d have enough time to write them all.

  • Oh Joy December 22, 2011, 4:11 pm

    That’s beyond passive-agressive and into direct insult. I avoid conflict and confrontation to a fault, yet I see this as grounds for an inquiry as to her intentions.

  • Ann December 22, 2011, 4:22 pm

    First, Happy (early) Birthday!

    Second, she isn’t so subtle, actually.

    I’d be tempted to add a note to the card and send it back to her. Something like — “Kindness, thoughfulness and love matter, too. Luckily there is plenty of that in our house. Signed, OP & OP’s Hubby”.

    Perhaps, in hubby’s handwriting?

  • June December 22, 2011, 5:46 pm

    @Cat Whisperer–Great idea for the half-birthday celebration!

    My sister was born on July 5 (a firecracker baby!) and her elementary school teachers would celebrate the summer birthdays with half-birthdays during the school year.

  • Emmerton December 22, 2011, 5:54 pm

    I can see why your husband moved across the country!

  • Andie December 22, 2011, 6:07 pm

    I’m with the other people that are wondering what your husband thinks of this.

    I wouldn’t let anyone send such a nasty— and it’s not passive-aggressive, or accidentally a little rude, it’s NASTY— card to my husband. I wouldn’t let my parents disrespect the one I chose to spend my life with, because when they do that they also disrespect me.

    Happy Birthday, OP.

  • WildIrishRose December 22, 2011, 6:14 pm

    OP, let me add my happy birthday wishes to everyone else’s!

  • Cathy December 22, 2011, 7:48 pm

    I don’t know who wrote this except it says ADMIN. Anyway, at first I thought this was funny, but then I felt saddened by it. It IS rude, as you say…….and hurtfully insulting. It upset me and I’m not even part of it. A little compassionate civility would have gone a long way with this particular and very unique importance in time. My sincere Happy Birthday wishes to you on this Special Day of the Lord. It’s mine as well.!!!! What an honor !!!!! God bless and Merry Christmas to you and all the readers. Love in Christ, Cathy

  • Cat December 22, 2011, 8:37 pm

    This is really off the point, but you might point out to MIL that Jesus was not born on December 25th and you were. The Church used pagan holidays already in existance to celebrate Christian events because it created less turmoil and people were already used to them. We only know when Easter actually comes because of Passover.

    Christians know that Christ Jesus was born in the Spring because it is the only time of the year in which shepherds stay with their flocks at night-lambing season requiring shepherds to be present at all hours.

  • Cat Whisperer December 22, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Genevieve, I had to grin about your comment about your MIL wanting to make sure Christmas and her December 26th birthday were two separate, distinct days.

    One of my co-workers married a woman whose birthday was February 15th. She made a point of telling her husband-to-be that Valentine’s Day and her birthday were two separate, distinct occasions, and there would be consequences for forgetting that. They were happily married for more than 30 years before the husband passed away, and he NEVER tried to combine her birthday with Valentine’s day.

  • SJ December 22, 2011, 11:50 pm

    At first, a few of the things she did were clever and subtle enough that you’d have a hard time proving she had bad intentions. But, goodness, writing happy birthday on a Christmas card just to be rude? Not very Christian, is it?

    Happy Birthday, by the way!

  • Stacey Frith-Smith December 23, 2011, 1:12 am

    What can you do but laugh? And don’t forget to celebrate your birthday! As they say, living well is the best revenge.

  • Elizabeth December 23, 2011, 10:49 am

    Lexie has it exactly right (no, not SarahLovesFabric).

    Passive aggressive people are manipulators and she is manipulating her son in all of this. His attitude will help shape the future. To strike back will heighten the manipulation as MIL becomes a ‘victim.’ You don’t want to go there.

    Happy Birthday and ignore the mean, nasty, crazy people of the world (yes, even if they are family members – been there, done that).

  • Wink-n-Smile December 23, 2011, 10:52 am

    Call her up, laughing, and thank her profusely for the “hilarious” birthday card. “Oh, MIL! It was sooooo funny! We laughed so hard! My friends all think it’s the most hilarious birthday card they’ve ever seen! You should have seen their faces! And then I scanned it and sent it to all the relatives. It was brilliant! Thank you so much!”

    If you’re lucky, she may never dare do anything like it again, for fear she’ll be shamed by all your friends and family.

  • Paige December 23, 2011, 11:11 am

    Well your MIL is a terrible person and I agree completely with Cat.

  • Margaret December 23, 2011, 12:54 pm

    WAIT — my brother was born just before Christmas. I used to give him two in one gifts BUT I always spent more on his one gift than I ever did on the birthday plus Christmas gifts of any of our brothers. And I wrap December gifts in Christmas paper, but then I also wrap July gifts in Christmas paper — that’s just what I have!!!

  • Politrix December 23, 2011, 2:20 pm

    Happy Birthday! Have a lovely day, and many more! 🙂
    No comment about the nasty MIL… it’s already been said, so I’ll just reinforce the positive and say have a great birthday AND a Merry Christmas AND a Happy New Year!

  • icekat December 23, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I have to wonder about the company that would print and distribute a card like that. I can’t think of any circumstance where it would be appropriate to send. Is there that much of a market for snotty, self-satisfied, passive-aggressive nastiness?

  • Lesli December 24, 2011, 1:08 am

    I like Wink-n-Smile’s idea. Often people see their actions in a much different light when they know that it’s exposed to others. Maybe knowing you will share stories will make her think twice about what she does in the future. And, though I feel for you, if you look at it a certain way it *is* kind of funny. 😉 Inappropriate, but funny in it’s obviousness. Do get your hubby involved as others have said, so it’s not a “you and her” thing. Maybe he could be the one to tell her how funny it was, and how you both shared it with people.

    Also, happy birthday!

  • Yvaine December 24, 2011, 9:32 am

    icekat wrote: “I have to wonder about the company that would print and distribute a card like that. I can’t think of any circumstance where it would be appropriate to send. Is there that much of a market for snotty, self-satisfied, passive-aggressive nastiness?”

    I don’t think the card is inherently bad if given as a Christmas card–rather than birthday–and given between people who know their audience really well. I could see one really religious person giving it to another really religious person with nothing but good feeling behind it.

    It’s also possible the MIL made it herself on her computer. I used to know someone who would print up religious-lecturing cards for loved ones.

  • Etta Kett December 25, 2011, 2:47 pm

    I would think most people think having a birthday on Christmas is lame, not cool. I’ve never envied you, as my birthday was right in the middle of the year, so I was always less than 6 months from getting the gizmo or whatever I wanted at the time. My sister-in-law has the same b-day and has had the combo gift issue. Family usually tries to make an effort to make a distinction between the two, but her birthday cake still says every year “Happy Birthday ‘Sissy’ and Jesus” hehe…

  • Order December 26, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Bad thing for a mil to do

    It,s easy enough to make a birthday on Xmas special if folks would just go to the little extra trouble. We have a Christmas baby in our family and we pick her up after school on the last day befor Xmas vacation, go out to eat ata fancy restaurant and present her gifts to her there, sometimes we take one special friend with us and go to a tea place and then a movie–why the possibilities are endless with just a little thought

  • Redblues December 26, 2011, 7:45 pm

    From now on every card she ever got from me would have a picture of Jesus on it and a reminder that HE’S the only one who matters. For mother’s day, I would take her to church instead of dinner. After all, HE’S the only one who matters! I’m beginning to think E-Hell Dame needs another website just for horrible in-law stories.

  • Norma December 28, 2011, 2:03 pm

    My mother started a family tradition of one-upping birthdays, both my father’s and mine. My father’s birthday is June 12, and their wedding was on June 11. So, his birthday was always given short shrift, coming in second to their wedding anniversary. Then, when my sister was to be married, she chose the day after my birthday for her nuptials, and when my father had the balls to wish me a happy birthday on my day, my mother threw a hissy fit and informed him “we are not doing that this year!” Since my sister’s wedding, all my birthday cards arrive one day late because my parents just “cannot seem to remember which day is which,” my birthday or my sister’s anniversary. So this year my sister’s daughter got married, and being unable to schedule her wedding on my parents anniversary (talk about trying to horn in!) she scheduled it the day after my sister’s wedding anniversary and two days after my birthday. I expect my birthday cards will now arrive two days late!

  • hammiesmom December 28, 2011, 8:19 pm

    I almost blew my coffee out of my nose when I read this one! Way too funny for words to truly convey. Having said that, if you decide to be PA back you will lose. Your MIL will end up appearing to be the victim and you will be the bad guy. However, I love the idea of calling her up, laughing and letting her know how much you enjoyed her joke! Let her know that everyone thought it was fabulous and how many folks/friends/family members you shared it with. I would end the call with “I can’t wait to see what you do to top this one next year!” If she comes back with it wasn’t a joke thing than I would call her on it… “well, MIL, what did you mean by that then if it wasn’t a joke?”

    I am in the two-days-after-club myself. My parents always had a present wrapped seperately and when we could we would go out for dinner at my favorite restraunt and hit up a movie. Nothing over the top but it was great. I also received the twofers-gifts as well. Now that I am older (and wiser?) I don’t really worry about it at all anymore. I appreciate being around for another year and my husband actually got me B-day gifts this year! He did wrap them in Christmas wrap but made sure to lable them as B-day gifts… then sat around after all the Christmas gifts had been opened up and kept saying that it would “really” be okay if I wanted to open them early (hint, hint)… LOL! I didn’t mind and opened them for him to enjoy as well as the rest of our immediate family.

    My suggestion is to speak with your husband and make sure is you are both comfortable with how you will proceed on how to deal with this type of behaviour. Perhaps just acknowledging that it has happened and letting it go is enough. Having said he moved across the contry to be with you makes me think she has been PA for much of his life and he has chosen how he wants to spend his life… with you! Nice “agressive” move on his part!

  • Enna January 2, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Sarahlovesfabric I like your idea. At work a colleauge knows someone whose child was born on Christmas Day and they celebrated the party a week before. I think it is bad for people to buy only one gift for people born on Christmas Day where they buy a seprate birthday and christmas present for everyone else. Unless of course they spend more on it.

    One year my Mum’s birthday was a bit cl0ser to Mother’s Day than normal so I asked a firend’s mum is it okay to buy one bigger present? She said “YES!”.

  • Cheryl January 3, 2012, 9:40 am

    My question is what did the husband do? I hope that he talked to his mother about this rude behavior and if not she needs to divorce him. This issue may not be huge when you get down to the rude birthday card but it is obvious that the MIL doesn’t like her one bit this will cause issues. MIL and wife do not need to love each other but respect each other. The MIL needs to get over herself and accept that her son moved and is hopefully happy, he made the decision MIL get over it, what did his wife ever do to you besides moving?

  • Josephine August 29, 2012, 10:09 pm

    As a fellow Christmas baby, I sincerely sympathize with you when you speak of the inconveniences of a Christmas birthday. Whenever a cashier sees my identification for a transaction and squeals, “Oh, you’re a Christmas baby,” I just reply, “It had to happen to somebody.”

    I haven’t had to endure such blatant hostility from in-laws (my sister in law is much less obvious about it). I recommend you don’t lower yourself to your MIL’s level by behaving as she does. Just be grateful she lives so far away.

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