≡ Menu

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 }
  • josie December 12, 2011, 7:33 am

    May I be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday! We have several in the family with close-to-Christmas birthdays and it is hard for some to separate the 2 events. B’days get lost in the shuffle of holiday parties and presents are 2-fers. Not fair, I know. Your mil sounds like a gem at being subtle 🙂

  • Steph December 12, 2011, 7:59 am

    Maybe you should send her one that talks about kindness under the guise of a thank you card!
    Alternatively, hubby should step in and tell his mother that her passive aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

  • SarahLovesFabric December 12, 2011, 8:04 am

    I think under the circumstances, I’d send a “Jesus is the only thing that matters” card to the MIL on her next birthday, no matter when during the year it falls. After all, that’s a sentiment that, to the truly convicted, should apply equally all year round, right? She wouldn’t be able to object without giving the lie to her own motivations, and that is frequently entertaining to watch.

  • essie December 12, 2011, 8:06 am

    My family tends to be born on/around major gift-giving occassions, too, so you have my sympathy with the timing of your birthday. However, you’re mistaken. Your MIL is NOT “an expert at subtly snubbing [you] under the guise of gift giving”, although she may think she is. She’s pretty blatant about it.

  • L.J. December 12, 2011, 9:27 am

    How did your husband handle it?

  • David December 22, 2011, 5:19 am

    As essie mentioned, your mother in law is not very subtle, she’s pretty blatant about the digs she is sending you. And I have to tell you, if I were your husband she would be getting an earful just about now about the honor and respect due to you as my wife. And until said honor and respect was forthcoming, every PA thing mom sent would be sent back.

    My wife shares the same date for her birthday as yours. She has the same perks, and the same un-perks.

  • Lexie December 22, 2011, 5:53 am

    Just be super, ultra polite and sweet to her. People who use passive aggression want you to strike back so they can point out how ‘bad’ you are. Smother her with kindness – thank her profusely for remembering your birthday and taking the time to send a card. You take the high road and make her aware that you won’t be stooping to her level.

  • Ange December 22, 2011, 6:47 am

    I know the feeling. I was born on Christmas day too (so was one of my two cousins and my sister on the first of January) My inlaws actually don’t acknowledge my birthday at all. My MIL says it’s because I never congratulated FIL with his birthday, the first time me and my husband were actually together. Well, I didn’t KNOW when his birthday was, and my husband didn’t say anything (or congratulate his father for that matter) Still now I’m the one to tell my husband it’s the birthday of one of his parents and to congratulate them. But for that one ‘mistake’ I still never get wishes from them.

    My own family has always made the effort to celebrate my birthday rather than Christmas only. There would be presents for me and a little bigger then mine christmas present for my sister under the tree. Then the week after, new years day, her birthday, she would get the big birthday gifts and I would get something a bit bigger then her under the tree.
    My cousin and me would always call each other and congratulate us with our birthdays.

    I never got to celebrate with friends the day itself. Even people that don’t see their family much, usually do so at Christmas.
    Until my 30th when I finally found a way to organize a ‘all day’ buffet like thing, where people would drop in on their way to their families Christmas lunch/tea/dinner or what ever that family did. That took a lot of the negative presure off that I tended to feel in the period before Chrismas.

  • Laurita December 22, 2011, 7:23 am

    Wow! That was…extremely rude. To say the least. As if it sin’t bad enough to have your birthday overshadowed by Christmas. Subtly snubbing you would be wrapping a gift in Christmas paper and giving you a Christmas card only for your bithday. This was in-your-face Grinchiness.

  • MellowedOne December 22, 2011, 7:33 am

    I find it so sad when I hear of MIL’s who, instead of welcoming new members of the family with open arms, choose instead to create divisions and animosities.

    Your MIL is trying to get a rise out of you..she WANTS to upset you. Unfortunately, you cannot control her behavior. What you CAN do is refuse to reply in kind. Just because some decide to stoop down and wallow in the mud is no reason for us to jump in after them. Also, by your actions let her come to realize her barbs are having absolutely no effect. And, since appears to be a long-running feud, it would be more than appropriate for your husband to have a talk with his mother.

    There are benefits to this strategy. One that gets overlooked, however, is what observers perceive, especially children. There is no better way to teach children the best way to interact with others by our fine example.

  • Cobbs December 22, 2011, 7:58 am

    Please, OP, see the funny in this. Your MIL knows you are aware of her petty opinion. So, enjoy your birthday with your husband. And, don’t go to his old home for Christmas. Go at another, safer, time. My Auntie Elsie would have been 98 on the 19th, if she had lived. We were all on notice to send a birthday card before a Christmas card to her. I always did. It was fun to do and she was a great aunt. And, Happy Birthday, OP, wherever you are!

  • Margo December 22, 2011, 8:12 am

    I love SarahLovesFabric’s suggestion!

    And the ornament? I’d have been tempted to send her a thank you saying how sweet it was, and how true, and how much you and your husband love having it on your tree, in your home. (his home is the home you and he have made together, after all, not his mother’s home, now!)

    Happy Birthday for Sunday!
    I have a cousin whose birthday is tomorrow. I don’t send gifts now he is an adult, but when he was younger (he is 18 years younger than I am so I was more like an auntie than a cousin) I always made a poitn of sending a birthday gift as well as a christmas one, and I still take care to send a separate, non-christmassy card. Although as I only remembered to post it yesterday it will be late this year!

  • Shoebox December 22, 2011, 9:04 am

    I’ve got to admit, my first impulse would be to burst out laughing at the patheticness of it all… actually, I would’ve lost it at the ornament last year.

    Seriously, I know it’s not actually fun dealing with cold in-laws, and if this is part of a clear pattern of anger/jealousy towards you DH should absolutely have a pointed chat with his mom about it. But if this sort of juvenile passive-aggressive stuff is the extent of the hostilities, well… since you’re safely across the country it really does sound like a priceless source of private entertainment.

  • jena rogers December 22, 2011, 9:26 am

    I too am curious about how your husband feels about all of this. MIL sounds like she has some real problems.

  • Lulu December 22, 2011, 9:26 am

    This made me laugh, only because I have dealt with similar situations with my own MIL.
    (I have a friend with a birthday on Christmas Eve and she has often voiced similar frustration with a birthday so close to Christmas. Growing up her parents let her pick a present out from under the tree the day before and that was her “birthday” present!)

    She sounds like a winner, and I love “SarahLovesFabric”‘s idea. However, in the end…you should just laugh it off and go on your merry (get it?) way. (Your husband needs to talk with her, but even then, she may not change.)

    I recommend rising above it, and celebrating your birthday as you see fit without guilt. If you truly believe “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, then every day is a celebration of his love, and you having a piece of birthday cake will not change that. 🙂 Ignore her sour disposition; it isn’t becoming of her.
    Oh– and– Happy birthday!

  • GroceryGirl December 22, 2011, 9:33 am

    That is so ridiculous it is actually funny. It’s like she’s mad at you for being born and Christmas because you are stealing the limelight from Jesus! How dare you!

  • Susan December 22, 2011, 9:44 am

    I’d have been tempted to laugh. What a strange woman! After reading this, I’m rethinking my plans. I have a nephew that was born on Christmas day and his brother was born a week earlier! I usually would double my budget and get them a bigger gift, but I think I’ll buy two separate presents this year and wrap them appropropriately. They are little, and might not understand what I’m doing. I’d hate to come back here in 15 years and read about the Aunt they sent to E-hell. LOL!

  • The Elf December 22, 2011, 9:59 am

    Wow. Classy lady. You know MIL isn’t going to change. Although it is hard, I suggest trying to twist this into something funny and look forward to how she can one-up herself every year.

  • The Elf December 22, 2011, 10:00 am

    I’m also getting some insight into why they moved cross-country! MIL’s behavior is likely not limited to Christmas and birthday cards.

  • Huh December 22, 2011, 10:12 am

    Happy Birthday!

    And wow, that’s not even passive aggressive – that’s just plain aggressive. Your husband needs to have a talk with her about how she’s treating HIS wife.

  • siobhan December 22, 2011, 10:16 am

    You almost have to laugh.
    I had a parking lot experience two days ago with a pseudo-Christian like her. She used a lot of Bible, Jesus, and “other” words!
    If you possibly can, collect and save her comments for a blog or future book. There’s nothing wrong with a few concealed zingers either, I guess. She certainly doesn’t have the “Christian Spirit”.

  • siobhan December 22, 2011, 10:17 am

    SarahLovesFabric has the perfect answer!

  • NotCinderell December 22, 2011, 10:18 am

    How dare you think you can upstage Jesus by purposely choosing to be born on his birthday, OP? Just kidding. Happy birthday and Merry Christmas.

    Signed, NotCinderell who gave birth to her babies on Rosh Hashana and Passover.

  • Just Laura December 22, 2011, 10:22 am

    I’m born on New Year’s Eve, so I feel your pain about the birthday getting lost, etc. I hate it. Everyone’s out of town, at other parties, or out to get drunk on my birthday.

    Also, I agree with essie.

  • Mippa December 22, 2011, 10:35 am

    Count me in as one of those who wonders how your husband handled it. That behavior is utterly unacceptable and she should be ashamed of herself. As a Christian I’m ashamed that she would use the Lord as a means hurt, when Christ’s only wish is to love all. Happy Birthday, OP!!

  • Wink-n-Smile December 22, 2011, 10:39 am

    If your husband doesn’t stand up to his mother, and soon, I’m afraid this relationship will suffer. His mother = his problem.

    On the plus side, you now have an easier time of shopping for presents, since you don’t owe her a thing, for Christmas OR her birthday. You can write her completely off your list, and if she complains, you can just remind her that SHE believes that Jesus is the only one who matters and congratulations, let alone gifts, for the occassion are simply not necessary. You’re simply honoring her wishes. Year-round.

  • Otter December 22, 2011, 10:41 am

    I sooooo hope she reads here. What a scorpion!

  • Wendy December 22, 2011, 10:45 am

    Passive-aggresive people tend to deny that they are, so confronting her would probably go over her head. I hate to say it, but this looks like one of those things you just have to chalk up to that person being “not quite right.”

    Happy Birthday, though! 😀

  • Lilac December 22, 2011, 10:58 am

    That wasn’t passive agressive, it was plain agressive.

  • APage December 22, 2011, 10:58 am

    Happy Birthday, fellow Christmas baby! Fortunately for me, my former MIL was a sweetheart who always made sure I had presents under the tree wrapped in birthday paper and a birthday cake whenever we celebrated Christmas with her. My family goes to the same extreme to make sure I have a birthday as well as Christmas.

    I agree with Steph, your husband needs to tell her that her behavior is unacceptable and downright rude.

  • itsdamomma December 22, 2011, 11:00 am

    Wow. That is pretty shocking! My husband would be on that phone so fast.

  • alex December 22, 2011, 11:00 am

    Wow, the rudeness of that left my mouth hanging open! I could not believe she would do that! Yes, Christmas is about Jesus but if someone’s birthday happens to fall on Christmas it does not mean they are not important or do not deserve celebrating, which is basically what she was saying with that lovely card she gave you.

  • The New Mrs K December 22, 2011, 11:08 am

    If your MIL had any common sense or just maybe read a book she would know that Jesus wasnt actually born on Dec 25. So that entire card was a mute point. Beyond that if this is how she is all the time with her negativity and your husband is willing, I’d boot her out of my family life

  • Rhonda December 22, 2011, 11:08 am

    Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. I don’t think a greeting card is worth the energy.

  • starstruck December 22, 2011, 11:12 am

    if i were you, the next time i saw her i would give her a big hug and thank her soooo much for her birthday card. this will throw her and she will probably feel a little bad. people who do things like this do so to get a neggative reaction or just to make you feel bad. so when we combat their efforts with the , kill them with kindness method, it throws them lol. it works . almost everytime:) it takes away their ability to feel like they have an up and you and actually it makes them feel like dirt .

  • twik December 22, 2011, 11:12 am

    Is it possible to get a card for her birthday that’s really intended as a wedding card, with the reference to “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife”?

  • Phoebe161 December 22, 2011, 11:15 am

    My birthday is the day after Christmas, so I know a little about what you mean. (“Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday!” gifts, no friends around for a party etc) However, what your MIL is doing is cruel. I would rather be ignored than have those stunts pulled. I agree with the other posters–what does hubby have to say about this? Where is his spine? And even if DH says something to mommy dearest, I’d bet money she’ll try to turn it around & make herself the “victim” & the OP the “victimizer.”

  • SV December 22, 2011, 11:17 am

    Ouch! I’d say your mother in law has a few issues to work through. You should help her with that. For example, I love the idea that Sarahlovesfabric suggested – send he a religious based card on her birthday, stressing the fact that Jesus is the only one that matters. Be sure to let her know that you took her card to heart and thought you would pass the sentiment along 🙂

  • Kitty Lizard December 22, 2011, 11:26 am

    I was born at 11:55 on Christmas Eve, and my mother never forgave me for having to spend
    Christmas day in the hospital. (I know this because she reminded me of it every year.) Never
    had a birthday party. Always got two in one gifts. S*cks to be me. S*cks to be you. Never got
    a birthday card from my MIL. Not once in 40 years. My husband tried the two in one. Once.
    All I can say, is, it’s just bad luck. You don’t have to work on your birthday, but it has more
    drawbacks than benefits. However, there is one thing worse than being born on Christmas Eve,
    and Christmas Day. Being born the day after. Everything’s over and everybody’s over it. That’s

  • Hemi Halliwell December 22, 2011, 11:37 am

    Happy birthday, OP. My nephew was born on Dec. 24th so he gets alot of “combined” gifts, too.

    Your MIL needs to learn that her husband is grown man who can move anywhere he wants, marry whomever he pleases and she should just cut the apron strings and get over it. Being bitchy to his wife is not the way to insure lots of visits!

  • PChan December 22, 2011, 11:42 am

    Gee. No wonder the OP lives so far away from MIL. 😀

  • Allie December 22, 2011, 11:54 am

    How hurtful! But it’s an indication that she has absolutely no grasp of the foundational beliefs of Christianity or the message of Jesus (I’m not a practicing Christian, and if pressed, in fairness I would have to describe myself as agnostic, but I was raised Catholic and have always had an interest in early church history). I imagine Jesus would be the first to tell you “Baby, it’s all about you; after all, I was born for you and I gave my life for you.”

  • spartiechic December 22, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Wow! I’m simply speechless at this one. Sounds like someone to just ignore and take the higher road.

  • Cat December 22, 2011, 12:23 pm

    My Mother had the same problem-Christmas baby. All her life she got one present for both events and always wrapped in Christmas paper. She had two children-both born in August.
    Your MIL is about as subtle as an elephant in the kitchen. Don’t get down on her level and try to pay her back. You don’t want to be that kind of a person. If you didn’t give birth to her or marry her, her behavior is not your problem.
    Your reaction to this is your responsiblity. I think I’d wait until I saw her and then gently explain how her behavior looks to you. ” My dear, I was puzzled as to the Christmas card you sent me with the note that Jesus is the only important person. We had already received a lovely card from you for Christmas. Did you forget it was my birthday on the 25th and you meant to send a birthday card? Please don’t worry about it, though. We all become forgetful in the Christmas rush.” Confront her with what she did and let her explain it if she can. Few bullies will stand up to you when you don’t act angry or hurt, just puzzled by their behavior.

  • Ashley December 22, 2011, 12:36 pm

    Wow, that’s just rude.

  • Library Diva December 22, 2011, 12:56 pm

    You must be extremely relieved to be across the country from your MIL. I’m sorry you have that in your life. Happy birthday and merry Christmas, and I must say, it’s nice to see a story of a very clear-cut etiquette violation after the ambiguity of the past couple of weeks.

  • WildIrishRose December 22, 2011, 1:14 pm

    Yikes! I too have a December birthday, and while I never had to worry about Christmas and birthday being too close together (mine’s a couple of weeks before Christmas), I did have to share birthday parties with my brother, who was born four days after I turned one year old. I never had my own birthday party until I was 18! (My brother passed away several years ago, and I now wish I could share just one more party with him–but I digress.)

    Aside from my own birthday, my FIL, one BIL, one SIL and one ex-SIL, one niece-in-law, and my son’s GF all have December birthdays, so we have an annual party for all of us. My MIL once tried to boycott the December birthdays (it’s become a running joke), and I was the only one who didn’t object. My caveat: Feel free to boycott the December birthdays, O Dear MIL who was born on Leap Day, but if that happens then anyone born on February 29 gets a card once every four years.” End of boycott. 🙂

  • Nannerdoman December 22, 2011, 1:25 pm

    Yeah, because Jesus is all about conscious cruelty. Way to spread His love, MIL.

    A very happy birthday to you from me, and from Jesus, who loves you and is glad you share His birthday.

  • Calliope December 22, 2011, 1:47 pm

    My jaw just dropped. I mean, that’s so pathetically rude it’s almost funny. Happy birthday, OP.

  • Orwellian December 22, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I think her passive aggressiveness is rather more aggressive than passive. In a way, though, it’s almost a gift; you know for sure that it’s not you but her and you know that there’s nothing you can reasonably do to get her to be pleasant towards you. A woman who uses the baby Jesus to attack you is a woman who’s heart is at least three sizes too small.

    I was born a few days after Christmas, as was my father, and my brother was born on the Fourth of July. I sympathize with you for those ‘double presents’. What really bothers my father and I is that we have to share a birthday cake (we like the same kind, yellow cake with chocolate frosting). Cake should not be shared.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.