Taking the cake

December is a dangerous month

My birthday is in December. If your birthday is too, you may already be shaking your head sadly, thinking of me, your brother, whose birthday like yours is yearly tainted by its proximity to the most destructive holiday on the calendar. Indeed, Santa’s pitiless steel-shod boots can already be heard crunching the frozen earth as they come stomping our way, his chuckle a dry-throated rattle. Every holiday has a certain negative effect on nearby birthdays, but who can dispute that Christmas, both figuratively and literally, takes the cake?

If your birthday is not in December, you may be thinking “Quit your bitching,” or perhaps “You poor sad loser.” But listen to this: you may not know that even among us Sagittarians, there is an enormous difference between celebrating on, say, the 11th and the 20th. Do we share a bonding camaraderie? Hardly. My day of days is the 16th, so to me the 11th hardly counts. Hah! The 11th? That’s like in August as far as I’m concerned. I used to lay awake at night and dream about being born on December 11th. If your birthday is on the 11th, then don’t come crying to me, because I’m not having any of it.


It so happens that a Very Good Friend of mine (and contributor to the Star Chamber), Damiana, was born on the 20th. When she whines about how close HER birthday is to the 25th, naturally my reaction is “You poor sad loser.” I snicker quietly to myself and think about how much closer I am to the Fourth of July. Why it makes me want to buy sparklers and squirt guns for my birthday party. Nevertheless, it was Damiana who brought to my attention a particularly penetrating analysis of the true effect of Christmas on birthdays.

Based on this analysis, here is an illustration of part of the December calendar with some tabular annotations regarding the traumatic effects of Christmas on nearby birthdays. For this research, we have borrowed from some studies previously considered unrelated to this topic.


A. Vaporization Point

100% Gift Occlusion

Everything is vaporized by the Christmas blast.

B. Total Destruction

90% Gift Occlusion

All birthday party activities above ground are destroyed. The “Happy Birthday Song,” if attempted, is completely inaudible. Third-degree Duraflame ™ burns have been reported among would-be celebrants.

C. Severe Blast Damage

50% Gift Occlusion

Birthday party survivors report buffeting and bruising. Though gifts are reported at this distance, they are generally simply subtracted from projected Christmas presents for a zero net change from the non-birthday baseline. This is known as X-mas radiation.

D. Heat and Wind Damage

15% Gift Occlusion

At this distance, little or no sympathy is reported among bystanders. The diminished Christmas winds can still extinguish the candles on a cake. Party hats secured with a rubber strap, though likely to remain on throughout the celebration, look quite silly (that is, sillier than usual).

Notice the plume of destruction falls mostly to the left of Christmas. This is an example of a counter-flowing temporal wind, or anticipatory time eddy. Most events, particularly unexpected events like earthquakes and hurricanes, experience a prevailing temporal wind and so influence later events more heavily than earlier ones. This is the more typical down-calendar causative flow. But nothing on the entire calendar, not even tax day on April 15th, is more anticipated than Christmas, hence the reversal of the normal temporal forces. Don’t you just know some jackass on the 26th will say: “Only 364 more shopping days till next Christmas!”

All this raises the rather interesting question of when the BEST POSSIBLE time is to have a birthday. Simple holiday avoidance would likely put it in the middle of August, the only month of the year completely devoid of national holidays. But August, alas, is often battered by family vacations, and Pandora (another Very Good Friend of Paracelsus) reports that family vacation birthdays can be angst-ridden occasions in their own right. Just try lighting birthday candles in a canoe in the pouring rain three hundred miles from home.

Do you have good birthday timing? Let us know. Bad birthday timing? Even better; send us a message. In the meantime, be kind to the Sagittarians in your midst. More than most, they are victimized the most vicious cultural vortex our society offers. Duck and cover, hop in a fallout shelter, put a candle in a cupcake and wish them well. And as long as you’re out of harm’s way, you might consider staying down there until the new year. It’s a dangerous time to be outside.