Happy Birthday To Me

When I cash a check at the grocery store and am asked to produce my driver's license for identification, frequently the person who accepts my check will comment, "Wow, you're a Christmas baby."

Then comes the question about how being born on a major holiday is a problem or an honor for me.

I react to the comments with mixed emotions.

"No, I don't get cheated. Nobody ever forgets my birthday. As a matter of fact, friends and relatives go out of their way to make sure my birthday doesn't get lost in the holiday frenzy. I get cards, telephone and email greetings and gifts off the charts."

At the same time, because I host the traditional family celebration at my house, I work harder on that date than on any other day of the year. It's been that way for all of my adult life. So it's a mixed bag.

Then throw into the hopper that for the past thirty years I've been an atheist. I provide Christmas for my dearly loved relatives, but I, personally, do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.

Since December 25th is my birthday and that fact draws so much attention, I thought I'd check to see how many other people with that same birth-date I could find. In my whole life, and I'm not going to tell you how many years that is, I have never run across one other person who was born on December 25th. I know. I know. That's the date that Christians have chosen to celebrate the birth their savior. There is no registered birth certificate. Therefore, an exact date cannot be determined.

I thought that if I randomly selected 366 people from the telephone directory and called each one to ask their birth-date, it would be highly probable that I'd find only one born on December 25th, one person that I could share a birth-date with. It made sense to me.

However, people who are way more knowledgeable about statistics than I am told me I'm full of beans. The likelihood of 366 randomly selected people having 366 different birth-dates is highly improbable. That means there could be 366 or zero people with a December 25th birth-date in the sample. It's like a shake of the dice, or the lottery. Well, I'm just an ordinary person and I don't know how to figure the odds. I guess that's why I'm not addicted to gambling.

I could have gone to the census reports, or maybe birth records to find others who were born on December 25th, but I thought that method would yield more birthday sharers than I could handle in a short column. So I cut it down to size by looking on the Internet for famous people, people whose names we all recognize, who were born on my birthday. As it turns out, I'm in some very good company.

First off, I'd like to say Happy Birthday to Sir Isaac Newton. He was born in 1642. In a note to a colleague he is recorded as having said that the reason he was able to achieve so much is because he stood on the shoulders of giants. Well, now others are standing on Newton's shoulders. "Principia" is still considered the greatest scientific book ever written.

Happy Birthday to Robert Ripley too. He was born on December 25, 1893. While Newton tried to explain the universe, Ripley only showed. He didn't tell. He collected oddities from around the world and left it up to his audience to "Believe it or Not". Ripley himself was considered somewhat of an oddity. He drew his cartoons upside down. The cartoons were upside down, not Ripley. He collected cars, but he never learned to drive one.

Clara Barton born in 1821 brought sox and bandages to soldiers in the front lines during the Civil War and the American Red Cross was born. Then she became active in extending the services of the Red Cross from wartime only to providing help to civilian victims of a natural disaster. Next time there's a flood, a hurricane, a famine, an earthquake, or any other natural disaster, we can rest assured that the Red Cross will be there to help. Happy Birthday to Clara Barton.

"The Big Sleep", "Caine Mutiny", "Casablanca", "Key Largo", "The Maltese Falcon", "Sabrina", "To Have and Have Not", "The African Queen" to name a few of his over eighty films. Yup you got it. Humphrey Bogart born on December 25,1899. He is said to be the actor most imitated by others. Happy Birthday Humphrey Bogart and, "Here's looking at you kid".

"No one can build his happiness at the expense and misery of others." Anwar Sadat, born on December 25th in Egypt in 1917. He succeeded Nasser as President of his country and initiated a new momentum for peace that would eventually culminate in the 1978 Camp David Accords and a final peace treaty with Israel in 1979. For his efforts, Anwar Sadat won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Rod Serling won more Emmy Awards for writing than anyone in television history. "The Twilight Zone" was his best know creation. Happy Birthday to Rod Serling who was born on December 25, 1924.

Happy Birthday also to Ron Foos of Paul Revere and the Raiders, Barbara Mandrell, country music star, Jimmy Buffett, rock and pop star, Gary Sand of television soaps fame, Ricky Henderson, Annie Lennox, Sissy Spacek, Dido, Cab Calloway and Conrad Hilton.

And Happy Birthday to all you other people out there who were born on December 25th—famous or not.

    —M. LaCourt

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