Locals who share Dec. 25 birthdate know both sides to story

Roanoke resident Merry Christine Elliott will celebrate her birthday along with Christmas on Dec. 25.
Roanoke resident Merry Christine Elliott will celebrate her birthday along with Christmas on Dec. 25. Photo by Ehren Wynder.

The official birthday of one of the most famous persons in the universe will be celebrated around the world on Friday.

However, that celebration sometimes overshadows lots of other people who just happened to be born on Dec. 25, including some in Huntington County.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” says Sandy Feichter, of Huntington, who will turn 33 on Friday.

“I really enjoy it because I get to spend that time with my family every year, so you’re always together celebrating.

“But the downside is that, depending on the person, it’s like one gift — ‘Merry birthday-happy Christmas.’”

Another downside is that not everyone is around on Dec. 25 to celebrate birthdays.

“Of course, in Indiana, there’s generally snow this time of year,” Feichter says. “A lot of people are gone on Christmas break for their family holiday, so when you have a birthday party most people are usually gone.”

While Feichter says that as an adult, it’s not a big issue anymore, she says it was important to her as a child to have her birthday separated from the holiday.

“When I was real young, we would celebrate two weeks before Christmas,” she says. “I would say definitely separate the birthday from the actual holiday. That way, that person knows that people are specifically there for them for their birthday.”

Although Feichter doesn’t have any plans yet for how she’ll celebrate her special day on Friday, her favorite birthday occurred last year, when she went running and left her 5-year-old daughter with a teenaged babysitter.

“When I came home, they had made birthday cards, decorated the house with paper chains and wrote ‘Happy Birthday’ on it, and that was pretty great,” she says.
Merry Christine Elliott, of Roanoke, is also celebrating her birthday on Christmas Day.

Elliott was born in Lafayette in 1953, the oldest of four siblings. She says that her family would push Christmas Day back to Christmas Eve to make room for her birthday.

“We opened our presents Christmas Eve,” Elliott says. “And then Christmas morning, I would get a gift wrapped in birthday paper. And my mom always baked a cake.”

Elliott says her Christmas birthday was never a problem for her until she turned 16. She never got her own birthday party with friends because school would be out. But now it’s just another day to her.

“Once you reach a certain age it’s no big deal,” Elliott says. “Probably in my late 20s, early 30s, my mom would still bake me a birthday cake, but no one ate it. At Christmas time you got all these cookies, all this other stuff.”

Elliott says sometimes as a child it didn’t feel fair, but her family at least tried to make it fair.

“All the attention was on Christmas, and all the other kids had a special day for their birthday, and I had to share mine,” she says.

“But everyone got the same. They all knew that the other present I got was a birthday present, not a Christmas present.”

Elliott remembers one year when her mother didn’t give her presents for both days.

“She gave me something and she said, ‘This is for your birthday and Christmas.’”

Elliott was not happy at all about that. She decided she would repay her in kind the following year.

“Now, her birthday’s in February,” Elliott explains. “So the next year I gave her a gift and said, ‘This is for your birthday and Christmas.’ She didn’t do it again after that. But now I tell her not to buy me anything.”

Elliott now has a husband and two stepdaughters to help her observe her birthday.

“My stepdaughters always make sure I get a card and stuff for my birthday,” Elliott says. “And my husband will take me shopping and say, ‘What do you want?’ Or I’ll come home and say, ‘See what you bought me for my birthday?’”

For Tia Jackson, of Huntington, Dec. 25 is also a blessing and a curse — but perhaps more of a blessing, she says.

“Nobody ever forgets my birthday,” she says. “It’s kind of neat to have it on a special day, to share it with Jesus.”

She will turn 25 on Christmas Day and says her parents have always been good about making sure she’s not slighted when it comes to celebrating both Jesus’ — and her — birthday.

“In the morning they’ll do Christmas and after Christmas dinner, later in the day, we’ll do my birthday and have the cake and all that in the end.”

Even though she’s been married about 20 months and lives away from her parents’ home, Jackson still gets a birthday cake from her mom.

“It’s kind of important for her to spend our birthdays with her,” she adds.

Jackson relishes the memories she has of being born on a special day.

“When I was little, I always wondered why I had a Christmas tree for my birthday, but not my brothers’. I thought I was extra special,” she says. “But then I was mad, because I never got presents on their birthdays.”

Birthday cake is also a tradition for Dean Pratt’s birthday. Pratt, of Huntington, turns 84 years old this Christmas Day, and plans to mark the day with a family Christmas celebration.

“Our daughter-in-law always makes him a delicious chocolate cake,” says Pratt’s wife Shirley.

Pratt says he doesn’t mind sharing his birthday with Christmas Day.

“It’s one of those things that just happens,” he says.

As he was growing up, Pratt’s family usually celebrated his birthday on Christmas Eve. He never felt like he was deprived of presents because his family made sure he received extra gifts for his special day.

“I always got a couple extras that somebody else didn’t get, whose birthday was the same day Christmas was,” he says.

“On Christmas day they would open their presents, and then they would go to their grandma’s for the rest of the day for Christmas with their extended family,” adds Shirley.

Pratt can still recall his best birthday ever, 80 years ago in 1935, the year he turned 4.

“We lived out in the country on a farm, and it was at night,” he says. “We had a big window, and Santa Claus came to that window and pecked on the window. I was really excited about that. I can remember that yet today, pretty much.

“And then, when he came in the house, I remember one toy was a tricycle, and then a red wagon.”

It wasn’t until later that his mom confessed that Santa was actually Pratt’s dad. But the special birthday visit will never be forgotten.

Later, Pratt served in the armed forces in Japan and Korea between 1952 and 1954, spending a Christmas — and birthday – in—each place. He said while living with hundreds of soldiers, there wasn’t much time to celebrate a birthday.

“We always looked forward to people sending cookies or candies in the mail,” he says. “(Shirley’s) parents always sent some and friends always mailed some.”

“But he says they didn’t keep them until Christmas — they ate them when they got them,” Shirley adds.

Pratt’s advice for families who have children born on a holiday such as Christmas Day is to make them feel extra special, over and above the celebration of the holiday.

“I’ve got a granddaughter who was born the day before Christmas, and I guess I could say, give praise and love,” he says. “Tell them you love them and cherish them.”