This article originally appeared in the War on Christmas Issue.
On almost every day of the year, I make a conscientious effort to put others first. I hold the door open for old people. I make Thank You cards for the lunch ladies who clean up my vomit each Sloppy Joe Thursday and Get Well Soon cards for the ones who slip on it and have to be hospitalized. Hell, I even pledged to donate my liver if I die before eighth grade (after eighth grade, that thing’s going to be totally shot). But on my birthday, it’d be nice to have things be about me for a change. And while Christmas babies know that being born on a holiday means a little less attention, a little more church time, and worst of all, half the presents (aside from those lucky little fucks whose parents are divorced), nothing compares to the struggle of having your birthday on all eight days of Chanukah.
Allow me to explain. “Chanukah” is an alternate spelling of “Hanukkah.” Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can tell you about my eight-day birth. When my mother went into labor, it became clear very quickly that I wasn’t going out the way I came in, if you know what I mean. What I am trying to say is that I was too wide for a vaginal birth. In fact, the doctors said I was the widest baby they’d ever seen, nbd. However, my mother didn’t want a C-section because she thought the scar would make her stomach look like a smiley face, frightening and confusing my father who had grown accustomed to a wife with one face. Just like that, her labor turned into an excruciating, week-long ordeal. The doctors thought the amniotic fluid would only lubricate my exit for one day but it lasted a full eight, though unfortunately they could not set it on fire.
All this is to say that when my birthday rolls around each year, I can usually expect an eight-pack of double-A batteries given to me one-by-one over the course of a week and a snide comment from my dad about how I “ruined a real good thing mom had going on, wide boy.” Still, as we fire up the menorah, I am reminded that sometimes the greatest of tribulations produce the greatest of miracles, be they of childbirth or of light.