A Lousy Day to Be Born?

Happy New Year! And, oh yeah, happy birthday.

Merrilee Cox, of Silver Spring, Md., came into the world late on New Year's Day in 1950. She's one of many who share a birthday with a holiday. And as she puts it, "It stinks!"

"I just thought that the New Year's birthday was terrible because everybody was always otherwise engaged," said Cox. "We had to mark the occasion on a day other than my actual birthday."

Picking another day to celebrate is a common strategy. Allison Schumacher, of Chicago, who was born 27 years ago on Dec. 25, said her family made sure to have separate celebrations with separate presents. She has celebrated on her half-birthday, where she can pick up summer gifts.

Obviously, sharing a birthday with a holiday isn't all bad. People born on national holidays likely don't have to attend work or school that day. New Year's babies share their birthday with famous names like J. Edgar Hoover and "Atonement" star James McAvoy. Those born on Christmas can say they share their birthday with Jesus and Jimmy Buffett.

Plus, the holiday spirit can infuse their parties with something extra special.

"When I was little, I thought all the Christmas decorations were for me," said Susan Wigoda, of Evanston, Ill.

Wigoda, 53, celebrates Hanukkah, which occasionally coincides with her birthday.

"In many ways, it probably enhances my birthday celebration because it is a special day all around," she said.

Greg Baugues, a 28-year-old Chicago resident born on Christmas eve, said that he enjoys the holiday spirit, even if it overshadows his party.

"If you're going to get upstaged by somebody on your birthday, Jesus is a good person to get upstaged by," Baugues said.

Often, the holiday and the birthday are intermingled. These joint affairs may feature pies renamed as birthday cakes, the sneaky "for-your-birthday-and-the-holiday" present or holiday wrapping paper on birthday gifts.

"My grandparents actually gave me the same card about 10 years running," said Arthur Fitzmaurice, a 27-year-old Cal Tech graduate student who enjoys his Christmas birthday. "You open it and it says, 'Happy Christmas, Merry Birthday.'"

He usually gets two or three of this same card from other people, too.

Maybe the best benefit of a holiday birthday is that families are gathered together.

"I'm such a homebody and a family person, so I love having my family around on my birthday," said 23-year-old Christa Connelly, of Beverly, Mass.

Connelly's mother and father were so excited about their Christmas baby, they named her after the holiday.

"My mom always wanted to have a Christmas baby, and I guess she got her wish," Connelly said. "She always says it was the best present she ever got."

Having all that family around can be a holiday stressor, but hey, you can't pick your birthday.

"There's always family drama, stress, on my birthday. Lots of stuff going on," Fitzmaurice said. "That could be a negative, but at the same time, at least people are in the Christmas spirit."