The problem with January birthdays (in tier 4)

I realise that there are people with January birthdays who won’t agree with me on this, but in my opinion, the first month of the year is the worst time for a birthday.

And I should know, because my 36th birthday is worryingly, worryingly close.

There are many reasons why, in a non-pandemic year, I feel that January is a bad time for a birthday. Firstly, everyone’s socially exhausted, most people are financially skint, and it feels like the whole world is either taking part in Dry January or recovering from an almighty New Year’s hangover.

Then there’s the potential for people combining your Christmas and birthday presents or wrapping your gift in paper that’s just a little bit too festive for a birthday or even (according to research by Interflora) re-gifting you their unwanted Christmas presents.

Any talk of presents, of course, comes from a place of great privilege, and to be honest I’m happy to get anything at all for my birthday (providing it’s not the jumper your granny knitted you for Christmas!), but Interflora’s research also found that those born in January are most likely to have their birthdays forgotten (sob!), and, of course, in January there’s still the cold, dark weather to think about.

Parties in January MUST be organised indoors unless you’re absolutely determined to spend it outside in which case everyone needs to be fully prepared for near-arctic conditions (and rain, there’s always rain).

2020, of course, gave us birthdays like no other, and 2021 (or the beginning of the year, at least) promises us more of the same. After the government’s latest tier review announcement on Wednesday, much of England has found itself under tier 4 restrictions which means that now even indoor celebrations for January birthday-ers are out.

January 2021 will also bring with it all sorts of fatigue: lockdown fatigue, Zoom fatigue, pretending-everything-is-okay-when-its-not fatigue. The novelty of spending all of our time at home has most definitely worn off now and not even a birthday cake shared only by members of your household will take the depressive edge off it all.

So basically January birthdays are bad, but January birthdays in tier 4 are worse. Much worse.

Having said all that, the pandemic has taken away a lot more than birthday celebrations for many people over the past ten months, and there are still keyworkers out there working incredibly hard to help fight the virus and keep the rest of us safe. So drinking a cup of tea from the comfort of my sofa on my birthday is actually a gift in itself this year and whinging about my ill-timed birth seems a little selfish in the grand scheme of things.

If the thought of a January birthday under tier 4 restrictions has taught me anything, it’s that *perhaps* January birthdays in ordinary times aren’t really that bad. Last year I got to go out for dinner with my family, the year before I ran Parkrun with Dame Kelly Holmes (not side-by-side, obviously, but in the same race…).

As a friend once said to me, January birthdays help ease the post-Christmas blues and that’s as fair a point as any.

Also, birthdays are, ultimately, what you make them, no matter the time of year. So when January 2022 finally roles around, I’ll stop whinging about the rubbish weather or Dry January or the fact that I’m too exhausted to think about celebrating again so soon after Christmas, and instead I’ll relish the things I took for granted before this pandemic started, like hugging my parents on my birthday.

Image credit: Photo by Andreas Weiland.

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