The Perils of Capricorn Birthdays

02/23/2011 06:45 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Val Brown Brand Strategy and Innovation; Fledgling Librettist

It's well known among us Goats: Capricorns (December 22 to Jan 20) get cheated on our birthdays due to their proximity to the holidays. Always have, always will. We mostly suffer in silence. It's like this: the December Cappies are victims of the "one gift fits all" present, a single, hastily purchased item wrapped in Santa's workshop rather than a pastel confection tied in ribbon curled with a scissor edge. Their birthday parties are slapdash affairs with eggnog and gingerbread in place of champagne and a cake from their favorite bakery. January Goats have it even worse, facing global gift fatigue and general weariness around group conviviality. I know, I know. It gets dark out at five, it's cold, you're all tired. Your favorite TV shows are revving up again after a month of reruns. It's hibernation time, at least until Valentine's Day.

Maybe that's why, as a January Capricorn, I'm notoriously bad about celebrating my birthday. While that has never extended to a refusal of birthday money from my parents, it has resulted in woefully little observance of that moment some decades ago when my mother schlepped through a snowstorm to have me. If only she'd waited nine days -- well, I guess that part was up to me -- I could have been a "friendly, humanitarian" Aquarian, rather than an "ambitious, disciplined" Goat, and been properly feted every year.

I've mostly just stuck to celebrating the big ones -- 20, 30, 40, and.... ahem, etcetera, though I must admit I spent my 30th alone with a bottle of vodka and Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album. Life was, of course, over. But this year was different. I gave like crazy to others, including an ill parent, and I was ready to receive. Well, not gifts exactly, but my friends' presence. And I was able to stand a wee bit of attention. (I secretly want attention, but then when I get it, it makes me a little uncomfortable. What's up with that?) And why no gifts? I've always thought you can't expect people to pay for a birthday dinner and buy a present.

But I took things a step further. My poor friends were dragged to Wollman skating rink in Central Park, to face a dark cold evening, miss their favorite TV shows, and risk possible humiliation and a trip to the osteopath, though we're mostly Northeast bred so we'd been up on a pair of skates before. A little more careful now, this wasn't the hot-toddy'd affair of a long-ago birthday, where one guest ended up needing shoulder surgery and another broke some ribs. No, we were just dodging small children and people who grew up in Southern California.

Now I'm back into many years' birthday hibernation until the next big one, thankfully still many years away, and one I think I won't want to shout about.