Happy Christmas, Merry Birthday

December 12, 2005

Dave Koontz considers himself lucky. These days, Koontz, Mary Baldwin associate director of computer information services, gets to choose which present to leave under the Christmas tree for an extra week until his birthday, he says with a chuckle. When he was younger, his parents chose for him, rolling his New Year’s Eve birthday celebration right up with other holiday festivities.

“They say I missed being the first baby of the new year by about 10 minutes,” Koontz said. “I do get teased a lot for that, and for being born on the biggest party night of the year.”

Koontz is one of four members of the Mary Baldwin community who equate trimming the tree, cooking a feast, and buying Christmas presents with another special annual event — their birthdays. Holiday birthdays are a treat and a trick, they say, but always festive.

Amy Diduch, associate professor of economics, shares a birth date with Koontz, and her take on it is decidedly positive.

“It’s great because everyone is already off work and available, so we’re more likely to celebrate,” Diduch said. Her parents were excited to get a tax write-off for having a child for the year, even though they only had a child for a few hours of that year, she said. “They thought the tax break was better than getting all the gifts for having the first New Year’s baby.”

Diduch said her parents were “good about making a distinction between my birthday and the holidays.” Marking the turn of the century on New Year’s Eve 1999 and her birthday simultaneously was a highlight, she added.

Charles “Greg” Fales and Megan Murtagh, have famed Christmas Day birthdays. Fales, a security officer, likes to tell the story of his father’s reaction when he learned he had a new baby.

“He was away on duty in the Air Force. When he talked to my family, he said, ‘I hope Santa Claus left a boy!’” Fales said.

He admits that he did feel shorted, as a young boy, by having to celebrate his birthday on with the ever-anticipated pinnacle of the Christian holiday season. As an adult, he has realized the value in its rarity. “Not many people can say their birthday is on Christmas, and what is meaningful to me is that I am usually not working and able to spend time with my friends and family on that day,” he said.

Late December birthdays seem to run in Fales’ family; his youngest daughter snuck in on December 24, and another daughter celebrates on the 19th of the month.

Christmas birthday girl Megan Murtagh graduated from Mary Baldwin in 2005 and works as residence life coordinator for the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. “We usually celebrate my birthday before or after the 25th, but I think it is very special to my mom that I was born on Christmas,” she said.

Murtagh’s mom was heading to midnight mass when she went into labor. “When I was born, they put me in a red stocking. I guess not many people can say that,” she said.

Should the holiday spirit move you, send a birthday email to: dkoontz@marybaldwin.edu , adiduch@marybaldwin.edu , cfales@marybaldwin.edu mmurtagh@marybaldwin.edu.