SIDNEY — It’s been a struggle since the beginning of time – having a birthday on or near a holiday. Especially a holiday as big as Christmas, and a holiday that’s purpose is to celebrate the birth of a (very) popular religious figure – Jesus.
According to didyouknow.org, on average about 220,000 babies are born each day but on Christmas day only about 172,000 babies are born.
The Sidney Daily News has been able to track down 11 Shelby County residents who were born on or very close to Christmas.
The most recent Christmas birth we were able to find was that of one Julius Monnin, of Russia. He was born on Christmas morning 2010, to Craig and Cameo Monnin. His grandparents are Bill and Mary Lou Francis, Mike and Connie Monnin, and Charlene Meyer.
Julius and his family celebrate his birthday on Christmas day and also have a separate party with a birthday cake and birthday gifts a few days later. Julius is so proud and thinks that it is really special that he shares a birthday with Jesus. He also loves that his Daddy never has to work that day and that they get to be together with family.
His mother, Cameo, said, having a baby on Christmas morning was wonderful. It was the most precious gift that we could ever imagine receiving. That entire day in the hospital was joyful and peaceful. We didn’t have many visitors that first day because everyone was busy with Christmas parties, and as Julius was our first child, it was nice just being alone and connecting with our baby that day. Julius now has two younger siblings – Mary Lou and Lucian.
Julius has only ever met one other person who has a Christmas birthday – Charlie Grogean – who is in his 90s. They are Christmas birthday buddies.
Charlie, of Russia, was born on Christmas day 1924, to Henry and Rosalie Grogean.
He always celebrated his birthday on Christmas day but said there wasn’t anything additional his family did for him. Growing up he said he received an orange and a nickel for Christmas and his birthday and sometimes if he was lucky, a small toy.
His granddaughter Lindsay Mayer said, “I remember one Christmas, we wrapped up all his presents (both Christmas and birthday) from the family in one big box and waited until the end to give him his “one” present. Then when he opened it, there were multiple gifts from everyone there.”
When he was in the service, in the navy during WWII, he made it home for Christmas the three years he was in the service.
For his 90th birthday party, his son, John, threw him a surprise birthday party with him and his poker playing friends. There was dinner and a birthday cake with about 20 of his poker friends. John said that may have been his first real birthday party ever. Charlie said, “it was the best surprise I’ve ever gotten!”
Doug, of Maplewood, was born on Christmas day 1969 to Carol Ann (Bender) and the late, David Lee Meyer.
In his youth and now, Doug celebrates his birthday on Christmas day afternoon/evening and celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve and the morning of Christmas day.
His cousin, Mary Jo McClain (Meyer), was also born on Christmas day eight years prior.
“Mom did a good job at keeping it separate and special for me. I grew to love my birthday, how many can say they see most all their family on their birthday and share it with such a special baby as Jesus? I do!” Doug said.
Deb, of Sidney, had the same reaction about her Christmas birthday.
“It’s not a hassle for me at all, I enjoy having everybody at my house . For one day our house is entirely too small, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sharing a birthday with my Lord and Savior is a privilege,” Deb said.
Deb has lived in Shelby County her entire life. She was born Dec. 25, 1956, at 4:42 p.m. at Wilson Hospital. Her parents are Lee and Ernie Heintz.
“Christmas/Birthday presents popped up every once in awhile. Usually I was given my birthday presents before any Christmas gifts were unwrapped. The rule of thumb is, don’t wrap my birthday present in Christmas paper,” she said.
She said Christmas is always at her house on the 25th. With her parents, two of her aunts, her kids and grandchildren and even her oldest grandson’s girlfriend. There are about 19 of them total. She makes the main courses and everyone else fills in. There’s always a cake or pie in her honor. One year there was Rice Krispie Treats decorated with fruit strips. She said her grandchildren usually have a hand in that part.
“There was a woman I worked with a few years ago that was born on the 25th also. We always made sure we wished each other a Happy Birthday. I also have a cousin that was born on the 26th. I imagine it’s about like being born on the 25th,” she said.
Robert, of Sidney was born Dec. 23, 1953. He said, people did forget his birthday and most times it is a hassle having a birthday so close to Christmas, with everything going on, it’s difficult to get together. Usually at his birthday, his mom would take him to their Christmas tree and tell me to pick a present, he said.
Davis said his best friends mothers’ birthday was on the 24th and she always celebrated hers in June. He did that a couple years when he was younger, but it was hard for him to remember himself so he stopped.
Linda, of Sidney, tried to change her birthday one year, but it didn’t work out that well.
“When I was little I asked my mom if I could change my birthday, so she changed it to July but I didn’t get any gifts because no one knew when my birthday was. So I moved it back to Christmas because I thought getting a combination gift was better than not getting any at all,” she said.
Linda was born on Christmas day in 1941 to Mary and Carl Fridley. She said she always though it was interesting that her mother’s name was Mary and she was born on Christmas.
One year she was at work complaining about how she never got a cake for her birthday and that year she ended up getting five cakes from her coworkers and family.
An interesting coincidence is that Linda’s husband’s birthday is on the Fourth of July.
Gary E. Magee
Gary, of Sidney, has a half sister and half brother who were born on Easter Sunday and an uncle who was born on St. Patrick’s Day.
Gary was born Dec. 25, 1942 at 2:30 a.m. on a farm in Hollasburg, Ohio, Dark County, to Edgar and Hazel (Baker) Magee.
His parents were finishing up Christmas shopping in downtown Greenville when his mother went into labor. It was snowy and cold and they wanted to get home to have Gary because that is where she delivered all of her other babies.
He would celebrate his birthday on Christmas with his family by opening special birthday gifts and having cake and ice cream. Gary didn’t like being born on Christmas, especially when he was a little boy.
Gary remembers when one year he wanted a new tricycle, which he did receive for his birthday. He then realized that his dad had improved and painted his old one up, making him realize the truth behind Santa Claus.
Jill was born on Christmas morning in 1965 to Lester Neargardner and Joan King (both deceased). She will be 50 years old this year. She weighed 4 pounds and 13 ounces and was 17 and a half inches long – a tiny Christmas present, she said.
“I usually celebrate my birthday on Dec. 13, which is the same day as my sister’s birthday. I think a Christmas birthday is special because it’s Jesus’ birthday also. My cousin was born on Christmas Day also exactly one year before me,” Jill said.
Kate, of Sidney, was born on Christmas day 1947, in Fort Loramie, to Matt and Adele Hilgefort. Kate’s mother woke up Christmas morning, started frying a chicken for lunch, delivered Kate, and then was able to eat the chicken for lunch.
Kate said is was always kind of a hassle to have a birthday on Christmas. “If we ever got together, people would just say, Oh by the way, Happy Birthday,” she said. “It never really got celebrated.”
Janice, of Sidney, said her birthday is always celebrated, and always on Christmas day. They do regular Christmas celebration in the morning, and then do a birthday celebration later in the day, and she always gets a cake.
Janice was born in 1939 to Charles and Eileen (Richards) Klecker. She was the first baby born in the Ida M. Key wing at Wilson Hospital. Key had donated $30,000 to the hospital for the new wing.
Martha, has been a resident of Sidney for the past 51 years. She will be celebrating her 70th birthday this year on Christmas Day. It will be an especially memorable day for her as she has had ongoing health issues that resulted in an extended stay in the hospital and skilled nursing facility from May 2014 until September 2015. The ability to celebrate her birthday and Christmas this year in the place she’s called home for the past 46 years holds special meaning that she considers a blessing from the Lord.
As a young girl, she recalled the story her parents Willy and Janie Napier passed on to her. The winter of 1945 had just begun. A small log cabin constructed of rough-hewn logs and mud pitch, was located on the mountainside in Verda, Kentucky, deep in the heart of Appalachia. Excitedly, a family awaited the arrival of a newborn baby which would be welcomed by five other siblings. The doctor had been summoned, Dr. McGee and mid-wife Martha Jones arrived in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, during the middle of a snow storm. The wind and snow were blowing outside, and the baby was taking her time in coming. It became evident the arrival would not be happening any time soon. The doctor found himself sitting in an old rocking chair in front of the fireplace, attempting to keep warm and eating Christmas candy. A sudden burst of wind swept down the chimney, leaving the doctor covered in a thick, black dust. Fortunately, he had a sense of humor. He cleaned himself up and opted not to sit too close to the fireplace while he continued to wait. In the early morning hours of Christmas Day, a baby girl arrived. Her mother named her Martha, in honor of the mid-wife that helped deliver her on that cold, snowy morning.
Martha continued to live in the mountains of Kentucky until her early adult life. While growing up there, she was often referred to as “Santa Claus” because of her rosy cheeks and Christmas birthday. Those days were very hard and we didn’t have much, she said. Most of the time, kids received a sock filled with candy, fruit and nuts for Christmas. That was our presents. And, because my birthday fell on Christmas Day, I was told mine was for both Christmas and my birthday. Although times were hard, the memories are fond. Christmas has always been a very special time of the year to me. The mountains are beautiful with a fresh coat of snow glistening across the holler like diamonds. Things operated at a much slower pace and it just seemed as if we enjoyed each other’s company and took comfort in what we had versus what we didn’t have. My Christmas birthday has always been special to me because I share the same day that Jesus’ birthday is being celebrated, she said.
This year, Martha and her family will celebrate her birthday and Christmas at the home of one of her daughters. The family has continued to grow and four generations will gather for the special occasion. Although the holidays are a joyous event, sometimes they can be bittersweet. We find ourselves making new memories and doting over the beautiful new additions we welcomed into our family this past year; but, also recalling precious memories and remembering our loved ones that are no longer with us, she said. When asked what she wants for Christmas and her birthday this year, she responded, “Let’s just visit, enjoy each other’s company and the time we have together.”
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN