A birthday on Christmas
Old Perlican boy has two reasons to celebrate on Christmas Day
Aiden Barnes has a special birth date. He will turn six on Christmas Day. But a special birthday tradition keeps him excited about his big day, even more so than Christmas — his birthday tree. With the help of mom, Christine, Aiden and his whole family will always prioritize his birthday.
The thought of starting off Christmas Day singing Happy Birthday is probably unusual for most people.
But for the Barnes family in Old Perlican, it’s how they’ve started every Christmas for the past five, soon to be six, years.
The family, which consists of mom Christine, dad Jody, daughter Emily, son Andrew and youngest child Aiden, began the tradition on Aiden’s first birthday, Christmas day.
Although Aiden shares his birthday with one of the biggest holidays in the world, Christine and Jody did not want that to be an issue. So they looked for ways to ensure Aiden’s birthday would be just as important to him as Emily and Andrew’s birthdays are to them.
“I was looking for a long time for something we could do to make his day extra special,” Christine told The Compass at their home earlier this month. “I didn’t want his birthday to seem less important because it’s on Christmas.”
It was only after thinking long and hard that she decided to incorporate a Christmas tradition into Aiden’s special day – a tree. But not just any tree. Aiden would get his own special birthday tree.
His tree is set up each year in the family’s kitchen. There are no Christmas decorations on it. Rather, the family uses birthday decorations. It was decided to keep the tree as different from a Christmas tree as possible.
While chatting with The Compass, Aiden kept repeating how much he wanted to start his tree.
“Can I decorate my birthday tree now?” the fair-haired kindergartener asked his parents. Of course, the answer was yes. A bowl of construction paper cutouts of the number five with ribbon attached was placed on the kitchen table, and Aiden began placing them on the tree. The fives were blue, yellow and orange, primarily.
With some help from both mom and dad, Aiden was able to fill the tree with a couple of birthday ornaments, the fives and curled ribbon.
“We try not to use red or green,” Christine explained as she handed Aiden a bundle of ribbon.
The eager Tricon Elementary student began to pull the ribbons apart and throw them at the tree. As each piece stuck, Aiden would let out a small cheer.
Emily and Andrew stood back, not touching the tree. After all, it was Aiden’s big tradition and he didn’t want any help. “No, I got it,” he said. Mom and dad both laughed.
An extra special day
“When he wakes up Christmas morning, all his presents are under that tree,” Christine explained.
Many have asked over the years if it’s been a hindrance for Aiden’s birthday to fall on Christmas. Many believe his birthday will be overshadowed by other traditions.
“We always get these negative comments,” Christine said. “But I really want to make Aiden feel like it’s not lost in Christmas.”
It’s not just the immediate family that feels that way. Rain or shine, snow or wind, the extended family always stops by to celebrate Aiden’s birthday.
“We’ve got really good family,” Christine said. “And it really, really means a lot that they’ll do that.”
The biggest difficulty hasn’t been keeping Aiden’s birthday at the forefront. It’s been been tracking down birthday decorations during the Christmas season. But when they’re hard to find, the family will make their own, including the fives that were placed on the tree.
People have asked the family how Aiden feels about having his birthday on Christmas. He sees no problem with it.
“December 25th,” he proudly announced when asked when his birthday was.
A chalkboard is placed on the wall next to the back door that counts down the days until Aiden’s birthday. He helps change the number daily, which keeps him excited for his big day.
“We’ll sing happy birthday a lot throughout the day so Aiden doesn’t forget,” Christine said.
As he finishes decorating the tree, Aiden finally gets to stand back and look at it. His hands go up in the air as he yells, “Yay!”
The excitement is contagious. Christine, Jody, Emily and Andrew all join him by his tree in admiration.
“It’s my birthday tree,” Aiden explained.
Aiden Barnes decorates his birthday tree with paper cutouts of the number five.
The Barnes family has a birthday tree each year for youngest son Aiden. His birthday is on Christmas day. Members of the Barnes family are, from left, dad Jody, son Andrew, son Aiden, daughter Emily and mom Christine.