If Coincidence Is Such A Coincidence, Why Does It Feel Contrived?
Toronto (CP) It is impossible to have a birthday to yourself. In a world with seven billion people and only 365 days in a year (366 in those pesky leap years), one will share their birthday with many others. Yet there are days in a given year where there are statistically fewer babies being born in the current era. Aside from the once in four years February 29th, recent studies in statistical analysis have shown that in North America, Christmas Day is the least common birthday. A decade’s worth of American birthdates compiled by the website FiveThirtyEight shows September 9th as the date of most frequent births, while Christmas Day is the least.
Hospitals have long been aware that families try to avoid births on major holidays. Obstetric procedures are less common on Christmas in maternity wards across Canada and the United States. Elective procedures like inductions and elective c-sections tend to get scheduled before or after the date. “It’s to be expected,” Harriet Reed, a professor specializing in statistics at the University of Toronto said about the report and the so called ‘Christmas drought’ that is reflected in the website study.
“After all, who wants to have their birthday on Christmas?” Reed asked. “You’re effectively being condemned to a lifetime of your birthday being overshadowed and turned into an afterthought if you have a birthday within a week, either way, of Christmas. Birthday cake might end up being Christmas fruitcake, and that in and of itself is awful. But people are pretty much ignoring your birthday because they’re busy unwrapping their own gifts, or caught up with their own families and such. So on some subconscious level, there’s an effort these days to avoid conception that’ll end up with a late December birthdate.”
Some notable people in history have, by chance, marked Christmas Day as their birthdate. Isaac Newton changed the world of science, but was a Christmas baby. The famed nurse and advocate Clara Barton was another. Actors Humphrey Bogart and Sissy Spacek both were born at Christmas. Musicians Jimmy Buffett, Annie Lennox, Cab Calloway, and Dido? All Christmas babies. Current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Also born on Christmas Day. Theological historians note the irony that the individual for whom Christmas is named wasn’t even born on that date- Jesus Christ was born in the spring, probably in March.
“It is a bit trying,” Lennox admitted when this reporter reached out for comment on the experience of having a birthday on such an occasion. “First when you’re a child, you don’t get to be the centre of attention at a birthday party, because you really don’t get a birthday party. Because everyone else is having a party. Second, you’re not really getting two days worth of gifts in the way that a sister or brother or friend might have when their birthday and Christmas are months apart. And what are supposed to be your birthday gifts are just wrapped up in Christmas wrap. Later on when it’s less about the gifts and more about sharing time with loved ones, well, they’re all off with their families and children unwrapping their gifts. This is one reason I liked being on the road on tour that time of year.”
Much the same applies to the day before and the day after. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, being in such close proximity to the big day, tend to result in some of the same overlooked birthdays for those born on such dates. Such is the case with one of those peculiar coincidences that can’t be a coincidence. Drummer Lars Ulrich, the long-time member of Metallica, half deaf at this stage in his life, was born on December 26th, 1963 in Denmark. With a birthday in such proximity to Christmas, the drummer was quite accustomed to being overlooked and ignored on his birthday. “It might be why I went into metal,” he conceded. The son and grandson of professional tennis players, Ulrich might have gone into the family occupation had he not gotten into the metal scene early on. “Anyway, when you’re used to everyone else being busy around your birthday with all that Christmas stuff, you might start finding the holidays kind of irritating to begin with. And when they start piling on Christmas music all the time, it becomes all the more irritating. That’s one of the reasons Metallica has never done a Christmas album.”
It turns out that another Lars Ulrich shares the exact same birthdate as his counterpart, albeit years later, as he’s two decades younger than the Metallica drummer. The legendary and cranky RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich was born on December 26th at a hospital in Whitehorse, Yukon, which one might speculate may have something to do with his general default state of grouchiness. This reporter sought out the Mountie at his detachment in the Alberta foothills before New Year’s. After reassuring Ulrich that this reporter was well aware that he was not the Metallica drummer, the Inspector was at ease. He admitted that the rumour was true- that he did indeed share a birthday with his namesake.
“Coincidence, they call it,” Ulrich said, shaking his head. “I’d call it something that can’t be printed in a newspaper. Unless you’ve got a common name, like a John Smith, for instance, what are the odds that you’re going to be sharing a birthday with someone else of the same name? Especially if you’re being constantly confused with that other person, like so often happens to me? It’s really irritating to be confused by people for that other Lars, considering I’m younger than he is, and don’t look a damned thing like him.”
When asked about his experiences in having a birthday so close to Christmas, Ulrich shrugged. “Well, I learned early not to put much stock in Christmas to begin with. I come from a long line of Mounties. My father was a Mountie, and half the time he was off chasing some mad trapper or a thief or murderer or jaywalker. So he might not even be around at Christmas. I do the same thing. You can’t call off a manhunt for a terrorist or a mad scientist or a graffiti tagger just because it’s the 25th of December. So I don’t really dwell on it. I just push through the whole nonsense of the Christmas season, try to ignore the onslaught of music, and don’t make a fuss about my birthday.”
At this point, before another question could be asked, the detachment front door opened, and a man walked in, accompanied by a cameraman. He had the vacant-eyed look common to those of his profession, if you wanted to call his line of work a profession. And he wasn’t quite dressed sufficiently for an Alberta winter, wearing loafers and a light suit without a tie. He caught sight of the cranky Mountie, and strode forward. “Lars! Lars! Jamie Skittles, Access Hollywood!”
Ulrich had not yet turned around, but the grim expression on his face had taken shape almost when the door had opened, as if he could sense the presence of those he despised without even seeing them. “Your name is Skittles?” he asked in a low growl that should have been warning enough for the man to back away.
“You like it? I changed it when I got into the business,” Skittles proudly said, oblivious to what was soon to come. Ulrich’s fellow Mounties, on the other hand, were well aware, one of them opening up the door. “Listen, Lars, first off, a belated Happy Christmabirthday to you. That’s a new word we’re trying out on social media for people who have birthdays around Christmas. You like it? I love it, if you ask me. Anyway, Lars, what I’m here to ask is this. It’s too late now, but will Metallica be coming out with a Christmas album for 2019? Because surely a metal rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas mashed together with Silent Night would go down big time on the music charts.”
Ulrich turned, glaring at Skittles with the sort of expression that would have driven fear into the heart of anyone with a working brain. But not an entertainment reporter, as that sort of person lacks a working brain. “I am not that Lars Ulrich.”
Skittles started laughing. “Oh, you joker!”
Not another word was said. Inside two seconds, Ulrich threw a punch that sent Skittles flying out the front door. The cameraman got out of Ulrich’s way as the Inspector went charging out the door and in pursuit of the entertainment reporter. The pursuit ended with Skittles taken to hospital, trapped in a body cast and murmuring in a daze about jingle bells, boughs of holly, and angry drummer boys.