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CHRISTMAS BABIES COME AMID JOYFUL SEASON OF MAGIC

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Happy Birthday, Jesus . . . and Aunt Martha and my cousin Dede, and everyone else who was born on this day.

The Savior excepted, I think I know what the rest of you birthday babies are thinking.All your gifts are wrapped in Christmas paper - as usual.

Most of the family has already whispered in your ear, "I bought you one BIG gift for both occasions."

Your Christmas cards have a P.S. on them: "Happy Birthday."

Your favorite cake is chocolate, but you will get a white one with white icing, trimmed in red.

If you hear one more person say, "What a bummer to be born on Christmas," you'll slap him.

There are never any balloons on this day, only reindeer and poinsettias. You are rarely surrounded by your friends at a party because they are at home celebrating Christmas.

My gift to you is a birthday column that is for people born on this day.

Why do you suppose you were chosen to share the most celebrated birth in the history of Christianity?

There are 364 other days to choose from, but you were chosen to enter the world on a day when peace and joy reign. It's the best time to enter a world. Truces are sometimes called during wars . . . old prejudices and hatreds are put aside . . . and people who have never done so before reach out to one another.

No one could plan a bigger celebration of your birth. The streets are lined with Christmas greenery. Houses glow in the light of a million candles, and the anticipation of the day is almost more than a child can stand.

Whenever I hear of a person born on Christmas, he becomes special to me. Babies are always gifts, but to have an infant placed in your arms on this anniversary cannot help but invite memories of Mary holding her newborn for the first time with no less wonderment.

I think Christmas babies feel it too. Their birthday culminates a season of magic. There has been no Bozo the clown doing magic tricks, no catered party complete with noisemakers, no planes in the sky spelling out their names in smoke. It is a day when the world turns kind.

I share a birthday in February with Rue McClanahan and Tyne Daly. It doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but then "Silent Night, Holy Night" is not our birthday song.