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December 22, 2013

Christmas ‘double-dippers’ deserve some sympathy

DUNCAN — It wasn’t that I didn’t like Hank Helms — heck, I liked him a lot. We became pals in Miss Kitchen’s fifth-grade class at Lincoln School, where Hank was given the really cool nickname “Double H.” We were buds until Helms moved from my rural Illinois hometown during high school.

Hank was a bright guy, a funny guy; liked baseball and basketball, was really into scouting. In grade school, he amazed us with two fabulous tricks: First, he could spin three hula hoops at once, from his armpits down to his hips; and second, Double H was double-jointed. When things got boring in class, the grotesque maneuvers Hank could do with his thumbs kept us amazed and in stitches.

Everybody liked Double H. At least, for 51 weeks out of the year, everybody liked him.

But during the week leading up to Christmas, even Hank Helms’ closest buds had a hard time being nice to him. See, ol’ double-jointed Double H was a holiday double-dipper — his birthday was on Christmas Day.

If you were 10 or 11 years old, this was exceedingly UNFAIR! As we envisioned it: While the rest of us hoped Santa would bring a few of the toys and junk we’d begged for, Double H’s chances for a great haul at Christmas were twice as good. If he didn’t get something from Santa, he’d get it as a birthday gift the same day.

Visions of Hank Helms spending the entire day opening Christmas and birthday presents danced in our heads, and it made you want to ping him with a slush ball. I mean, how did this guy get so lucky? What a gyp!

Well, Chris West says those of us who envy the Christmas/birthday double-dippers have got this thing all wrong. According to the former DJ at KKEN radio: The rest of us may resent them, but Christmas Day babies are among the most misunderstood, downtrodden chill’un on the planet.

Even though a birthday on December 25th may seem like a double-dip straight from Heaven, West says it’s a terrible burden some kids just have to bear.

“People think being a Christmas Day baby is special, but it really isn’t,” West said, his voice cracking as he struggled to describe the emotional stress felt by double-dippers. “It’s not as cool as people think, because you don’t get to celebrate your birthday like other kids.”

West said the enormity of Christmas completely overshadows the fact it’s also your birthday, and that many Christmas Day babies spend the rest of their lives in therapy, attending meetings of Christmas Babies Anonymous in an attempt to build self-respect. (OK, he didn’t say the part about counseling, but it sounds dramatic, eh?)

Being a Christmas baby can really be a drag, West said, “because when you’re a kid, you can’t have a birthday party — you can’t get any other kids to come. It’s Christmas, and they don’t care if it’s your birthday, they’re just worried about what they’re getting for Christmas.

“And you don’t really get birthday cards, because people have already sent out Christmas cards and they don’t think about birthday cards. For years, my Mom gave me a card that says ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Merry Christmas,’ but now she says those cards have gone out of print.

“When you get a present, you don’t know if it’s for your birthday, or whether it was really a Christmas present they just stuck ‘Happy Birthday’ on. Other kids get a special day during the year when it’s their birthday, but not Christmas babies.

“And when you grow up and are working, you can’t get your birthday off from work, because you’re always off on Christmas anyway. So, that cuts you out of an extra day of vacation.

“No, it’s not easy being a Christmas Day baby.”

Brothers and sisters, as West came to the end of his tale of woe, I was feeling like Scrooge. I could hardly hold back the tears. Like many of you, I’d held a grudge against Christmas double-dippers for so long it blinded me to the plight of this suffering minority.

I just didn’t realize that when Double H acted so excited about double-dipping, he was really crying inside all the time. If I knew where Hank Helms was these days, I’d give him a buzz and apologize for being so selfish and callous years ago.

So, to Double H, Chris West and all the other Christmas Day double-dippers, just let me say: Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas — and sorry about the slush balls!

jeff.kaley@duncabanner.com

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