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In Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 22 Sirius tells Harry the following:

Crookshanks took the order to the Owl Office for me. I used your name but told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault. Please consider it as thirteen birthdays’ worth of presents from your godfather.

As Harry was 13 years old at the time, this indicates that the Firebolt counted as a present for all 13 of his birthdays.

However, in Deathly Hallows Chapter 10 we find out that Sirius had in fact given Harry a present for his first birthday:

Dear Padfoot, Thank you, thank you, for Harry’s birthday present! It was his favorite by far. One year old and already zooming along on a toy broomstick, he looked so pleased with himself, I’m enclosing a picture so you can see.

This being the case, he really only "owed" him 12 years of presents, so why did he get him a present worth 13 years of presents?

Is it possible that he meant the Firebolt to also exempt him from getting Harry a present for his 14th birthday?

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    My guess is that after escaping the unescapable prison, fighting with his uncontrollable werewolf-transformed long-life friend, hoping to get his caused fixed (as an innocent man), he either forgot about it or thought it was shorter to write than "12 years of presents, since when you were a toddler I bought you a broom toy but you probably don't remember that". Also, Sirius cares so much for Harry that I think if he could get him a "20, 50 years' worth of present" gift, he definitely would. The Firebolt was just the most convenient way for JKR to do that. – Jenayah Jul 15 '18 at 3:43
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    The (dull, as always) out-of-universe reason would be that while JKR planned some great stuff with a lot of advance, this was probably a detail she overlooked/didn't even think about. – Jenayah Jul 15 '18 at 3:53
  • Sirius’ time at Azkaban made him bad at counting ? – Shreedhar Jul 15 '18 at 21:33
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    Sometimes, ignoring trivial details makes a narrative better. That face applies both to the text of the book and Sirius's own story for Harry. – kaine Jul 18 '18 at 13:03
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    @Alex - Honestly, I'm in the "Sirius forgot/ignored the 1st birthday present" camp; Harry wouldn't remember that anyway, in all likelihood, so it makes sense not to reference it. I just had the thought, "Well, he's going to miss all the rest of his birthdays, being dead," and decided to make an (ideally) vaguely humourous in a maudlin way comment on that. – RDFozz Aug 3 '18 at 16:09
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Out of Universe, the answer is obvious.

In-universe, since Harry's parents were killed in the three months following Harry's first birthday, Harry really didn't get much use of it. Perhaps Sirius thought that it didn't count.

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    "Out of Universe, the answer is obvious.": If it's that obvious you should state what it is in your answer. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 3 '18 at 8:12
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Sirius probably was going for the sentiment, not strict accuracy.

When Sirius told Harry that the Firebolt was thirteen years worth of birthday presents, he meant it as a way of apologizing for being not in Harry’s life for such a long time. He also gave Harry the Firebolt for Christmas, not his birthday, so it technically wasn’t even a birthday present.

“He got a Firebolt for Christmas,’ said Ron.

‘A Firebolt? No! Seriously? A – a real Firebolt?”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)

Sirius meant to give Harry something very large and impressive to make up for lost years. Saying the Firebolt was ‘thirteen years worth of birthday presents’ was just a way of expressing that.

Even if Sirius remembered that first present, Harry wouldn’t have.

If Sirius did remember getting Harry a toy broom for his first birthday, he probably wouldn’t bother mentioning it in his letter. First of all, he was feeling bad that he wasn’t able to be in Harry’s life for twelve years and that Harry didn’t get to grow up knowing him. Giving Harry the Firebolt was his way of starting to make up for his absence. Harry doesn’t remember having Sirius in his life at all before, and wouldn’t remember getting the toy broomstick from him either.

“But then, perhaps it wasn’t so surprising – after all, he had only found out that Sirius was his godfather two months ago.

There was a simple reason for Sirius’ complete absence from Harry’s life until then – Sirius had been in Azkaban, the terrifying wizard gaol guarded by creatures called Dementors, sightless, soul-sucking fiends who had come to search for Sirius at Hogwarts when he had escaped.”
* - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 2 (The Scar)*

In Harry’s mind, the Firebolt would be the first present he got from Sirius. If Sirius did remember getting him a toy broom as a baby, he’d probably consider it useless and somewhat pedantic to bring it up then, especially since he couldn’t reasonably expect Harry to remember. It’d sound silly for him to write something in his letter like “Please consider it as twelve birthdays’ worth of presents from your godfather, you wouldn’t remember it, but I got you a toy broom years ago, so I really only owed you twelve presents”, despite its technical accuracy.

  • Plus, Vernon surely through the toy broom away. – Acccumulation Aug 3 '18 at 20:36

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