“The relative weight of difficulties is largely a function of our own perception” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Alana Mahaney by © Camila Gargantini

“I am so glad Alana and I were able to make her session work. She is located in Winnipeg, so during my drive across Canada from Ontario to BC in the Fall of 2016, I made time to meet up with  her during my stop in Winnipeg so we could capture this image for the project. Alana brought her daughter along, seen in the background of the image. She spoke kindly about her daughter when we first spoke, so I knew I needed to include her in the image somehow.” – Camila G

Image by © Camila Gargantini

An Interview with Alana

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. I think the best memory I have from a previous birthday is having supper and cake with my grandparents. My grandpa would always put money in the cake. It was always fun to find $2 or $3 dollars worth of change in piece of cake.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. I think the worst memory I have of my birthday was my 15th birthday. I had spent New Year’s eve and New Year’s day at a friends house. On my birthday I got a call from my mom telling me that she was on her way to a rehabilitation center and that I would not see her for at least a month. That was the first birthday that I did not see my mom. My friends family did everything they could to make it better by making me homemade cards, supper, and a birthday cake.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. When I was 10 years old my grandma gave me a quilt that she handmade and at that time I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do today. That blanket has been all over Canada and England. My daughter now uses guilt and one day I think she will also appreciate it as much as I do. On my 19th birthday my aunt and uncle gave me a pair beautiful gold hoop earrings. At the time I was living with them and I had gone to my mom’s house for Christmas, when I returned back home I found the earrings sitting on my pillow. I so shocked by the beautiful and thoughtful gift because I did not expect it.

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. Every birthday I insist on eating cake and ice cream! I also try to eat some of my favorite foods as well.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. To me the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday is reflecting on the past year and remembering how much growth, progress, and goals that have been achieved.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. As a child I always had a big birthday party to celebrate my birthday. My mom always made a point of trying to make my birthday special. She always said it was important to her that my birthday did not get messed together with Christmas. As a kid I definitely appreciated it. Now as an adult and a mother I like to celebrate my birthday with my daughter and spouse. We usually spend the day together doing something of my choice, have supper at a restaurant and most definitely eat cake and ice cream!