“Losing with grace can be an important win” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Catherine Guo by ©April Cormier

Image by © April Cormier

An Interview with Catherine

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. My birthdays in my 20’s weren’t particularly special or memorable because I didn’t really have birthday parties or anything. My 16th birthday was probably the most memorable. It was oddly warm night for November in Edmonton. I invited about 8 of my most awesome friends and we watched terrible horror movies in the basement, ate rainbow cake, and then went to a nearby park and lied down on the grass and took silly photos.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. The time I went a little out of character and decided to have a “cool birthday party at a bar like all the other 19-year-olds are doing”, I got black out drunk. It’s not much of a fun birthday if you don’t remember any it. I wonder how much I embarrassed myself.

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

A. The present itself wasn’t much of a surprise since I knew what it was going to be, but I was surprised that my parents actually agreed to get me a pet cockatiel for my 14th birthday. My mom wasn’t a fan of having pets in the house, but even she eventually grew to like that bird. Nine years later, that cockatiel is still with me, alive and well.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?


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

A. Have lots of fun with your friends and family. Make it memorable. Don’t worry about the small details.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. The same tradition as many other families and cultures: gather a whole bunch of friends and family together and eat a bunch of delicious food. Although that’s a bit difficult for me now since my extended family lives in China and my parents currently live in Australia. Now I send them photos of the cake they’re missing out on.