“Sometimes blending in is requisite for survival” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Kate Hessin by © Jeannette Breward

Image by © Jeannette Breward

An Interview with Kate

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

A. I’ve had many themed birthday parties but my favourite memory is from my 19th birthday. The theme of the party was “go wig or go home”, and all the guests were asked to wear a wig. Everyone really bought into the theme and even wore costumes to match their wigs. It was a big messy, dancing-filled house party with all my friends and family. 

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. I love my birthday so it’s difficult to think of a negative memory. The only thing that comes to mind is my 17th birthday. I had talked to my mom about how I had never had a cake that said “Happy Birthday Kate” on it. I usually had homemade cake and I had a strange desire to have a professionally made cake with writing on it. Somehow my mom only heard “a cake with my name on it” and that’s exactly what I got. A beautiful, professionally made cake with “Kate” written right in the middle, with lots of empty space around it. It looked so weird! But my poor mom was just trying to make me happy.

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

A. The gift that most surprised me was my 24th birthday – I was living in Thunder Bay and my boyfriend (now husband) was working in Vancouver. We hadn’t seen each other for several weeks so he surprised me with a plane ticket to Vancouver. It was the perfect little getaway to much much warmer weather in late January. 

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

A. My go-to birthday meal has always been Mexican food. Consistently – like probably for all my 27 years.

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

A. I think the most important part of celebrating your birthday is coming together with friends and family in a special way that “marks” that date in your life. I love being able to look back at all my different parties as a way of looking back at my life in general. Birthdays bring together all the best things in life – reflection, celebration, presents, cake, and time with friends and family! 

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

A. Growing up, my family had the tradition of the “birthday person” being able to use a special blue plate. I ate tacos off that plate many, many times. This is exactly the simple sort of birthday tradition that I love – it shakes up everyday life and makes the day just a little more special.