“The egg is the most perfectly packaged product” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Kathkeen Shing by ©Joel Robison

Image © Joel Robison

An Interview with Kathleen

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

A. My best birthday memory was on my 18th birthday when I held a masquerade themed birthday party and invited all my friends who dressed to the nine. All of my closest friends delivered heartfelt speeches which made me grateful to have such an amazing pool of friends!

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. The worst birthday was my 16th birthday. I was diagnosed with cancer that year and had to stay in the hospital throughout for treatments. So, I was forced to celebrate my birthday in the hospital. Although it is the one I want to least remember, I still feel blessed because my family was by my side throughout the entire time.

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

A. The most surprising present that I have received on my birthday was a Polaroid camera. It really surprised me because at the time I really wished I had one. I also received many gifts, even from people who had moved to different cities, like the beautiful laptop cover my best friend had delivered to my house. I was genuinely surprised by all the presents I had got and it made me feel very special.

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

A. Apart from cake, I must have sushi for my birthday celebration because it is my favourite dish of all time. Almost every year, my family would take me to a sushi restaurant to celebrate my birthday and I wouldn’t want to celebrate any other way to be honest.

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

A. I think the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday is to be thankful to our mothers. I believe my birthday is my mother’s day. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be presented to this amazing world. We should be thankful to them for giving us a life to live and count all our blessings so we stay humble and don’t take anything for granted.

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

A. Hmm, we don’t really have any particular celebrations in our Chinese culture. But it is a tradition that we would receive red packets (A red small envelop with cash notes inside) from our parents and close relatives on birthdays. These red packets would bring good luck and prosperity to the one receiving it.