“Faith is sometimes more powerful than actions” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Serena Wercholewski by © Mélissa Pelchat

“I met Serena in my photography program at Dawson College. I think Serena is the only name that could suit her so well because her energy is very calming and, well, serene. On the other hand, even with a normal tone of voice, she can give a very comical hue to anything she says and she used to crack us up with her clever comments and expressions. Serena’s work is gorgeous and that is because on top of her breathtaking talent, she is a very hard worker. Anytime I would walk into our lab, planning to pull off a late nighter, she was already there and she was still there when I left, and her good humor would never fail, even when energy ran low.   She always has a kind word for everyone and I truly hope life gives us more encounters together. I am happy to introduce you to my classmate and friend, Serena, in good company with Miss Willow Cordelia Hedgehog”. – Mélissa P

Image  © Mélissa Pelchat

An Interview with Serena

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

A. I remember one of my favourite birthdays was when I turned 7. When I woke up for school, my mum surprised me with a small gift, a plush keychain of Po from the Teletubbies (I still can’t figure out why I was so obsessed with them)­­. I was thrilled. I put it on my backpack and showed it off the whole day at school. It stuck in my memory because often, for birthdays, we’d just celebrate in the evening with dinner and gifts as a family, but this birthday made me feel special the entire day long.­­

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. My worst birthday was probably my 13th. I spent this one in the Emergency Room/ICU after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I remember opening gifts like a pyjama set at home, then getting to use them during my week spent in the hospital.
Either that one, or the birthday where my mum and I weren’t on speaking terms, which made for a very awkward family dinner.

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

A. This past year, my mum bought me a hedgehog for my birthday (Willow Cordelia Hedgehog), after years of pleading for another pet once my childhood dog had passed. She’s really made the house feel less empty which has been an endless gift to all of us, I feel.

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

A. When I was little, my birthday meal was always my mum’s lasagne, but when we’d go out for birthday dinners, my dish would always be penne arrabbiata because I was on a mission to find the spiciest one. I think it was on my tenth birthday I found the best penne I’ve had so far (the restaurant tragically closed shortly after).

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

A. I was brought up knowing that being with family is the most important part about birthdays, that, and the aspect of surprise.

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

A. In my family, don’t ask me why, but whenever there’s a present involved,­­­ we put it behind our backs and ask “which hand?” and continue to torment the gift receiver until they eventually get it, or we stop cheating.