For almost 20 years, I have lived at least 4000 kilometers (and 3 time zones) away from my immediate family. While that choice allowed me the great adventure of establishing my own path in life, it made for lots of missed birthdays, Thanksgivings, Mother’s Days and special family events. That part of living away was inevitable, but never fun.

My dad has a major birthday this Friday (March 5). A super-duper Air Canada seat sale helped me hatch a plan to show up on my parent’s doorstep, completely unannounced, and start early celebration of this milestone in person. For the past 6 weeks, I have been plotting with my aunt to gently manipulate my mom into hosting an early birthday dinner. You can only imagine my complete horror when my mom unwittingly foiled our schemes last week, postponing this scheduled birthday party by two weeks to accept a house full of bed and breakfast guests. With two days to go before my surprise arrival, there was not only no party, but no room at the inn!

In the end, I need not have worried. With my aunt and cousin as willing accomplices, I was able to pull off the surprise and completely shock both of my parents. My usually verbose and extroverted dad was left completely speechless- not a reaction I’ve seen from him ever before! I think the “deer in headlights” expression says it all.

It was a great weekend. In addition to some cake and candle-blowing, we had great fun visiting with family, watching the hockey game, checking out further progress on their basement finishing project, laughing, talking, eating and just hanging out. It was so good to celebrate – and get some much welcome Vitamin D! It has been more than 10 years since I was in Saskatchewan in the winter and I had forgotten how truly beautiful and bright it is. The view out my mom’s kitchen window is as beautiful at dusk as it is during the day and it was SO wonderful for this West Coaster to bask in some sunshine.



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