December 7th was a great night. We kicked off birthday celebrations with a rowdy game of hockey (the Ontario Reign won, obviously) and the migrated to Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill for dancing and drinks. My dad and I did some awesome dance moves. By awesome I probably mean that they should have stayed in the kitchen at home where they were invented. I spent the night surrounded by close friends and family, KD flew down, Doug drove up from SD, Tal and Laura came from SM, and Angela flew all the way from Australia to be there! I was happy, my heart was warm and fuzzy!

The real surprise came on my actual birthday. The next night KD and I headed to my parent’s house to celebrate mine and my grandma’s birthday. Grandma picked the birthday meal and I was getting my pistachio cake. It was shaping up to be like every other year and I was thankful. There is something to be said for closing out a chaotic year with something cozy, family, comfort food and the possibility of Apples to Apples. Shortly after arriving I noticed the door kept opening to more and more familiar faces. It was like a clown car, a seemingly endless stream of  loved ones were pouring through the door, food in hand. I laughed and took in the joy. My love language is quality time and I was getting that in spades this evening.

My mom shuffled everyone into her living room to open gifts and it was revealed to me what everyone was REALLY there for.

Flashback to when I made the decision to move from my old house. It was a very surreal day for me. I had no exit plan, no time, and seemingly no real idea of where I was going to go. I went from planting my feet firmly in the front yard of that house to being the one to leave over night. My uncle, sister, and a couple of family friends showed up and began hauling my things to various garages. It was very much like watching your own life in a movie. I had no clue what I was going to do, where my things were going, and where I was going to end up. For the first time in my adult life I was making a definite move away from a codependent lifestyle and I had no plan.

The thing about being a codependent is that you always have the role of the martyr to fall back on, you always get to be the savior. Breaking free of that meant owning my decisions, not choosing a path based on the happiness of someone else with the grand hope that it would somehow fulfill my own life. I remember walking into the shed in the back yard and realizing that it would be impossible to sort through the boxes to find my things. One of the hardest decisions I made that day was to walk away from some very sentimental items for the sake of my sanity. Looking back, being totally numb to my surroundings was probably the best feeling I had that day!

As the holidays approached it became very real to me that I would never see those things again. Among other personal items I had a ridiculous collection of family ornaments for my tree that were going to be sweet memories. Coming to terms with that was difficult but I realized that I had to stand by the decision I made that afternoon. No physical thing in the world was worth undoing the progress I had made since that day.

On my birthday night my mom sat me down, surrounded by these fabulous people, and told me that everyone was there to fill a new tree with love. My parents had purchased a Christmas tree for me and everyone there had brought new ornaments to fill it with. In a very ASC fashion, I started crying and sweating. It was a very overwhelming moment. I opened each one, some mailed from family afar, some dropped by the house by dear friends that couldn’t stay for the party, some from strangers that had heard about the event and wanted to contribute. Each told a story of love and friendship, of hopes and of absolute happiness. There was an awful lot of glitter involved!

I cannot put into words what this meant to me. If you were involved with this special day I want to thank you personally. Your kindness is such a blessing to my life. Thank you for contributing to an awesome chapter in my life. You continue to push me toward great things. My new Tree of Love will always remind me of the choice I made to own my life and the wonderful people and things in it.

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