Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas in Paradise

During my first semester of college, in the fall of 2001, I received a call from my parents saying they wanted the family to spend Christmas in Costa Rica. While they thought it would be a nice change from the chilly temps of Colorado, my siblings and I were appalled at the thought of a Christmas without snow. Most people would be thrilled with this offer, but we put up a bit of a fight that I'm sure appeared spoiled to most outsiders. They finally talked us into it.

And so began the yearly tradition of Christmas in paradise. That first year we traveled throughout the popular Central American country, staying at several different resorts both in the mountains and along the coastlines. Our favorite stop was our last. The Club del Mar in a small west coast town called Jaco.

Every year since then we have made the Club our Christmas destination. I'm not sure exactly when my feelings changed, but now it doesn't really feel like Christmas without 85 degree temperatures, palm trees decorated in Christmas lights, Christmas songs in Spanish, Christmas Eve mass with all the locals (we stick out like a sore thumb in the small Catholic church), and a fresh lobster for Christmas dinner.

After the passing of my dad, we were unsure of whether or not we should follow through with our annual Costa Rican plans. My siblings and I thought it best to leave it up to my mom to make the final call. Around Halloween she had determined that dad would have wanted us to go. So off we went.

There were the inevitable tears, but they were matched with just as much laughter. Brought on by the funny memories of my dad. Sitting seaside my mom and I came to the realization that, while dad can no longer come with us, he will always be there in the memories we'll bring up every year. If it weren't for him we wouldn't have ever been able to go in the first place. Because of that, he will always be a part of our future trips.

I can't wait to take our children there, telling them this same story of how the Club del Mar came to be our family vacation spot. I will take them there, continuing the memories that my dad sought to create, making sure to include him in them.

For information on the Club Del Mar, visit their website at:

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