Tuesday, December 13, 2011


At Christmas, a year ago, Michael and I had an epiphany: we were free at last. We no longer had children at home on Christmas morning. This is more significant than it might seem to casual observance. When we married, on December 21, 1976, I already had a child, Alexandra, who was two and a half. Our first Christmas together, four days later, focused primarily on her, on the wonderful, magical elements of wrapping paper and bows, stockings and their stuffers, and toys.

And that has been Christmas at the Devereux home for all the years since. Because I love Christmas, the elements of magic remained long after our children could have given them up. And we adopted Victoria when Alix and Nick were essentially grown, giving the magical a new lease on life. For thirty-three years, a child woke us up on Christmas morning, anxious to see what loot awaited under the tree.

Last year, our 34th together, we awoke late in a childless house. No one cared if we got out of bed. This is not to say we awoke to a home devoid of Christmas magic. Santa had come in the night, proved by the stockings brimming with stuffers, and our gifts, those opened with the kids the previous evening and those from each, other lay scattered under the tree.

As we celebrated, low-key and relaxed, the epiphany struck home. We could do anything we wanted at Christmas now that all three children were grown and gone. It was at that very moment that we conceived the idea of going on our dream trip to Costa Rica in 2011 to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.

Michael and I discussed the idea on and off for a couple of months until a chance conversation with a friend over lunch revealed the fact that she and her husband, as well as two other couples we knew, had gone to Costa Rica the previous year on a wonderful tour they highly recommended.

The rest of that story is pretty straightforward. I told Michael about it, we did our research, and, by March, we had reservations for a 10-day Christmas-time tour to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Deposits were made, plane reservations were made, a Fodders Guide to Costa Rica was purchased, and we started getting excited.

The excitement has built in the last nine months, our trip anticipated like the birth of a child. We had many conversations about what we would see, where we would go, and what clothes we would need. We talked about finally using our passports, applied for several years ago in the hope of overseas travel. We talked about how to conserve luggage space so we could bring back gifts for our family. What didn't we talk about?

Now, the birth is imminent. On December 23, a mere ten days from now, we are boarding a plane for Miami, where we will board a plane for San Jose, Costa Rica. We will be leaving the country for a place that is not contiguous with the United States. We will be embarking on a trip we have talked about since George W. Bush got elected president the first time.

I have most of my Christmas shopping and wrapping done. Presents are in boxes waiting to be sealed and mailed across country. I am finishing up my Christmas cards and putting up a few Christmas decorations to give the place a bit of holiday cheer. Michael and I have a plan for making our traditional cookies. And underneath all this seasonal normalcy, is a buzz of excitement and thrill. Our trip is almost here!

In a perverse way, I would like time to stop right now, for this moment of anticipation to linger forever. In three weeks, our trip will be over. Yes, we will have memories and photographs, but the buzz will fade away. I love this buzz. I especially love the fact that Michael and I are sharing the buzz so intimately, as a kind of connubial bliss.

I know already that one result from this trip will be the planning of another trip or event of comparable magnitude. It is way too much fun to be a one-time deal.

No comments: