Living in Costa Rica meant Christmas without family, Christmas without traditional US food, and Christmas without snowmen. Which was all right, because the pay-off was huge. We enjoyed perfect weather, a month-long school holiday, and fresh tropical fruit every day of December.
However, when we learned that my sister-in-law and her husband were coming to visit on Christmas Day, we rejoiced! Our two kids were over the moon that we’d have actual family with us when we celebrated. I rushed out and bought an extra big chicken to roast. (This was in the mid-1990’s, so many amenities which are now available in Costa Rica weren't at that time.)
We were so excited that we didn’t even mind putting off our usual early morning present opening. Instead, we headed to the airport to pick up family. A huge crowd swarmed the waiting area. We were sandwiched in with the rest of them, our eyes glued to the exit doors. When we saw George and Adah come through, our kids went wild, jumping up and down and yelling, “¡Bienvenidos!”
I noticed that George carried a bulging sportsbag which was so heavy it skimmed the pavement. He was laughing and had a smug look on his face. “Guess what I’ve got in here?” he asked.
My two kids were hanging on him guessing every bulky gift known to man.
“Nope,” he said. “It’s a frozen turkey and a box of stuffing.”
Wide-eyed, we all skidded to a halt.
“How’d you get a turkey through customs?” my husband asked.
“They did nearly snatch it, but I played dumb and pretended I didn't speak Spanish. I smiled and nodded a lot. Finally, they gave up and let us through. It’s wrapped in about twenty layers of newspaper, and I think it’s still frozen.”
We stared at him in wonder. And so that year, we had Christmas with family and Christmas with traditional US food.
Sadly, George couldn't bring any snow for a snowman.