Splat! Plop! BAM! My nearly 3-year-old son Matt was methodically smashing coconuts on the stone terrace next to the pool of our rented villa in St. Martin early in the morning just under the window where my sister and brother-in-law – still kid-less – were trying to sleep. We thought it was hilarious; they weren’t amused. My parents just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and the grandkids – Matt and his baby sister, Reggie.
That was the first of our many multigenerational vacations, all the more poignant because my dad died a few months later.
Maybe that’s why we still talk so much about that trip – the seafood feasts our housekeeper whipped up, seemingly effortlessly, for us; the hours my dad, already ill, spent playing in the pool with the kids; the stellar snorkeling; the gambling expeditions that led my Dad to a nearby casino; the bug bites that covered my 8-month-old daughter; and, of course, the “Morning of the Coconuts.”
At the time, it all seemed pretty exotic for our family. My mom had plucked a tiny ad from the New York Times and, sight unseen (no Internet virtual tour in those days, no TripAdvisor reviews), had rented the place overlooking the ocean for two weeks. It wasn’t quite what we expected, but that’s another story.
What the gathering provided was unfettered time together to laugh and play and eat – time we didn’t usually have because we lived thousands of miles apart. Today, more than 20 years later, grandparents and tour operators tell me, that’s still what’s driving other families like ours to corral their families on multigenerational trips.