I've been camping in the Anza-Borrego desert since I was 12 years old or so. Now that I have kids of my own who inherited my tiny bladder, I have to wake them up to go to the bathroom every night. (Definitely no fun when it's raining or 34 degrees outside.) But when when we open the tent flap and peer up, we are greeted by the most amazing spectacle of stars. At 2 am, all of the campfires have been put out and there are no lights to compete with the galaxies overhead.
One evening my son Robert asked me, "Mommy, are those stars there all the time?"
"Yes, they are," I answered. "We just turn on so many lights, we drown out the stars."
These days, a lot of people are detached from the night sky. We don't just hang out on the front porch like people did 50 years ago. With TV and air conditioning, we stay indoors. And we miss spectacular sights like this.
The desert has become a wonderful refuge, not just for its natural beauty, but for also what's not available. There’s no Internet connection and no phone reception. No YouTube, Hulu or TV to distract us. At night, we sit in chairs around the campfire and make s'mores. (I'm always the first to fall asleep.) And in the mornings, I read in the tent with the kids before venturing out for hot chocolate.
Isn’t it funny, I have to leave home to spend time with my kids?
It’s so easy to get distracted around the house. The laundry. The Internet. The bills. I’m looking forward to another desert trip over New Year's.
I hope between the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you have time to sit with your loved ones and do absolutely nothing together. Just take the phones and put them in a basket in another room, even if it’s for an hour after dinner.
May your holidays be merry. May they be bright. May they be unplugged.
P.S. How I remember the difference between desert and dessert. You only want one desert, that's one s. Who doesn't want two desserts? That's a double s.