Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Desert Party

It's the most magical night of the season. We pack up the kids and the blankets, camp chairs and coats and travel many miles to the other side of the valley to the remote desert location that has become a family favorite.

When we can no longer see the lights of the city- but only the stars and the giant moon- we know we are there. Our car almost knows its own way. It pulls off the paved desert mountain road onto the bumpy dirt path with the potholes and makes its way to the desert grove where we meet cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents who are all assembled in the chill of the desert for the annual event.

Everyone huddles together in anticipation of the giant bonfire that the dads and older boys help to construct, while some of the moms set up the tables and make ready the food as other moms cuddle their little ones in bundles of blankets. The children soon begin to spread their blankets on the ground and excited giggles and little cousin sounds fill the mountain-flanked desert valley.

Once the bonfire is lit the magic begins. Smiles spread across glowing faces. Little ones scout out sticks perfect for poking the fire. Grandpa calls everyone together for a prayer of thanksgiving. And then yummy food is gobbled up. Hot chocolate is poured. Hot chocolate is spilled. Paper towels are passed. More hot chocolate is poured. The fire crackles as logs are added.

Following dinner we all listen as each family takes their turn telling a Christmas story. Usually tears are shed, and more logs are added to the fading fire. Uncle Dirk favors us with his classic "Stuff" story and then carols are sung.

The family in charge of the Yule Log passes out paper and pencils to each person so that we can write our worries and cares that we would like to get rid of. Once we have each rolled our paper and stuffed it into the log, the Yule Log is tossed onto the fire and we bid farewell to our worries. Ready to start a new year fresh.

The night air suddenly turns colder and blankets are shaken, folded and placed into cars. Little ones are made ready for the trip home. The fire is doused. Hugs are exchanged and goodbyes are made.

Our little car makes its way home. We talk of our favorite stories shared by the fire. The yummy food. The warm fire and delicious hot chocolate. The year of the perfect fire poking stick. And then one by one three tired children nod off to sleep- and dream of the desert party only 364 days away.


Lynn said...

Well brought happy tears to my eyes !

What a beautiful family tradition !
There is nothing as awesome as being under the stars with the ones you cherish most !

Kristen said...

I can just picture the night...whata fun tradition

kel said...

That sounds so cool!! what happy memories those kids are gonna have!

wonder woman said...

This is incredible. When did this tradition start? What a wonderful way to start the Christmas season.

Nathan said...

This is awesome. I have a bunch of wet blankets for siblings, so starting any kind of tradition like this is out of the question.

On a side note, I also love your tradition of Conference Jeopardy. I'm totally stealing that idea this spring, even if I may end up just playing it by myself.

trublubyu said...

wonder woman- we have been doing this for over 15 years. we all look forward to it.

nathan- steal away! the husban has a total power point game rigged up. i'm sure he would share it with you.

uniquelynat said...

how fabulously you put into words the best tradition our family has! i shed a couple tears. even though we are in a different happens about the same way for us. good times.

Heidi said...

I love this tradition that you guys do! I miss the desert and wish I'd been to more desert parties like yours. Agreed that most families can't get that kind of participation. You are a very special family! I didn't realize you did it before Christmas. Thought it was more of a New Year's thing. Way fun!

Randibee said...

I can't wait for the desert party!!!! This year we may even have a working toilet!!!! (See if you can figure that one out)

Loralee and the gang... said...

What a neat tradition!