The house in which I grew up was alternately silent and boisterous. At a big dinner table I often found it difficult to ask for the salt let alone voice my opinion. SuziCate is my guest today and she speaks to the crowded dinner tables during the month of December. I hope you find some solace in the pauses she has found within the crowds.
I am the youngest of six children. By the time I turned nine, all except one sibling had left home. I could usually count on them returning for the holidays. This filled me with much excitement. I looked forward to the arrival of laughter and silliness. How I missed their energy. Our house just didn’t feel like home anymore. Our family celebrations were limited. Gifts were simple, and the reason behind the celebrations not noted. There were no lengthy prayers of thankfulness and no Santa Claus or stockings. Our focus was on the gathering of family and the partaking of food and drink.
I was always amazed at how our kitchen table always seemed to stretch to fit one, two, or three more bodies. My brothers and sisters would always have a friend or two with them, and we always had enough food to feed them all and leftovers for a few days. The chatter and laughter was nonstop. There was also bickering, much of which was probably in jest. Though being a serious child I took the negativity to heart. I always feared someone would get angry enough to storm out. I watched them as I ate. I soaked in every smile, absorbed their laughter. I stored it in my bones for comfort during the long quiet hours after their departure.
As we sat down to the feast we each resumed our sibling roles of family order. My oldest sister took her role of authority seriously while my joking brother took her down a notch or two. The middle brother and sister were less dramatic, sometimes a bit on the sullen side. My other sister, who was five years older, and myself were usually vying for all of their attention. I took the most pleasure in the pause between the bites, the savoring of life. It was in that pause that flavors triggered memories. It was in that pause we were thankful. It was in that pause we were family again. It was within that pause I ached to remain.
Now here I am with grown children of my own. Though we do celebrate our holidays with reason and tradition, I still live in that pause. I savor these moments we are together as family. I look forward to expanding our home to include another generation. I am excited for the traditions we will carry on in our home and anticipate the ones my children will start anew with their own families.
During the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, our home is filled with the aromas of preparing food and the scent of sandalwood candles. There are plenty of homemade goodies and wine to share. One might hear Christmas music, maybe some old Rock, or possibly the Blues. The house glows in candle light and Christmas tree lights. I no longer go overboard with Christmas decorations. We simply put up a tree and hang stockings. Love is the most prominent thing my children feel when they enter the door to waiting hugs…they know they are welcome.
In the pause between bites of food, between conversations, between glances and smiles, I live in the moment of joy. I watch the light reflect from the faces of my long ago little boys and I’m thankful for the wonderful young men they’ve grown to be. And yes, sometimes in the pause I hold those little boys close to my heart never wanting to let them go. It is in this pause I thank God for this life that is mine.
How many people sat around your table growing up? How have the traditions changed now that you get to choose the lights and the beverages? What do you find in the pauses of your holiday meals?
SuziCate has inspired me to get out my camera. These pictures are hers. I often feel I’m taking a surrogate journey as I walk through the photos on her blog, The Water Which’s Daughter.