embrace the pauses

by rebecca on December 6, 2011

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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.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Crowing Crone Joss December 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm

SuziCate always brings to us moments of reflection and of the meaning of life. Now I’m off to wander through your blog.
walk in beauty.


rebecca December 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Crowing Crone,
I agree that SuziCate brings lovely moments to her blog. I especially love the feeling I get as a virtual traveler as I wander through her photographs. She hikes in a landscape I don’t live in and that is a wonderful joy.


Angelia Sims December 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Love this post! I was the youngest of four, and although my brothers were close in age to me, my sister had moved out. I loved seeing her, and counting the moments of holidays with her. Especially since, it meant trips to Colorado to see Grandma. The pics are awesome!


rebecca December 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I, like SuziCate, am the youngest of six. There is something unique, I think in being the youngest. I have a sister 11 years older and i know that feeling of waiting for her to return, or visiting her in her home where she was starting a family. i LIVE in Colorado, so I know how special it is to be there. Come visit any time.


Ron December 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Hi Rebecca! Thank you for sharing Suzi’s guest post. She’s one my longtime and cherished blogging friends.

Beautiful post, Suzi!

It brought back a flood of fond memories for me of my childhood. Coming from a large Italian family, our holidays were always filled will masses of people, laughter, music, and of course, TONS of food!

“There was also bickering, much of which was probably in jest. ”

Same in my family. Italians seem to enjoy LOUD discussions whenever they sit down to eat. Probably all that WINE – HA!


rebecca December 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I totally recognize your photo from SuziCate’s site. I’m so glad you’re visiting here today. I am grateful you are such a regular reader at The Water Which’s Daughter. I look forward to knowing you better myself! Enjoyed the photo at your site of “Love Yourself” at the ocean.


slamdunk December 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Excellent post Suzicate. I love the concept of pauses.

I always looked forward to the holidays growing up as we would visit my grandparents or aunt in another state and enjoy a big family gathering (usually it was just 4 of us).

I remember when I began living in another state and was able to get home one more time before my parents sold their home. I am glad that I soaked in that time and realized that change had arrived, and it would be my last like that.


rebecca December 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Food is the center of so many family gatherings, isn’t it? I remember selling and closing up the home of my parents after my step-father died. A home is filled with so much more than stuff, isn’t it? So glad you stopped by.


Debbie December 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hi Rebecca, thanks for hosting Suzicate’s blog today. She does such a lovely job with her poetic phrases and photos!
Suzi, thanks for sharing your memories. I am the older of two in my family, and since Daddy only had a few days off during the holidays, most of our time was spent trekking to and from the south to visit kith and kin. I missed being home for the holidays, but “home” really isn’t a place, is it? It’s all about Family.


rebecca December 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

“Home really isn’t a place. It’s all about Family.” Couldn’t say it better!


SuziCate December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thank each of you for coming over here to see me today. I hope you all come back to visit Rebecca often.


rebecca December 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Thanks again, SuziCate. Loved having you here.


Peg December 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Hi Rebecca!
Thanks for hosting my sister and her post on pauses. Brins back lots of memories of our big family dinners and how there was always lots of laughter and love. Thanks SuziCate for evolking those memories!


rebecca December 7, 2011 at 6:52 pm

It is my pleasure to have your sister! And hearing about your family gatherings was a total treat. I hope there’s plenty of love and laughter in your future as well as your past.


Terre Pruitt December 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Hi Rebecca. I am the youngest of two. 🙂

My family’s traditions from when I was young have faded away as the family grew and my father’s brother had a family of his own and moved. My parents also moved. Much gratitude to my mother who has always been the one to set the Holiday dinner around me. My brother was not always around and so my mom would plan the dinner around my schedule since I was the one that had to travel to her. We often have Thanksgiving dinner after Thanksgiving Day so I can be with my husband’s family. So stuff like that. My mom flexes her holiday so that we can be together. We celebrate when we can and it is not always on THE day of the holiday.

Love the post, SC!


rebecca December 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm


I have two children and we flex our holidays because my husband has a wacky work schedule. I’m glad to know the flexing has not diminished your feel of connection with your mother. That’s what I want for my children as well.


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