Ties That Bind Our Hearts And Souls

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of. ~Ellen Goodman


Memory has carved her signature upon my soul. I remember the warmth of love radiating from smiling faces, laughter tickling the walls of the house, and foods of childhood comforting the voids within us.

This time of year is steeped rich in tradition, making it bittersweet for many. Our traditions have evolved through the years. I prefer not to say they’ve died because they still exist but not in the context of the past. People die, move, estrange themselves…still, time moves on and love builds bridges. While I long for gatherings of the past, I am encouraged to birth new moments of deep connections.

As I plan menus, choose gifts, bake desserts, and write lists, memories sweep in and out. At first, I felt a shadow upon me knowing I can’t recreate the past.  Now, I realize my preparations are merely the setting for future memories. More important than cherished memories are enjoying the moments as they are happening and I hope to make that my focus.

While DirtMan and I are now empty nesters, we find distance to be an issue. Neither our adult children nor our widowed mothers are in close proximity. We find ourselves traveling often to visit, and welcome their presence into our home. We treasure these moments as they slip away all too quickly.

When it comes to family gathering, I no longer look at it as entertaining the masses but loving the individuals. And I so look forward to doing that.

This year we get our children for Thanksgiving, and we’re on our own for Christmas. Youngest and his longtime girlfriend will arrive tomorrow. Oldest and my mother arrive a few days later. I anticipate their arrivals like a giddy child on Christmas Eve. I plan to savor the moments as I do the flavor of my food.

It is time to focus on what is, not what isn’t. I wish each of you memorable moments of love, good food and drink, and infinite joy. May your tummy and heart be filled to capacity. May you have enough. Remember always, you are enough just as you are.

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. ~Susan Lieberman

32 thoughts on “Ties That Bind Our Hearts And Souls

  1. “Now, I realize my preparations are merely the setting for future memories. More important than cherished memories are enjoying the moments as they are happening. It is time to focus on what is, not what isn’t.

    Suzi, you spoke so much truth in that because it is about enjoying the moments as they are happening “in” each moment; birthing anew.

    So glad to hear that you’ll be spending this Thanksgiving with your children. Have a wonderful time, my friend! And if we don’t speak before then, wishing you and your family a beautiful Thanksgiving!


    P.S. Love the name of that wine. I will have to look for it the next time I’m in the wine store 🙂

    • I often find when I’m truly enjoying myself, I have a hard time picking up the camera. I’m torn between not having photos of the event and truly living the moment. I know I’d much rather live the moment than look at photos of something I didn’t heartily engage in. I need to find a balance there, ha!
      That wine (Lovingston) is a local Virginia wine. I doubt you’ll find it where you live, but I do know you can google their website and order it on there.

  2. The statement that resonated with Ron also resonated with me – very strongly. I do not get my kids at Thanksgiving, but my neighborhood will all be here this year and they are also my family. We will be celebrating together. Christmas Day will find me on Amtrak, returning home from a ten-day journey to spend some time on a beach in Vietnam with my kids. Perhaps not a new tradition – the beach in Vietnam, that is – but having some time with my kids during the holiday season is a treasured tradition. It is enough.

  3. Hi Suzi,

    I love the opening lines of this post…they fill me too with nostalgia, the laughter and the celebrations of those days when our children were growing up and kept us busy with their everyday activities…how I wish to step back in time and savor those moments which just flew by!

    Now we just look forward to meeting them – those who were so much a part of our life, once upon a time!
    Wishing you a wonderful time with your children, enjoy and treasure every moment of reunion!
    Thanks for sharing lovely thoughts!

  4. I love what you say about not entertaining the masses and opting to love people. You can build any tradition around that sentiment. Enjoy time with your family, Susan. xo

  5. Things *do* change as we grow older, don’t they? New people come into our families; familiar faces leave us behind. While traditions are important for continuity, sometimes it’s better to make new memories. Hope your holidays are lovely, however you choose to spend them, Suzi!

  6. Hello Suzi. Ron, your first commenter, said exactly what I felt reading this lovely post. That Norman Rockwell scene isn’t necessarily playing out in anybody’s house that I know of, anyway, yet we still strive to build our own traditions in our own way. I know you will have a wonderful visit with your family this Thanksgiving. Cheers!

    • Time changes everything and we must flow with it. As much as I wish there were certain people still with us, it isn’t to be so we must carry on. I am really looking forward to spending time with our boys. And I am beyond tickled that Oldest is bringing my mother. I am thrilled she decided to come. She is very hesitant to leave home. I usually go there so this will be a change of scenery for her. I treasure my moments with each of them.

  7. Thanksgiving is so full of memories and tradition for me – it was my Granny’s favorite holiday, the one she insisted everyone be home for. To me, it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving if we’re not in Baltimore (which is where we tend to go and celebrate it with my aunt). Christmas however, is all ours. We’ve built our own traditions just the three of us share every year. It’s quite cozy and I love that we settle in.

    • We spent every Thanksgiving in Nelson until our children became teenagers and had jobs. Then, we opted to stay here to be with them. Last year we went back, but this year my oldest is bringing my mom to us.
      Traditions are like warm fuzzy blankets, aren’t they? I hope you guys have a fabulous holiday and safe travels!

  8. That was a beautiful post Suzi and I am so happy that you will have family with you. Not sure where I’ll be – most likely still in the hospital with Tony 😦 Keep sending good thoughts our way!

  9. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Great comment about thinking of the gatherings as loving individuals rather than entertaining the masses. That frees us to just enjoy the company of others.

  10. I too love that comment about loving individuals. We share your situation with no family close enough to gather with on the worst travel time of the year, and we live in totally family-centric community. Until a few years ago we had a few friends who were also without local family, and we gratefully clung together on holidays in this family-centric community we currently call home. They have moved closer to family, as we’ll also soon do. This year we’ll be alone for both holidays, for the third year in a row. Your thought reminds me to focus on being thankful that I still have that one beloved person to celebrate with.

    • I am excited to have my family here this year. I also invited a few couples (friends of my children) who live here without family nearby. I remember being in their shoes once upon a time.

  11. “I no longer look at it as entertaining the masses but loving the individuals.” Sounds like your Thanksgiving was perfect with sons and your mother accompanied by oldest.
    It was so nice to be with family this year. There were four wee ones, four! How did that happen? Grandson brought out his saxophone and cousin wrote him some music. I sure couldn’t capture that in a photograph.

    • It was wonderful. Yours sounds great. Hoping some day we will have the pitter patter of little feet (and I’m not talking about the dog and cat) at Thanksgiving. We did get one baby here though and it was delightful even if it wasn’t my grandchild…it was the new baby of a couple who are friends with our youngest and his gf.

    • YES! Your comment resonates with today’s devotion from Martha Beck, “Resisting what we can’t control removes us from reality, rendering our emotions, circumstances and loved ones inaccessible. The result is a terrible emptiness, which we usually blame on our failure to get what we want. Actually, it comes from refusing to accept what we have.” from Victory by Surrender

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