Silence falls

The tide of family has washed through: this year son and grandson, daughter, daughter in law and her mother over from Canada.  We have eaten turkey and all the trimmings, truly delicious and a tribute to the happy life the bird has lived, wandering our friends' orchard full of organic food.  We have eaten home made bread and cold turkey and cold lamb, our pickles and cheese by the ton, Welsh cheese from our local deli.  We have made some small inroads into the Christmas cake.

This afternoon four year old grandson was helping to hand round cups of tea and slices of cake.  He looked at the cake and said "Grandma, I only like the icing."

"Well," I said, "that's amazing because I only like the cake so we can share."  I took the icing off and gave it to him on a plate and put the cake on a plate for me.

A huge smile cracked his face and he put his hand gently on my arm like a little old man.  "You know what that means, Grandma?  It means you and me are the perfect combination" and he sat up on the worktop swinging his legs and eating icing.

I think FIL has enjoyed the extra company, retreating every now and then to his room where the television is loud enough and there are no complicated three way conversations going on.  Grandson stayed last night and went in to say goodnight to his great grandfather.  He went straight up and gave him a kiss and a huge hug.  Perhaps it is the additional vulnerability that goes with his current physical frailty and his bereavement, but FIL is more visibly moved these days and I could see his lip quiver.

"I thought he might be frightened of an old bugger like me," he said to me as S went up to bed.  "But he isn't, is he?  He's a cracker."

So it has all been good.  In a couple of days I shall drive down to Devon to see my parents and my sister and family and next week elder daughter and younger grandson are coming to stay.  We have missed younger son and his wife who, as newly qualified doctors, have been working over Christmas, but I did manage a flying visit down to them too.  So life has been full of family and there is lots more still to come.

But just now the house has the quiet which follows departure.  Ian and FIL are watching the television in the other room.  The cat is asleep in the other armchair.  The woodburner is glowing and there is a glass of white wine at my side.

Do other people have this?  The relish that attaches to the moments of quiet?  I love the company with all my heart but I love these pauses too, the moments when the wave pulls back, the tide goes out, the only noise is the crack and flicker of the fire.


  1. How wonderful - I love this bridge between the young and the old - the cake and the icing. Bless you and bless yours. I have received similar blessings, and I would like to pass them on. We are so lucky.

  2. You use words so beautifully to paint a picture of a lovely family christmas. Tim and I have had his parents over for dinner today with his was a surprisingly enjoyable time and so was Christmas Day with them..after all my worries I thought I would just start the days with a view to enjoy being with everyone and the pleasure followed. I like your image of going with the flow of the tide. It's all quiet here too and we all need to enjoy that sink and sigh into the sofa feeling.
    see you soon
    x Mary

  3. Oh yes....I was relishing my first quiet moments this afternoon with my husband in town at work, Mom taking her nap and three teenagers sledding in the woods while I read my book by the woodstove, taking long breaks to watch the sparrows on the bare limbs outside the kitchen window.


    Wishing you more of the same,


  4. The moments in between are the ones to savour for we can reflect on all that is gone before and relish those to come.

  5. Our guests left today and much though I enjoyed having them I also delight in quite time alone.

  6. I can only cope with family in bursts and need my own space (with the boys) in between to recharge. Your arrangements leave me quite exhausted. Glad FIL is settling in

  7. Kids say the darnest things. He sounds like a laugh a minute. Well wishing you and your wonderful family a Healthy and Happy New Year from Maine.


  8. Tom - blessings to you too. Sometimes we just need to notice!
    Mary - glad you had a good time. It's great when it all works out.
    Lesley - they are wonderful, these moments of peace. I would go quite nuts without them!
    Tattie - you are so right. Without the reflective moments you couldn't relish the full ones.

  9. What a wonderful post. Full of warmth, love, tenderness, respect, kindness, joy, fun, and sweet calm. Just lovely. So glad you had a wonderful Christmas. I love the pauses too. I agree with FIL, grandson is quite the cracker. Love how the both of you are the perfect combination. That will be a neat memory for him down the road.

  10. Love and respect for older generations is wonderful. It is part of everyday life over here; a shame that isn't the case everywhere.

    The appalling weather means that Lady Magnon has only just managed (yesterday) to return to France. So our serious Christmas begins today.

  11. I find it interesting that John and I escape to be by ourselves over Christmas, the noise is all to much with a large family and now a great grandson, so we do it slowly. I was also interested that yesterday at a dear friends 84th birthday lunch all of the women who have always cooked Christmas said, this is the last year, time for the children to take over. We are getting too tired.
    We love the family and the gatherings, but now at our own pace, especially as some of our grandchildren are 24 and 26.

  12. Elizabeth, this sounds like a truly lovely Christmas. Just enough bustle to leave the silence ringing in your ears when it's over. We went ice-skating today, a crowded rink, loud music, bright and brash. My son and I left our friends and walked outside into the park, and he said "Even though it's cold out here and raining, I like it better than inside". I love him for being in synch with me in that way. I love the icing/cake teamwork with your grandson, and I'm so happy that your FIL sees that he is precious to the little people in his life. I've seen this new awareness in my dad, finally, at 78, realizing that his family loves him as he is... Blessings and Happy New Year!

  13. Ah yes, after all the rush and hullaballoo, it's the peacefulness of an empty house that I love.No meals to be cooked, dishes to be done, it's put your feet up and relaaaaax.
    Lovely moment shared between great grandfather and great grandson, very sweet.
    Sounds like you all had a lovely time Elizabeth, best wishes for a healthy and happy 2011 to you and your family.

  14. You express so poetically the opposites that make up the tapestry of life - arrivals/departures, light/dark, joy/melancholy, activity/idleness. Your blog has been great "soul food" after a busy Christmas. Now "peace comes dropping slow.........."
    Best wishes and thank you

  15. What an uplifting post, Elizabeth, in these days of dysfunctional families - to hear a story of the generations eating together, playing together and giving love to each other.
    We too had a family Christmas of eating, sitting around, laughing and doing little else - wonderful and so good at recharging batteries.

    A Very Happy New Year to you all.

  16. Your Christmas sounds a delight - but so does the time to reflect!

    My 'lot' left yesterday - their visits complicated by leaving cars at the bottom of iced roads and canceled trains. Lovely, lovely to see them all - and how we missed Dan who was tucked up under a duvet at home suffering from the 'flu. I'm summoning up the energy to tackle the laundry mountain now.....

  17. It sounds like you have had a lovely Christmas with lots of harmony.

    Yes, I do enjoy the pauses. They are a chance to draw breath and regain energy to enjoy the company.

  18. "Silence Falls" is so eloquently written....I count it a real blessing to read this as I start my day here in relative silence. BEAUTIFUL, beautiful post refelcting some truly beautiful relationships!

  19. I love the visits from my children & grandchildren, but it is lovely when they all go off for a few hours or a day!
    Yes, I know exactly what you mean.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  20. You've said it perfectly "The relish that attaches to the moments of quiet? I love the company with all my heart but I love these pauses too, the moments when the wave pulls back, the tide goes out, the only noise is the crack and flicker of the fire." This is why I leave the tree up until Epiphany - I love quiet evenings in the light of the tree, a glass of wine and a good book.
    Our house is still hopping and will stay that way until son and family leave on the 8th. Off to the beach today for a good session of shell-seeking.

  21. The spaces in in a beautiful Japanese flower arrangement, it's the balanced emptiness that delineates the perfection of the stem.

    I am fortunate too to witness the loving relationship between FIL and his four granddaughters. Theirs is one with no expectations and hence no barriers.

  22. You describe this sort of silence very well. For me there are one or two perfect moments and then the seas open. They have been held by that, as you put it, tide of family, kept at bay, pushed into an inner room along with the workaday lumber - for on high days and holidays the house is stripped of machinery and boxes like a man o' war preparing for battle - but into the blessed silence they all come flooding back, the to-do lists dancing themselves into an irate frenzy at having been neglected for so many days. The silence is ephemeral; indeed, it lasts little longer than the glass of white wine.

  23. I always find a few quiet moments and a glass of wine before I sit down to get caught up on your blog. I so enjoy reading about the goings-on in your neck of the woods, so far away from mine. Happiest of holidays to you and best of luck in the New Year!

  24. Great post. And yes, long live the quiet moments. Mine often involve a black and white movie and a bowl of popcorn, a fuzzy lap blanket AND a cat or two - which may be redundant, but cozy all the same!

  25. I love your description of the acceptance of the old by the very young. I too relish those periods of quiet, I need them to fuel myself for the people, I get energised by all the interactions but I love time by myself to reflect on it all too. Glad your happy turkey made a happy meal for you all! Happy New Year.

  26. Just a gorgeous post, Elizabeth, and yes, I know that feeling. Quiet, peaceful, the noises of the house around you, you can sometimes only appreciate the peace of solitude once the busy, wonderful noises of family and people and children have stopped... but part of that quietude, that peace is knowing that it will, happily, all start again.
    Happy New Year to you, I do hope we'll meet again next year. x

  27. Mark - ah, another one! I am just like that. If you took away the solitary bits I would go nuts. If you took away the company I would go nuts in a different way!
    Helen - it probably sounds more exhausting than it is, although having done the drive to Devon and back I am wishing fervently that my family lived closer!

  28. Yvonne - oh I love Maine! I had an aunt who lived in Rye in New Hampshire and I remember driving up the coast with her to Maine - gorgeous. Happy New Year to you too.
    Joy - interesting isn't it that we don't know what they will remember. I do hope he remembers that but even if he doesn't I expect he will remember the feeling of being loved!
    Cro - I think you are quite right that the respect for the old is more of a facet of French life than it is of life in the UK, although clearly it persists up here!
    Penny - my parents, now in their 70s, have evolved a way of sharing big gatherings which always includes leaving quite early. They love it but they also love sliding off to have a quiet hour at home. I am afraid I am rather more likely to be the last one up!
    Frith - what a lovely exchange with your son. I do think children pick these things up by osmosis. My kids are young adults now but we share very similar tastes in terms of tolerance to noise and consumerism! Don't think I taught them anything in a conscious way, they just absorbed it!

  29. SBL - thank you for your good wishes and I hope you have a great year in 2011!
    Liz - thank you. What a lovely thing to say about my blog. Life would be much poorer without my blogging friends to read.
    Weaver - I am glad you had a good Christmas too. I do get rather fed up of all these magazine and newspaper articles about stress levels at Christmas. In my view if you simplify it down to a feast with friends and family and shed all the stuff about perfect Christmases and money spending, it is hard not to have a good time.

  30. Layers and layers of family . The best treasure you can give little crackers and old buggers .... and everyone in between .
    Happy New Year !

  31. Hope all the year to come is as cope-able-with and has as many pauses and reassuring moments.

    Best wishes



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