The Importance of Moveable Pieces

foundation with quote

In a town in California, a small Serbian community gathers together on January 7th to celebrate Nativity — by shooting guns into the air. A short video taken from a news broadcast shows a community gathered, intent on keeping something from all that was lost, determined to keep traditions alive despite being a small diaspora. You hear the gun shots and laughter, see the pride on faces of community members — this is their time.

I have always been fascinated by communities of immigrants and how they make life work for them in new places. How they take pieces of their past and beautifully weave them into their present. I love the pride with which they share these traditions, set apart in a good way, confident in their collective identity though so much else is lost.

From shooting guns into the air on Nativity to making Lebkuchen on Christmas to curry dinners the day after Christmas, we take moveable pieces from those places we love and incorporate them into our new homes.

Where would we be without those moveable pieces? So much would be lost and moments of joy remembering what was would be absent.

Moveable pieces provide a thread of continuity through change. They offer tangible proof that what we had in the past was real and meaningful. Moveable pieces offer hope that our lives and hearts do not need to forget, rather they can remember with joy even as we move forward, resolute in our efforts to make a new life and new traditions.

Moveable pieces, though not made of brick or stone, are foundations that offer stability in the midst of change.

What are your moveable pieces? What things or traditions move with you, at the ready when you need them in your new home? 

Blogger’s note: I remember my mom telling me that in a life of movement, you need to pack things in your suitcase that can provide a sense of home wherever you are. I always packed a few framed pictures and candle sticks, so that the minute we arrived we would  have something tangible that said “We’re here. We can do this.” Moveable pieces.

Picture Credit: word art by Marilyn R. Gardner

7 thoughts on “The Importance of Moveable Pieces

  1. Some of my moveable pieces are small. A few paintings and pictures picked up along the way. Some of the moveable pieces are intangible like tastes in foods. I regret I didn’t learn how to perfect our favorite dishes while we were in our host country. I get them almost right here in America, but not quite right. We are still searching for our soul food. It got a little lost on the journey to America.


    1. “It got a little lost on the journey to America” That phrase is so poignant! I will remember it and probably quote you. I am grateful to have an amazing Pakistani restaurant very close to us as well as have learned a few curries — that is indeed my soul food. I think small moveable pieces can be the best.


  2. Loved this Marilyn !! So much resonates with the post about ‘home’ I wrote this am for A Life Overseas. Some of my moveable pieces are zucchini or banana bread shared with visitors, simmering spaghetti sauce and warm-hearted hugs :)


    1. Yes! Banana bread was one of mine for a long time, and a friend tells me she still uses my banana, chocolate chip muffin recipe which makes me so happy. Love the way you phrased this and can’t wait to read your post on ALOS.


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