Law Office of Paul Black - November 2019


November 2019

The Importance of Rituals and Family MORE THAN A DINNER

F or many years, my family has had the same Thanksgiving tradition: We head down to Jacksonville to my aunt and uncle’s house. In fact, this annual ritual made turkey day my favorite holiday. We used to rent a pavilion in a park in their neighborhood for the event, and kids and adults alike would work up an appetite playing two-hand touch football. Everyone played, whether you were 8 or 80, and it was great to have that kind of bonding experience ahead of the big meal. But all things in life are subject to change. My uncle passed away about two years ago. It was a heart-wrenching loss for the whole family, but my aunt took the family didn’t meet in that Jacksonville park last Thanksgiving. And in the absence of my uncle and our tradition last year, I really realized the importance of these family rituals. Last year, I couldn’t help but reflect on how many memorable moments we had at that park and how little I get to see that side of it especially hard. She needed time to mourn, and, for the first time in recent memory,

my family outside of this one event. What I used to take for granted as a fun way to spend that particular Thursday suddenly became an important symbol of the bonds between my loved ones and me. I was reminded of this at my wedding this year when many of my relatives from that side of the family came out to celebrate. My cousins and I ended up taking each other on in a game of three-on-three basketball, just like old times. It was the perfect reminder that, though we have lost someone dear to us, we can still carry on and build from the traditions that were tied to them. for my aunt. We’ll do all the cooking and scheduling; she just has to show up at the same neighborhood park where we’ve shared so many Thanksgiving meals over the years. For me, it’s a great reminder that taking care of a person’s estate is about more than numbers and well-crafted wills. It’s about ensuring families have the means to carry forward the traditions that brought them together despite their ever-changing lives. So, this year, my cousins and I have offered to take care of everything

In fact, after this visit to Jacksonville this year, my wife and I are planning to drop in on the family of a client of mine. Their great uncle owned a historic property and desperately wanted to keep it in the family. It took some digging to find his niece and nephew, but they were more than willing to take on the important task of preserving this piece of history. Being able to see this property, and the way these two generations are working together to maintain it, is sure to be a powerful experience indeed. So, whatever your family traditions may be, hold on to them. The people or locations may change, but what matters most is that you maintain the spirit of togetherness that springs from events like this. Even if it’s only a yearly gathering like Thanksgiving, taking the time to appreciate the loved ones in your life will always be worth it. These rituals get us to stop worrying about the future and lamenting the past, and they also help us live and love in the moment.

Happy Thanksgiving,

-Paul Black

Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. | 1

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