A Charmed Life

A while back, I was looking at my Mom’s sterling charm bracelet. When we divvied up Mom’s jewelry, I ended up with the charm bracelet, because it brought back some happy memories for me. It was obviously collected in the 1930s and 1940s. I remember getting into her jewelry drawer and playing with it as a child. There was a tiny fan with moving blades, a concertina, miniscule bottles of Coke and Milk, an Indian headdress, a Donald Duck, a toilet with a lid that opens, and some other miniature dangles.

Charm bracelets were still popular in the 1950s and 1960s, so I got my own starter bracelet with a tiny silver heart locket. I got a new charm for birthdays and special occasions, and my charm bracelet is loaded with a grand piano, a Canadian flag, a ballerina, a bear from Yellowstone park, a mailbox, a Graduation cap, and various odds and ends, some of which move. I stopped adding charms in the 1960s, because hippies didn’t wear charm bracelets. They were too dangly and dainty, and clinky, making noise on your wrist and catching in embroidered clothing, and anyway we were all about the ethnic and bold jewelry at that time. So my charm bracelet ended up in my sentimental jewelry stash, where it has been ever since.

I still remembered the thrill of getting a new charm to mark occasions, though, so I made sure the Baby had her own bracelet, although she wasn’t much interested. Still is was a rite of passage in my mind.

But looking at Mom’s and my own charm bracelets made me nostalgic and something more. No way would I wear mine now. For one thing, it is too little to fit comfortably around my wrist. But I really like the idea of wearing collected memories, and some of those charms are just so cool. Then I thought about the necklaces I made from my gumball and crackerjack charms. Hmmm. I would wear a necklace. But a necklace full of silver charms could be clunky and heavy. And maybe, even, gasp!, tacky. But when has tacky ever stopped me? So I have decided to take all my charms off the bracelet and put them on a necklace. But, this is me, so I can’t stop with that. If I am going to wear my life around my neck, it needs to be a bit more comprehensive. I belong to the “More is better” school of thought. So I am getting more charms to fill in other bits of my life. A tree and shovel and log cabin for when I lived in the woods, and met Mr. GG. A duck and a squirrel for my former pets. A wooly mammoth, just because I love wooly mammoths. A Snake Goddess from Crete for my love of all things Minoan. Enameled maps of the states I have lived in. A woodpecker in a tree, a quail, and a blue jay for the birds that currently make their way through our back yard and bring us such pleasure. A unicorn for the tattoo I got in 1976 in San Francisco. A blue and white teapot for the china pattern both Mom and I love. A couple of earrings my best friend gave me. Maybe I’ll get Mr. GG to make me a tiny copy of our wedding rings.

I have no idea if this necklace thing is gonna work out. But I am bound to have fun assembling it. And it combines a bunch of stuff I love to do – making things, buying things, considering appropriate symbols, and revisiting some of the best parts of my life and making them into something concrete.

Anyway, it is good to have a project, because the weather is still iffy, and ordinarily I would be out working in the yard. And thinking about making a necklace sure beats cleaning up the basement or moving piles of wet leaves from the perennial beds.

If you someday see a woman with a hefty, clunky, amorphous yoke of silver dangling into her cleavage, it just may be me. Try to look past the whole tacky side of it, and appreciate the fact that I condensed the high points of my life into a bunch of little charms. And if it is absolutely too hideous to wear, I will put it in a frame, and it will still serve a purpose. I told you I was a pro at justifying ANYTHING I wanted to do, didn’t I? Tacky or not, I think this idea is just…… charming. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


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