The long colourful bracelet

“Good memories are like charms… each is special. You collect them one by one, until one day you look back and discover they make a long colourful bracelet.

James Patterson, author

I happened across this quote the other day, and it brought to mind my mother’s charm bracelet. They were quite the thing in her day. My grandmother (her mother-in-law) also had one. Indeed, it may have been my grandmother who suggested it to my father, for they offered almost endless, present buying options.

My mother’s charm bracelet is actually gold (in the main) rather than colourful. The birth of each child was marked with a charm – mine was an old fashioned pram with a pale blue pillow, a perpetual reminder that I was expected to be a boy πŸ˜‰ Significant anniversaries were marked likewise, so my mother received two charms for her 21st birthday – the pram for my arrival just two days after that significant date, as well as a gold 21. Places visited upon our travels offered more inspiration – my childhood favourite being the tortoise for a Christmas holiday spent in the Seychelles during a hurricane, while some charms had a double significance – the bull for the holidays spent in my grandparents’ retirement villa in Spain, as well as my mother’s birth sign of Taurus.

We travelled a fair bit when I was young – lengthy periods of leave every 3 years saw us visiting different parts of Europe to catch up with my parents’ old friends. In truth, I find myself struggling to remember the vast array of charms, since my mother stopped wearing her bracelet some time ago. I can’t say I blame her for it’s bulky and snags on everything – door handles and clothing in particular.

Writing this led me to the realisation that the bracelet holds keys to memories of my mother’s life with my father. He’s been gone for some years, and now could well be a good time to sit down with my mother – with her bracelet – and to see what memories come to mind. My father was the great raconteur in our family, nevertheless I suspect there’s a treasure trove of family history right there waiting to be told.

Do you collect physical reminders of experiences and events in your life? If so, what form do they take?


Β© Debra Carey, 2022

27 thoughts on “The long colourful bracelet

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  1. We have shot glasses from every new place we go as a family. It’s kitsch but I like it. I have my daughters artwork from childhood framed on the walls. Otherwise, not too many things

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  2. So those charm bracelets are best left in a box until used as a prompt for family history? That makes sense. I don’t even wear watches anymore because they are annoying while typing.

    I think teacups and Christmas ornaments have become my mementos. It’s nice to have a cup of tea and remember our trip to Thornbury castle, for instance. And at Christmastime, I put the fuzzy alpaca on the tree and remember the guy who insisted alpacas “don’t really spit” just before an angry alpaca mama let him have it in the face.

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  3. I have charm bracelets from both my Grandmother and Mother. So many wonderful memories! I started my own and buy charms on my travels. I have them on a 30″ sterling silver necklace. Less likely to snag fabrics.

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  4. Mom had one with coins on it, that I don’t know the story behind. I imagine that Dad bought it for her but it wasn’t the type you added to. I had one with, mostly, rhinestone studded little animals and a few charms that my mother bought for me. One more thing that brings up feelings of annoyance at the burglars that cleaned all those things out, though most of them were not worth money. I’ve thought about starting a new charm bracelet. I feel too told to add things to it slowly and too cheap to do it all at once.

    Still I like the story of your mom’s bracelet. I used to love playing in my mom’s jewelry box while she rolled and dried her hair. But my family doesn’t tell the stories of things. If you have family pictures, make sure they’re labeled with who is in them and what was happening. Get the story if you can. My mom’s family ends with my brothers and me. I guess perhaps no one will care about the stories but I still wish I knew them.

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  5. Beyond having a charm bracelet as a girl, the only thing I can think of involving physical reminders of events and experiences is… a shot glass from the Hard Rock Cafe in Kona, HA, where 20+ years ago I had the last bar shot of my life. I use the glass now as a little flower vase. We grow older and tastes change, don’t you know?

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  6. My mom had one as well, filled with charms for each one of us girls (4) and her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I am so glad she passed it on to my daughter before she died.

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  7. Many years ago, my daughter gave me a lovely silver charm bracelet with charms representing family members. It’s been languishing in my jewelry box. I think I’ll go look for it, maybe even wear it again.

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  8. Kitsch AND small. Nice work LA! You’ve found something which fits in with your smaller living aesthetic really well.
    And a big thumbs up to having your daughters artwork framed – me too. πŸ™‚ I’ve a box of “treasures” under my bed which travel with me on each move as I can’t bear to part with them, although I cut them down to one archive storage box which was a tough enough project.

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  9. Autumn, I think it’s sad in truth that it’s been put away, but I understand my mother’s decision. None of us would wear anything like it – I don’t even wear a wristwatch anymore as it bangs on my desk as I type, and I’ve killed too many watches that way. I’m going to suggest that the charms get removed and split up among family so we can wear them on chains around our neck – changing them up as suits the mood or occasion.

    Such a good call on teacups & christmas ornaments. I used to collect antique teacups, but sold them in my big downsize, keeping only my favourite. But I love the idea of having them as a momento of a visit which you can then re-visit over a cup of tea. As for christmas ornaments, they are a major weakness of mine and I’m overly emotionally invested in them – until my granddaughter breaks one, when I’m all “it doesn’t matter darling, so long as you’re not hurt”. πŸ˜€

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  10. Carol, I think that’s the only way they can be practical. I’m planning on suggesting to my mother that she breaks hers up (or maybe instructs one of us to do it after she’s gone). I think we have my grandmother’s bracelet somewhere too. Sadly, she’s long gone so we’ve no way to interpret her charms.

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  11. Zazzy, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost those family memories in a burglary. My friend lost all her mother’s jewellery that way and said it was like losing her mother all over again. I get what you mean about replacing it though, it’s just so terribly expensive to do it all in one go.

    Every member of my family did exactly as you describe – we played with my mother’s jewellery box. On her last visit, my granddaughter had the time on her life in there, especially as there’s a lot of costume jewellery, some of which she got to take home πŸ™‚ I am determined to get the stories. My daughter tried to get my father to repeat his stories to her on tape, but without the social scenario, he felt awkward. Unfortunately, he then got dementia, so I won’t let that happen with my mother.

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  12. Yup Ally, exactly so. I used to collect all sorts of stuff, but now it’s mostly the mundane that I treasure, and which still makes me smile when I take it out. I have a little note from my old filofax (remember those!) where I’d written upcoming birthdays. My daughter wrote alongside her name & date – buy lots! It’s so different to how she is now that I cherish it.

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  13. Oh that’s lovely Janet, and great that she passed it on before she died. My mother has been doing likewise with most of her jewellery – other than what she likes to wear daily, and we do treasure the pieces even more so as they’re not (yet) associated with grief.

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  14. Nicki, what a lovely gift, even if the last couple of years have hardly given us the opportunity to wear jewellery. I hope getting it out brings you happy thoughts.

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  15. That she did Ally, that she did! Her daughter is very much like her I’m delighted to say. We get to enjoy the laughs all over again πŸ˜€

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  16. Such an awesome response to broken ornaments. I highly recommend fuzzy miniature alpaca ornaments for just this reason (although that makes them susceptible to canine theft).

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  17. Autumn, fortunately there are no canines in my granddaughter’s vicinity, so I shall recommend them forthwith. It may be that her head has already been turned by the shiny pretty (horribly expensive) glass baubles her grandmother owns, but I shall try hard. Very hard. Those glorious glass baubles must be kept safe πŸ˜‰

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  18. Now there’s an idea James. I imagine that, having only one charm, it’s less likely to get caught up in stuff. Funnily enough, I was feeling really adrift the other day and decided to put on a couple of family rings – one from my mother and one from my grandmother – and it really helped me to feel rooted once more.

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  19. Lovely post, and such a sweet back story to your mother’s charm bracelet. I’m sure those future conversations with her will be wonderfulπŸ’«

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  20. Thank you so much Cherryl. My mother told me she recently gifted it to my granddaughter (she’s not yet 5) but who simply adores all kinds of over the top jewellery, so I’ve engaged my daughter to bring it with her on a visit so we can do it together. I know my daughter loves to hear the family history, and she’ll be able to pass the stories on to her daughter when she’s older.

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