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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Charms of the past

When I was little I loved playing in my maternal grandmother’s clothes and jewelry.  She had the most amazing things that glittered, shined, sparkled, and were full of color.  Mom was an Army brat and they traveled all over the US and Europe.  Grandma had dresses that she bought in Paris, jewelry from Rome, and memories that made my little head spin.  While the dresses hung off of me, the shoes were way too big, and the gloves slipped off my hands I always felt so glamorous playing dress up in her attic.

My grandmother died when I was in high school and she left me, as her only granddaughter, her jewelry.  At that time I couldn’t see past the plastic and old battered remnants of days gone by.  There were a few good pieces that struck me as awesome, but the rest was, well, old.  It took me a few months (okay years) to appreciate what I had because at 16, you really are dumb.

A few months after she died I went to my boyfriends (now husband) senior prom wearing a necklace, earrings, and bracelet set of 1950’s vintage rhinestone jewelry that she left me.  This all before the vintage rage took off too.  I felt quite the trend setter and fabulous in my rhinestones.  Over the years I have set down again and again with my grandmother’s jewelry boxes going through all the pieces.  She has several items that my grandfather bought her when he was stationed in various places.  Service pins from the Boy Scouts, American Red Cross, and her Eastern Star ring.  Presents from friends long gone with hand written notes to her thanking her for being a friend, plus so many more things including my most treasured item, her charm bracelet.
Grandma's charms
She told me she started her charm bracelet when she graduated from high school.  That would have been 1936.  The charm commemorating that is a diploma.  There are charms for her wedding next.  After that she added a charm for every duty assignment and trip they took as a family until my grandfather retired from the Army and they moved back home to Indiana.  The charms are on every link of the bracelet and to say it is overflowing with memories would be an understatement. 

I don’t know all the stories, my mom and uncles have told me a few, but these little pieces of silver have always intrigued me.  When I would miss her in the months and years following her death I would pull out this charm bracelet and think about her wearing it and collecting all the bits.  Shortly after I was married I started my own bracelet.  I have not been as dedicated to collecting charms as my grandmother was (can you believe that there are places that don’t sell charms?) but I try to collect ones when we take family trips that have a special meaning.  Also on it are 2 charms from my wedding cake, one for each of my babies, and one given to me when I became a mom.

Best off all I discovered recently that my grandmother and I share a charm. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before. We both have liberty bells from Philadelphia on our bracelets.  Now I am taking a closer look at it again to see what other adventures I have shared with my grandmother. 

*Image from unknown source

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