Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 23, 2010

History on the wrist

Charms have been worn for thousands of years to ward off evil or to bring good luck to the wearer. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Queen Victoria began a fashion trend of wearing charm bracelets among the European noble classes.

Jewelry designer Tracey Zabar, in her 2008 book, Charmed Bracelets, traced the appeal of the jingly accessory back to its origins and followed its history through the height of its appeal in the 1950s and 1960s, its ebb during the women's movement and its recent resurgence.

"There is something oh so adorable about a charm bracelet. Is it the jingle and jangle when the wearer moves around, or the fact that you have to get up close and personal to ogle over each quirky little charm? Laden with fond remembrances, tiny figurines, and sweet forget-me-nots, a charm bracelet shows a woman's history on her wrist ..."

Being the history nut that I am, it's that "history on her wrist" aspect that so appeals to me.

A silver bracelet I received as a young girl is filled with charms that remind me of my childhood. I haven't worn it in years, but whenever I take it out of my jewelry drawer, it always makes me smile.

A tiny train engine brings to mind our family's cross-country trips to California. Mickey Mouse reminds me of a highlight of those trips - a visits to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom.

A green four-leaf clover and a cocker spaniel bring back memories of my childhood closer to home. 4-H projects and the county fair were an important part of my years on the farm as was Dusty, our crazy mutt that would sit on his hind haunches begging for as long as was required to secure a scrap from the table.

A "Sweet 16" emblem, a church with a steeple, a "Senior 71" pendant and a graduation cap recall other important events, but my favorite is a miniature book - a gift from big brother Dave. The cover is inscribed with "The Teen Commandments" and inside are 10 "rules" for growing up. Among them:

Stop and think before you drink.
Don't let your parents down; they brought you up.
Choose a date who would be a good mate.
Avoid following the crowd. Be an engine - not a caboose.

I've given charm bracelets to our two daughters Mariya and Katie, to my sister Gaila, to nieces Gabriela and Larisa, to best friend Deb and to others.

Mariya's bracelet includes an art palette representing her interest in art and a comedy/tragedy mask showing her participation in plays in high school.

Katie's has a goldfish as a remembrance of Dandelion, her first pet, and music notes to represent her passion for the violin and singing.

I hinted for several years that I wanted another charm bracelet and a couple of years ago, the girls gave me one with a heart-shaped charm inscribed "Mother we love you." I've only added one charm to it since then - a hand-fasting ring emblem from our trip to Ireland. I guess what I need now is to add more noteworthy events to my life so I can add a bit more history to my wrist.

My childhhod bracelet had a small steam engine - upper left - to recall our family trips by train to California. Our family dog and trips to Disneyland prompted my receiving charms to the left and right of the little book charm my brother gave me.

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