Charmed, I’m sure

This year, as in years past, charm bracelets are a hot holiday gift item.

Most of the ones I see advertised come ready-made, with the decorative trinkets already dangling from them: bulbous hearts, seashells, and other, dare I say, gaudy baubles that may or may not bear any special significance to their wearer.

There do seem to be individual charms available for those who might like to personalize their bracelets to reflect their love of cats or ladybugs.

In my day (that’s what ladies of my age say when we reminisce), we accumulated charms based on our interests, hobbies or places we’d visited.

I started adorning my charm bracelet early on, with tiny pendants I collected in my younger years. My mother insisted we have the charms soldered on to the bracelet so they didn’t fall off. I’m pretty sure that somewhere I have a pouch of charms that we never got around to having soldered.

Last night, after seeing several holiday commercials for charm bracelets, I decided to dig mine out. I wondered what people would learn about me—or at least who I was as a child—simply by what hangs from my bracelet.

There are 20 charms, not counting the ones that were never affixed. Almost every one has a story of one kind or another:

  1. A train engine, representing a cross-country trip my father and I took in 1969
  2. An Alpine tram car, from our family trip to Switzerland in 1970
  3. A Christmas tree
  4. A crutch, representing my brittle ankles
  5. An ice skate, right next to the crutch
  6. A telephone, on which I spent many hours when I was young
  7. A space capsule, representing man landing on the moon
  8. A house; in particular, 4615 Duncan Drive, Annandale, Virginia
  9. A swimmer (technically it’s a diver wearing a light blue swim cap), from when I took swimming lessons–and failed
  10. A piano. You’ve already heard that story.
  11. A pendant bearing my astrological sign, Sagittarius
  12. A four-leaf clover, engraved with Lucky 13 for my 13th birthday on the 13th
  13. A framed photograph of my best friend, Mary Engdahl, who I hope will one day Google herself and find me here, because I sure as heck can’t find her
  14. A church, with a tiny window through which you can read the Lord’s Prayer
  15. A cowboy hat from the Ponderosa Ranch, a souvenir from Mary Engdahl
  16. An Amish buggy, from my trip to Lancaster, Pa., with Lisa Vernon and her family
  17. A dachshund, representing Gretchen, an early pet that used to belong to my Nana Marie
  18. A yellow and green flowered sleeping bag with the words Slumber Party engraved, representing a time when family friends stayed with us for an extended period. The charm was a gift from Becky Sterago who, when she gave it to me upon leaving, said sharing my room had been like one long slumber party
  19. Ballet slippers, representing another attempt at something I never mastered
  20. A black cat, representing Gus, my first feline friend

Somewhere I have an Eiffel Tower, a Sweet 16 and a few others, but I have no idea where they are.

I’ve already shared accounts of the family trip to Europe, a little about my love of the phone, my dislike of piano lessons and my zodiac sign. Many of the others could easily be woven into blog tales.

Which ones would you like to hear? Or do you prefer I keep my memories to the quiet jingle of the bracelet?

Better yet, what’s on your charm bracelet?


Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Holidays

16 responses to “Charmed, I’m sure

  1. Bruce McGuire

    Cross-country trips are always charming! Our family travelled to CA and back in a Mini Midas motorhome in 1972. That was a memorable trip.

  2. Shannon

    I would love to hear about the church and the Lord’s Prayer one. Or your friend who you can’t find. I found so many people (those ended both positively and negatively), but it would be interesting to hear about your friendship with her and how that shaped who you are today. Love, love, love…

    • The church really has no story, other than it was likely a gift from a relative, perhaps from my grandmother, whose signature sign-off, by the way, was “love, love, love.” Maybe my mother knows where it came from. I need to think about how to write about Mary, there are so many facets. Thanks for commenting, Shannon.

  3. chris

    My 51 year old sister actually wears her bracelet which makes even more the granny. For 50th I gave her a painter’s palette charm to celebrate her happiest hobby. For the last two days I have torn apart my relatively new home searching for my father’s Phi Beta Kappa key. The local jeweler shined it up and wrapped it up all nice. I think she will love it…

  4. Lesley Furton

    I remember very well many of the charms you describe. I remember you showing me the little phone. I thought it was so cool…though I wanted it for a doll house! When I wanted to get my my own charm bracelet to be like yours Grandma Marie started me with the bracelet and first charm for First Holy Communion. I had a horse, a ballet shoe (originally shoes but one fell off: Soldering is a good Idea!) and a what was supposed to be a cello. But if you looked very closely it had a chin rest so it was really a violin! Thanks for the Memories.

  5. I’m interested in the crutches. I have a charm of a cast for my knee surgery. Some kind of sick joke from my brother. Who wants to remember a surgery? 🙂

  6. Believe it or not, I have a charm bracelet too, just that I don’t wear it – it kind of goes against the image of a lean, mean and keen motorbiker. Come on, luv, show us a pic of your bracelet!

  7. Ellen

    Jazzercise needs a charm – something at which you excel.

    • Ordinarily I would have said, Yes! You’re right! and explored available promotional merchandise. I know a pendant exists because a woman I once worked with, who was an instructor at night, wore a gold Jazzercise pendant. However, our class recently moved to a martial arts studio with a carpeted floor. Several times in the last three weeks, I’ve gone to pivot, chassé, tango or twist and my leg/ankle/knee went one direction while my foot stayed in place. I am afraid that, before too long, the crutch will be the new Jazzercise charm.

  8. Jo

    Had many of the same charms — also many from failed attempts at skills or refinement. (I was actually ASKED TO LEAVE cotillion, but still had the ballroom dancing charm.) I soon forsook the charm bracelet as a sad reminder and took up the appallingly heavy ID bracelet thing. That was probably before your time.
    Did you have an add-a-pearl necklace?

    • Never had an add-a-pearl or add-a-bead. I was right in the middle of the ID bracelet craze but alas, no one ever gave me one. I did have a POW bracelet; does that count? Charles Claxton.

    • And, wait a minute. I’d have bet you were a good ballroom dancer. so sad to learn you were asked to leave. I know you’re a good square dancer, based on what I’ve observed at Parish Weekend.

  9. Pingback: Things to beguile the charmless (Part 1) « The Naked Listener's Weblog

  10. Polly

    Lesley, I could switch with you. I have what is supposed to be a viola, but no chin rest, so it looks more like a cello! I also have a baby cup (baby of the family), a jade Buddha, a 1st place blue ribbon, a scorpio (my sign) and a broken heart (a guilt trip from my mother).

    You piqued my interest the most with the swim class charm.

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