Friday, August 24, 2012


Look at how proud she is!

I love clothes.  And I love jewelry.  Not in a Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend sort of way, though I do find all the sparkling very pleasing to the eye.  My love for jewelry is far more complex. 

On the surface, you can wear an interesting necklace over and over and over again, pairing it with different dresses, blouses, sweaters and tops.  The same can be said for earrings and bracelets.  I mean how many times has a big, bold pair of earrings made a plain, white t-shirt or tank-top sing a song?  I don't know the exact answer to that question but I know it's a lot.  The same can not be said of a "statement" dress or blouse.  I tire of those pieces far more easily and need to let them rest longer between wears.  And let's face it, re-wear-ability is important to under-employed girls like me.

Jewelry also takes up less space in my home so I can keep pieces forever, which I do.  I have a capital "E" charm that my aunt gave me when I was like 10 yet I have none of my monogrammed sweaters from that era.  No, I couldn't wear them today.  People would think I had lost my mind.  But I would love to be able to touch them and look at them again.

Most importantly, a truly great piece of jewelry can tell more stories than any other piece in your repertoire.  I wear my grandmother's engagement ring and wedding band, along with two other small bands, one a gift from my husband that has my sons' birth stone and one a gift from me, all on my wedding ring finger.  When I look down at my left hand, the moment each piece came into my life flashes in my mind.  And I don't take for granted the fact that my grandfather and grandmother married and started their long and successful life together during the depression.  Times can get tough but they always get better.
The end result of all my hoarding is a collection of pieces that range in value from a buck or two like the yellow Brazilian Bahia Band that my magical friend Julie gave me, her newly ordained minister (I can do funerals, too!) at her wedding, to other pieces valued at quite a bit more.  And it is all scattered in drawers, baskets, those pocketed hanging jewelry holders, two jewelry trees, various shelves, and of course, the top of my dresser.  I forget about pieces and pieces are lost, at least temporarily, all the time.  I mean sure it's initially exciting when you happen upon an old, missing brooch in the back of a drawer under a scarf; it's almost like getting it all over again.  Then you think about the outfit it would have perfectly completed for that holiday party back in 2007 and you end up feeling a little pissed off.

It all needs to be contained and because I love looking at the pieces so much, some of it really needs to be displayed.  Some of these pieces really are art.  I owe it to them and their creators.  Plus, I could be enjoying them more every day, even if they aren't adorning my wrist, neck or ears.  Especially now.  

I just had a birthday and received three beautiful, interesting necklaces, two sparkly pairs of earrings and a bracelet of wooden beads.  I also received a very special piece from my mother: her aunt, my great aunt's, silver charm bracelet.  I had long admired it on my mom's arm, apparently out loud, on more than one occasion.

"Mom, I really like that bracelet."

"So you've mentioned."

"Mom, was that Aunt Cece's or Aunt M's?"

"Aunt M's."

"Mom, why does your mom's bracelet have all the crosses and Virgin Mary charms and her sister's doesn't have anything religious on it at all?"  I managed to score my grandmother's gold charm bracelet years ago.  I think I borrowed it and kept it. 

"I don't know.  Uncle Ed gave her the charms."

"Mom, have you ever noticed that Aunt M's bracelet has the charm that you spin and it says 'I Love You' and your mom's bracelet has the same type of spinning charm but when you spin it, it says 'Go To Hell'?"

"Is that what it says?  I'm getting old.  I can't see those tiny letters."

I didn't realize what I was doing all this time until she gave the bracelet to me for my birthday, along with a butter dish I had actually asked her to will to me.  The whole thing freaked me out a little.
"Jesus Christ, Mom.  Are you dying?"

"You're not even 70 and you walk and do Pilates every day.  You think the end is somehow near?  Why are you clearing this stuff out?"

"I know how much you like them and it's better than writing you another check." The Bell's, my family, are big on birthday checks.
And then the tears came.  I'm not sure who started it, maybe it was my mom, maybe it was me.
"Oh, here we go; there goes The Catholic."  This is the favored pet name my father bestowed upon my mother 43 years ago when they married.  He's Episcopalian.  "God damned maudlin Irish."  My dad once again shook his head and chuckled to himself over his wife's sentimentality.

I walked over and hugged The Catholic.  I know she lives for moments like this.  And that's one of the many reasons I love her so.  Even more than I love the out of control heaps of jewelry that I sift through on my way out the door each day.


Any suggestions on how to best keep and display the family jewels?  And which would you choose?  Love or Hell?