Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making and Keeping Holiday Memories with Charms// by francy Dickinson

by francy Dickinson
Come visit me at my website for support of spouse and senior care givers

Along with the actual old pictures and family stories come the bits and pieces of memory; jewelry, buttons, badges, service pins and oddities. Every family has them…and I wanted to keep mine close to me to enjoy not put them in an old jewelry case and never see them again.

So out they come; coins from faraway places and charms from childhood. Baby rings in gold and an old locket that was my great grandmother’s with a tiny diamond in the middle and red hair tucked inside; all of this ready to put to use. I sorted through and found the things that would fit on a charm bracelet. Not the type of bracelet you see on QVC, but just all these little things that once meant so much to those who have now passed. From George’s dad there was one lonely gold and platinum cuff link and my aunt had a tiny pendant from her childhood Sunday school days. Two darling little frames for my dear mother and my sweetheart Georgie’s pictures and a gold four leaf clover that mother gave to me ages ago. There is a gold boat that George gave to me when we were cruising many years ago, it always makes me smile. A small earring from the Civil War era nestles in alongside a Eiffel tower charm from Paris all showing their stuff around the cuff. There’s a space needle charm from the Seattle World’s Fair next to a coin from the Alaska Bicentennial.

Along with a gold charm from my husband’s old travel business there is a tiny glass ball for dreaming. Someone gave us a charm on our wedding; a very small house that when you open the roof there are two people in beds inside. A mini fan from Spain and a polished rock from Mexico and a coin from Taipei marked 1987 all dangle and reflect the light.

Do you have a charm bracelet put away? Get it out; add a few family memories to it to make it your own and you’ll carry those stories with you whenever you wear it. It’s easy to do, don’t worry about gold or silver they blend together and my little pearl from my sister mixes in with it all. You will need gold rings that you find in the jewelry craft department of a place like Michaels. You will use these loop rings to attach your charm pieces to a sturdy silver or gold link bracelet that will be safe on your wrist. The loops come in all sizes so find one that is a little larger and strong so your charms will hang nicely around your bracelet. You might want to pick up a very small set of tweezers with a little magnifier from the store too. You will just open the little gold ring loop slightly and slip the charm through and then put it through the bracelet link. You close the loop ring back tight, with a squeeze of the tweezers, as it was before you opened it. Then move on till they are all done….as you work lay out the bracelet with the charms around it so they go on even and leave room to put new finds in here and there. I double the loop if the charm is heavy. This does not require you to be artsy or crafty… just open to the beauty of family memories carried on your wrist and willing to sit quietly with your mp3 player and a towel on your lap or table as you work. This towel will catch anything that magically tries to escape your fingers as you work.

When you have finished putting the charms on the link bracelet then lay it out and take a look. If you want to re-adjust it, this is the time. Once you have a collection that satisfies your eye…you replace the bracelet on top of a brown paper bag and then very carefully with your glasses firmly fixed to your nose and in a very good light…you put a tiny drop of Superglue on each small loop ring closure to make sure it does not come apart and let the charms drop off.

This is a great project to do on Christmas day or the week between the holidays. Take a look around and gather in any of your finds in a zip lock baggie. Ask your mom, sister, or spouse about special things they might be able to share with you and then your ideas will start ticking away to make your bracelet special and different from anyone else. This does not require fancy gold or solid silver…it will be a reflection of what you and your family treasures are at this time.

Now, I’m wearing my bracelet when I’m at home hosting a dinner or an “at home” night. I’m very careful when I go out to an event and only wear it when I can keep an eye on my wrist. I would wear it to a small dinner party, out for drinks or family gathering. That way the bracelet is kept next to my wrist without pulling on it or pulling it off in my coat cuff or gloves. This just protects you from a heart breaking loss. When I am not wearing it, I keep it in a nice padded bag so it has gentle comfort storage. I often rub the charms down with a jewelry cleaning clothe to make them shine. I also tuck in a small silicone square into the storage bag (you can find them inside your new purse or shoe boxes) they keep the bracelet dry where ever you store it. If you use a lot of gold in your bracelet, be sure to tuck it in a safe box so it is not easily taken.

You will find people asking you about the bracelet and it’s a great way to share family stories and keep the memories of those you love close at heart. Take a picture of the bracelet and add info on each charm so the next lucky gal to inherit your sweet jewels will understand the love and honoring that it represents.

There are so many bits and bobs in jewelry cases from your family and those around you…things you never wear any longer, or things that are odd looking and you always wondered what to do with them. Look at it all with a new eye and see if you can attach a loop and a ring to it to add to your collection. You can bring in things to jewelers and they will add a little loop to the top to add to your bling.

When you travel or something sweet is happening to you…add those little memories in with charms that may not be thought of as the usual charm. It makes for hours of comfort and pleasure. I am no longer afraid to ask for things from my elders. I have kept silent so long and seen the things I wanted to save and remember - just thrown away or sold at garage sales for pennies. So if you have seen something that you’re Auntie or Grandfather have had - just ask if you could have it given to you one day for your charm memory bracelet. Explain how you want to remember them and a special coin or other memory charm would be just the ticket to add to your collection.

What treasures do you have tucked away? I wish I could see in your grandmother’s sewing kit. I have my grandmother’s thimble and want to have a loop put on that as soon as I can and I have a very small Masonic pinky ring that was my uncle’s and I know it will be perfect. Oh, and there is only one of my first very tiny diamond earring left and I think I can have the jeweler fold the post over to make a loop. My mind’s eye is now trained to see charms in all that I view. Hope you find your treats and treasures rich and mild- start looking for those little things you have tucked away and get them out in the light again.

Blessings on your holiday …. Sometimes gentle gifts to our own self; are the moments of joy that we treasure the most.

Enjoy the project and think of the generations of girls that will wear your treasures for years and years to come. I always put a name on my special things with a note to the person I have designated to receive it in years to come. That way they will really feel a kinship to the jewelry and wear it with as much pride as I do. They will be remembering me and my family members from the past. I often tell them that one day it will be theirs and it always makes them feel even more interested in the stories and family memories.