Monday, January 11, 2016

Charm Bracelet Stories

I recently wrote a Christmas novella, Home for the Holidays, in which the main character Avery wears a silver charm bracelet. I was in the middle of writing the novella one day when I began scrolling through my Facebook news feed. I noticed a friend talking about gifting her daughter the first charm for her very own bracelet. This friend and I got into a conversation about the tradition of charm bracelets, and it seemed like the perfect addition to the story I was writing at the time. Especially because I have a charm bracelet of my own that I cherish.

It all started when I was young. I didn't have a charm bracelet of my own, but I noticed the one my mother wore. I loved the way it dangled gracefully from her wrist. It entertained me while we sat at church--I would finger each charm, inspecting the tiny photographs of me and my siblings, and ask about the other charms. It fascinated me.

So later, several years into my marriage, I asked for a charm bracelet for Christmas from my sweet husband, and started my own collection. I'm pretty sure it started with charms two through four (on the above picture) that year.

As my own collection grew, I was given a precious gift from my mother and father--my paternal grandmother's very own charm bracelet. (See below.)

My grandmother's charm bracelet.

This heirloom means so much to me. A wonderful reminder of a sweet woman I spent many hour with. Still, I wish I knew the story behind each of the charms. How fascinating that would be.

With that in mind, for posterity's sake and for your own curiosity, I've decided to write down what each of my charms are and what they mean to me.

My charm bracelet. As of now . . .

1. Nauvoo Temple Sunstone--The dearest thing to me is my faith and the knowledge that I can be with my family forever because of the blessings of the temple of the Lord Jesus Christ. This charm reminds me of temples and my eternal marriage.

2. Mother Holding a Baby--Given to me for Mother's Day the year I was pregnant with my third child, this charm reminds me of the most important career I will ever have--that of being a mother. The fact that it was given to me by my husband with all of his gratitude for being the mother of his children shows how supportive he has always been of my choice to be at home with our children while they were young.

3. Train--My oldest child was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. This charm will forever remind me what a blessing my son is in my life.

4. Teddy Bear--My second child's favorite toy was her "Corduroy Bear" that I even made green corduroy overalls for. They (my daughter and the bear) were adorable, and I never want to forget that.

5. Gecko--It wasn't as easy to settle on one charm to represent my youngest child. As a preschooler, there wasn't anything in particular that stood out except for his curiosity and desire to always be outside, moving around. He was fascinated with the geckos he found in our yard, and as our only Texan born child, he and the gecko seemed a good match.

6. Camera with Film Canister--When I got interested in photography and scrapbooking, it was before widespread digital cameras. How I loved my film Canon camera! I spent hours upon hours scrapbooking, chronicling our family's life, and as I look back on those albums, I am so grateful I did.

7. ASL "I Love You"--At one point, I became interested in American Sign Language and began taking classes. Though I never became proficient, I thought it was sweet that my husband bought me this charm as a profession of his love. Now, many years later, I am considering using ASL in an upcoming book (hopefully later this year, in fact), so eventually, it may have triple meaning.

8. "Y"--My Y charm reminds me of my precious time at Brigham Young University. It was where I became who I am today. Because of teachers and mentors there, I became a writer. I met my husband and many dear friends there. I was able to be part of the BYU marching band, and have so, so many  memories of that wonderful, peaceful campus. Even today, I look forward to spending time there at least once a year.

9. Peanut--You may notice that the charms are arranged more tightly from here to the end. It is because I took them to the end and am now on my way back, so this is actually the newest one. It was an anniversary gift from my husband a couple of weeks ago, and he gave it to me in a slightly open peanut shell. If you'd like to understand why the peanut, read my third book, Still Time. In that book, the main character and her husband share the same tradition with the peanut that my husband and I have. I like that this charm has dual meaning commemorating my fun relationship with my husband as well as my book Still Time.

10. Running Shoe--This charm has a double meaning as well. Not only does it help me celebrate the completion of my first ever half marathon, but also the completion of my first ever novel, Nourish & Strengthen.

11. Typewriter--This one is probably obvious. As a writer, I absolutely adore old fashioned typewriters. Also, it is a nod to my novella Home for the Holidays.

12. Texas--The last charm . . . well, what Texan doesn't have a Texas charm? You can't live here and not be proud of the state. And the shape is so cool. Beyond that, it stands for my second book, Family Size, a story where a transplant like me learns to love Texas and the wonderful people who live here. It is a reminder to bloom where you're planted. (It doesn't mean that Texas is better than any other place.)

I hope if you have a charm bracelet, you write down what each charm means to you so that someday your granddaughter will know you even that much better as she cherishes the family tradition.