Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charming Souvenirs

The incredible charm of the souvenir memories dripping off of a golden chain.
          In English, when we speak of "souvenirs" we are usually referring to "something given or kept" -- read tangible -- "as a reminder of a place visited, an event, a first love . . ." The second meaning of the word, rarely employed, is "memory" or the holding of an intangible moment in our minds.

        In French, it's the same, but opposite. A souvenir in normal first usage is a memory and the object used to trigger and honor that memory is the souvenir.

       Are you starting to think, "there she goes again"(?) wondering where my scattered brain is taking us today. It's simple: The memory of my lunch with my dear, dear friend Judy on Sunday who was wearing her charm bracelet on a wrist also decorated with gold bangles of various sizes.

      We played with her bracelet as she ticked off the memories related to the gold souvenir memory markers hanging off of the bauble. She had cats, some with jeweled eyes -- she's a cat person -- an Eiffel Tower, a simple disk engraved with an Indian love poem from her husband and many other charms.


Some of the charms, already on my bracelet: A golden heart that has my mother's baby teeth marks on it,  a baby shoe when Andrea was born and my first German shepherd (these are not my charms, but you get the idea).
           Instantly, I wanted to take my bracelet, dripping with souvenirs, out of my jewelry box, polish it and, after a long hiatus, start wearing it again. A little later, it also occurred to me that there is still room to add more memories on the chain that was once my great grandfather's watch fob and given to me by my mother.

      All the charm of the charm bracelet came rushing back to me.


     I have a French friend who has a gorgeous bracelet heavily laden with her memories, which she says has been one of her greatest jewelry joys. "It also makes gift-giving so easy for my husband and children," she told me. "When they can't think of a gift for me, they choose a charm. I cannot begin to tell you what the bracelet means to me."

      Curiously, my bracelet has no charms to remind me of Paris or France which seems odd to me when I think about it. I have more than 25 years of some of the happiest souvenirs/memories of my life stored neatly away in my mind and yet not one charm to show for them.


      Cliche or not, I think I'll request an Eiffel Tower for my birthday.

32 comments:

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

About a year ago, I brought out my charm bracelet and enjoyed wearing it again...unfortunately for a teacher it is a little noisy, but you have just encouraged me to wear it on weekend outings...lunch with a good friend. Have a great day, Tish!

Madame Là-bas said...

i like the idea of taking the charm bracelet out of the jewellery box. Each of those charms can evoke a memory. I have a forty year old sterling charm bracelet
in my box. Unfortunately, I don't wear much silver. The bracelet in your post reflects a full and rich life.

Déjà Pseu said...

I have a small silver charm bracelet from childhood with mostly horse-related charms. I've been wanting to start a grown-up version in gold...an Eiffel Tower would definitely be one of the first collected.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I do like your charm bracelet and yes to that birthday request an Eiffel Tower would be most appropriate!
There is a clerk in my local book sellers that wears a necklace laden with silver charms. It looks fabulous on her but it must be so very heavy to wear.
I have a bracelet which has diamond studded hearts. I have 5 so far and hope to collect more. Perhaps my birthday request will be another one!

sisty said...

My gold charm bracelet is lost, but I had just started it so there weren't very many charms. I now wear an antique silver one with a few antique charms and new ones I'm adding as I go along. I wear it on the same wrist as my watch.

Sherry said...

My mother had a charm braclet and I remember playing with it when I was a little girl. She had some that opened, some that turned ... and now that she is gone, I have that bracelet. I have one of my own, which my mother started for me when I was 13. Right now though, I'm feeling the urge to take out my mother's and have a little "play" with it. I'm glad you're requesting an Eiffel Tower for your birthday.

Jen said...

Oh, I love this! After a ten year hiatus, I've started wearing my sterling charm bracelet again, too. For some reason, I thought charms didn't suit a woman in her 20s, but they suit me perfectly in my 30s. I love the heft and jangle of a bracelet laden with charms--it garners attention wherever I go!

vicki archer said...

I need to get mine out...:) xv

wellfedfred said...

I resented the charms I was given as a child/teen: a secretary desk, a typewriter, a stove, lots of hearts... I was happy to sell that bracelet. It had nothing to do with the life I wanted. As a big grown-up lady d'un certain (ahem) I collected my own: a kiosk, a Vespasienne, a carousel, a bidet, a ferris wheel, a trunk with hotel labels, champagne bottle - yes, souvenirs of the life I've made for myself. And happy with it.

Anonymous said...

I received a sterling charm bracelet when I was in my early teens. Still have it and wear it on occasion 40+ years later. The bracelet now has a mix of silver and gold charms- I'm not bashful about mixing metals, nor about jingling at work.

Jen on the Edge said...

I have a silver charm bracelet that I've been adding to for a number of years. My charms are from nearly every vacation I've been on, so it's getting a little heavy. Eventually, I'll probably end up splitting up my charms into two bracelets -- one with charms from our trips to England and one with all the rest.

My daughters are 12 and 14 and have charm bracelets that match mine. I started them when the girls were babies. Now, when we go on vacation, I buy charms in triplicate, one of each of us.

I have also added individual travel-themed charms that related to each daughter's specific interests and experiences. For example, one daughter loves to snorkel with her father, so I got her a silver mask/snorkel charm. On a recent trip, the other daughter got to take the controls of a relative's airplane, so I got her a silver charm to commemorate that experience.

My husband always laughs when any of us wear our bracelets, as we all sound quite jingly and merry when we move.

California Girl said...

I have my mother's gold charm bracelet with many ornaments. I have tried wearing it but it is too heavy and it makes so much noise. The charms are 18k, beautiful, studded with small precious stones. I would love to wear it but cannot for both reasons above. sigh.

Duchesse said...

Oh yes, do add a charm that represents your life in France. If a Tour Eiffel is too clichéd, why not
http://www.polyvore.com/rosato_city_paris_baguette_18k/thing?id=5407029

or simply a charm from Cartier?

D. A. Wolf said...

What a lovely post! And what a shame that charm bracelets are not as "in vogue" as they once were, which of course doesn't mean that we cannot bring them back and allow the to star as a signature accessory!

I have fond souvenirs/memories from childhood of my mother's charm bracelet, and one given to me as well - silver - put away somewhere and with charms given to me in the 60s and early 70s, best I recall.

One of my grandmothers also had a luxurious charm bracelet with somewhat ornate doodads on it - hers in old - but I associate it with her so lovingly that even now, though she's been gone for more than 20 years, I can still picture it.

Love the idea that you will pick up a little something very Parisian for your bracelet.

Francine Gardner said...

I often wear my mother's charm bracelet, a gold tour Eiffel would be a nice addition

Anonymous said...

i lost my precious charm bracelet when i was 13 years old on a family trip.
when my mother and grandmother passed away i inherited their charm bracelets which are very special to me. instead of wearing both, i combined all the charms from both bracelets and then added
the links from the empty one and made a necklace from both. i get tons of compliments on it and always think of the 2 special people that wore them before me.

Rhiannon said...

How lovely!

When I began traveling abroad, I started a travel bracelet. I'm not really the kitschy magnet or shot glass type, and I liked the idea of having one piece of jewelry that told the story of all my years of adventure, and how I might pass it down to a niece or nephew someday.

Since I've got a lot of ground to cover on one bracelet, I save space by using mostly antique enamel travel shields.

Each city or meaningful town is represented by its own colorful shield while modes of transportation get sterling three-dimensional figurals.

Of course, some charms are harder to pin down than others.

Finding planes and trains were easy, and even a little horse-drawn surrey and car ferry weren't that tough, but it took me ages to find a funicular and an aerial tram for last fall's visit to the Spanish mountain top monastery of Montserrat.


Lane said...

I have my old silver charm bracelet, but it has no adult memories-- there is a piano, bluebird, canoe; I would love to start a gold one now.

Gretchen said...

I love reading the stories of others' bracelets - as much a treat as hearing of your adventure. I could never part with my charm bracelet, any more than I could my pearls. I love the tiny bell-like sound it makes as it clinks into another link bracelet I wear, and just seeing the various charms brings small moments of joy when I see them during the day. I don't save memorabilia or take many photos as sentimentality isn't my thing. But my bracelet and my memory bank? Full up to the brim.

Chicatanyage said...

When I inherited my mother's charm bracelet it was so full of charms, every time my father travelled abroad on business he bought back a charm, you can tell which country they came from. Anyway it seemed too heavy to wear so I divided it up and gave one half to my daughter. Hopefully it will go down the generations in perpetuity.

The American Suburbanite in Rural England said...

I have had charm bracelets since I weas a little girl. They are favorite pieces to wear. Unfortunately my childhood bracelets were stolen, but I have a new one, in a bag with a ton of charms I need to put on it! I also have a pandora bracelet, and the charms are just as meaningful.

toko busana muslim murah said...

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Coco Love said...

My gold charm bracelet is full and heavy with jeweled charms and opening ones also moving ones. Each child and grandchild has a charm that represents their particular interest or characteristic. I wear it nearly every day with another gold bracelet and apparently I'm "known" for wearing it. It does get a lot of admiring glances. I couldn't imagine not wearing it now.

MelMel said...

I'm not a bracelet wearer so my childhood charms were moved onto a long silver necklace and have been added to for many years now. Like Rhiannon I think jewelry is a much better vacation souvenier than a plastic fridge magnet and so much easier to find room for in the suitcase.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, I moved all the charms both gold and silver to a necklace. It is less in my way and fun to wear!

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Catherine Robinson said...

I still have my charm bracelet my Grandmother gave me as a little girl; all the charms have so many loving memories...my daughter was given a charm bracelet for her birthday a few years ago and her first charm...the Eiffel Tower ;-)
Lovely post, Tish.
Catherine
xx

catherine said...

I love my charm bracelets! And so excited to read this post. Both my grandmothers had charm bracelets and then my mom and then as a preteen i got one in sterling as an adult i started one in gold. My favorite charm is one i have that was on my grandmothers bracelet....the little girls silohuotte with my name and birthdate. I sometimes wear them both together on the same arm....my rolex is mixed metal and if rolex can do it, so can i.

rubiatonta said...

I have two sterling charm bracelets that I wear together, on the same wrist. One was started for me by my paternal grandmother, who had a gorgeous gold charm bracelet of her own, now in the possession of my sister (I don't wear yellow metal).

My first charm was for Cadettes, and the last one she gave me, just before she died, was a little hatchet. She said it was to help remember her by, "the old battle axe"!

For Xmas this year, I was given a quahog charm in honor of the town I grew up in -- your post has reminded me to take it to the jeweler's and have it soldered on.

I love the clink and jingle when I wear my bracelets, and they make great conversation-starters (not to mention child-distractors).

hopflower said...

I think the meaning is the same in English; regardless, the object is a memento of a feeling.

Laura said...

sadly my original charm bracelet was stolen with much of my both good and sentimental jewelry; 50+ I wondered if it was "worth it" to start over again--I did and am so pleased I did so--no real effort to recreate the original one but other charms recall the both far distant and nearer memories

Pat said...

Attach it to an old gold chain and wear it as a necklace.

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