Charm bracelets have a long history. In the 1970s they were still a popular fashion statement. 

On my twelfth birthday, my mother gave me a sterling silver chain with one charm that said Grown Up 12 in cursive. 

Is cursive a dying art form?

The next charm was a Holy Bible that opened. Inside, were the Ten Commandments.

If I use a magnifying glass …

Soon after, my parents brought charms from Hawaii and Italy. Family trips to Wisconsin Dells added a deer and an Indian Chief.  A Santa and a nativity scene hang out with my Lucky 13 and Sweet 16 birthday charms. Two pianos and a violin bring back memories of music lessons. A photo of my baby brother shows him wearing a pair of corduroy pants I sewed for him.

Later, I learned that some people keep to a theme, only collecting country flags, miniature 4-H medals, or favorite presidents.

Reminisce magazine featured a nostalgic look at charm bracelets they call Wrist Journals. As a writer, I like the idea that our bracelets tell stories.

Wrist Journals!

When I was sixteen, a local jeweler attached a colorful metallic map of Haiti. I bought it on a mission trip to help build a church. After that, I planned to fill every link, more chapters in my life story. 

Then my mom died. 

I didn’t add any more charms. I had rarely worn the bracelet that had grown clunkier with each addition.

Jewelry was never my thing. But the bracelet was our thing.

Why am I holding a plastic frog?

Now the story of my wrist journal is part mystery. My mother is not here to remind me where the cactus with a dot of turquoise came from, or why she gave me a charm of slender skis, ski poles, and a boot when I was terrified of the slopes. There is an hourglass, its sand shifts from one side to the other in one second. Was this representative of the finite time my mother and I would have together?

The bracelet, tarnished and tired from lack of wear and care, circles the base of my nightstand.

I see it every morning and every night.

I have lived a charmed life.

Do you own a charm bracelet?


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