What Makes a Treasure
There is much disconnectedness in our day. How often we feel like scattered leaves being blown individually by the wind: pushed along, separated and alone. But there are ways to encourage deeper stability.
Bonds of shared joy are priceless.
Family traditions ground us.
Shared histories root us.
Long-lasting community ties establish us.
Roots cannot grow in isolation, but only in community. Roots only come from close ties with others. And the strongest roots, of course, are those grown in the loam of loving relationship.
The pieces you see here are small but meaningful anchors to my personal loving past. None of them hold much monetary value, but all are priceless, because each one connects me to someone else—a person much loved and our bond of shared joy. So every time I wear one of these pieces, I am reminded of them and of stories from my past. I am reminded that I am included in a long line of loving people: parents, grandparents, neighbors, children. Roots and stability.
Perhaps you do not have such a past. But you can certainly be a part of helping to establish roots for those around you. Is there a lonely young neighbor you can have tea and cookies with regularly? Over time, the presence of an authentic, loving person—even if just for a season—sends down roots and establishes anchors. A long-lasting gift!
The small plastic heart I treasure and wear often was given me by my dear neighbor, Mrs. Faw. I was a young mother—and trying to be a good one—and she was an old lady with no children near. She regularly built into my life, spending time, offering gentle advice, helping teach small lessons to my little ones (she taught Daniel how to blow his nose… it had never occurred to me that you could or should teach such a thing!).
When we moved away, she gave me one of her treasures, a dainty plastic heart with “Japan” stamped on the back. And what a treasure it has been to me all these years. Mrs. Faw is long gone and now I am an old woman, and I must ask myself if I am doing the same kind of digging-deep, root-work for others that she did for me. If we do not possess this kind of loving stability in our own past, we can still gift it to those around us.
There are skin-deep treasures that may be worth big bucks, but they don’t hold a candle to those precious treasures that carry a greater kind of wealth. My mother never had jewels. She always said that her four daughters were her jewels and that was wealth enough for her.
This silver brooch with the blue stone belonged to my mother’s mother. I don’t remember my grandmother, but all the same, I know her from the many descriptions and stories told me by my mother. She was a true lady. She was gentle and exceptionally kind. She loved to sing. The stone is glass, but the brooch is elegant with its art nouveau style. It is probably from the 1890s, and I can imagine my grandmother wearing this on a jacket lapel or at the neck of one of her high-necked lace blouses.
My Great Uncle Wilmer, with his beautiful wife Alma, ran a trading post on the Navajo lands at Jedito, AZ, for 30 years. He was fluent in Navajo and he treasured the people. They only moved back to Albuquerque when Aunt Alma became ill, probably in the 1940s. I never knew Aunt Alma, but Uncle Wilmer was a pivotal figure in my life.
More like a grandfather, his presence was a massive oak in my family history. He taught me how to waltz when I was twelve. As a student at UNM he let me walk to his house any time I wanted. He would always be glad to see me and would make me Cowboy Coffee and sometimes buckwheat pancakes and let me do my studying there, surrounded by his beautiful rugs and kachinas.
When he died, we found unexpected treasures tucked away. They never were able to have children, but we found a tiny baby hairbrush set in a lovely little box, hidden away. We also discovered several pieces of old lace. One beautiful piece was green, and there was just barely enough to wrap around my neck and my wrist. I sewed tiny loops and little green beads to attach them, and now, every time I wear them, I am wearing a bit of my long-past, unique history, filled with memories of this great man in my life.
This pink glass brooch is the kind of pin that was worn at the throat of a lady’s high neck blouse in the 1800s. My mother gave it to me. I never saw her wear it, but it was her mother who wore it—my grandmother. What an honor it is to wear something my ladylike grandmother Rhoda wore!
I have kept my son’s football button in my jewelry case for 30 years! Many memories are attached to it….
These dainty round flower earrings were my mother’s, and I remember her wearing them. They are plastic screw-on earrings (screw them on until they hurt and then you know one won’t fall off!). They could make such beautiful things out of plastic in days gone by—or is it resin? I’m not sure! I do know that they are special to me because they were my mother’s.
Tiny “A” pin: this came from my husband’s grandmother. Sadly, there are no stories connected to it, but it was hers and “A” is for Alice so it means something that she would gift it to me.
This navy blue jacket belonged to my mother’s baby sister, the vivacious redhead, my Aunt Shirley. Somehow, over the years, I inherited several of her jackets and even her dress Navy uniform. She joined the WAVEs during WWII. She always said she joined the Navy because they had the cutest uniforms. She was right! And I love this stylish jacket that my own, darling aunt wore.
Even at the Tearoom, we have a tradition that is a fun way we deepen our bonds here. Every so often we set a date and all bring our extra clothing, shoes, or jewelry that we don’t want, are tired of, or can’t fit in, and have an exchange.
We lay everything out in the Library and everyone pores through, taking what they want. It is so much fun to see a coworker wearing a piece that we once wore!
“You look better in that blue dress than I ever did!”
“I love my old earrings on you!”
This tradition is simply one more way to connect and deepen the bonds.
The bonds of shared joy are priceless!
Yours for the return of Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,