By LORINDA HENRY
I am sitting here with my brand new mug labeled “Grammy,” a fresh chapter in Mother’s Day for me. When I was little, everything pre-printed was emblazoned “Grandma,” or “Grandmother,” with none for Grammy. Same for my kids who had a Grammy in my mother, and a Memere in Bob’s. Now “Grammy” seems to be having its moment in the sun.
Since Slade can’t read, or can hardly speak, it doesn’t matter to her, but I like it. Nor can she yet invent and execute any pots of marigolds or exclusively designed jewelry. I am waiting for my turn at that. I remember a very long string of beads I made for my mother – the beads made by cutting up pastel waxed paper straws. I believe she actually wore it once or twice, to my satisfaction. I got jewelry made from white and charcoal colored buttons, and other pieces in a variety of plastic beads in such unusual color combinations they either complimented everything– or nothing. I wore them, of course.
Popular adornments in the twentieth century were the offspring of industry and affordability back in the day. Because of the machine-made components, a kid couldn’t hope to compete. Expansion band ID bracelets were huge among young people. I longed for one but never did get one. The little clear globe with a mustard seed inside was a big deal in my middle school years. I never had one of those either,, but wasn’t as concerned – in my family we were wary of anything that might be construed as religious.
Later, in high school, my mother nixed ankle bracelets, considering them too racy. Then there were discussions about a class ring. Mom pointed out that since I was college bound, I would want to wear my college ring instead, so a high school ring really wasn’t worth the money. (Later when I was graduating from Johnson, a class ring seemed too bourgeois for words and I didn’t get one then, either. I never regretted it, except once when folks were selling them off for the gold content!)
When I was 9, Grammy bought at the Fair, three strings of pearly pop beads. Theyy were such a huge fad at the time one of my friends started collecting one or two from each girl he could coax, trying to get a complete suite of all known colors. My grandmother liked them because she hated anything heavy around her neck. I liked them because of all the frosty colors and the unique feel of popping them apart and together I don’t think Mom cared for them much at all, at least she didn’t have any.
Instead she had lovely long swaths of paper straws, patiently strung by her kids. We couldn’t make expansion bracelets, and she wouldn’t need an ID anyway, for we all knew who she was. But we could bedeck her like a Christmas tree in anything we could thread on to a string. I think she may have kept them in a lovely powder jar I got her once, when Gram gave me actual money to spend on her birthday. It was of orange iridescent glass with a rather large poodle on top. I thought it the epitome of elegance. Many years later I thought of that box when one of my girls wanted a plastic swan planter to grace the front yard. My fear of being bourgeois didn’t conflict for long with a little girl’s longing. I let her have it, of course I did.
By the end of this week another royal wedding will have bedazzled the world with jewelry, fashion, pomp, and circumstance. But I contend that Ms. Markle will not experience the full satisfaction of adornment until someday a small royal will hand over a necklace composed of straws and buttons and lots and lots of love.