Costume jewelry always reminds me of my maternal grandmother. I do not ever remember seeing her without some sort of jewelry on – a necklace, earrings, a broach or even a bracelet. What ever the outfit she had jewelry to match. I recently saw this display and it brought back all those childhood memories. Now people buy it as ‘vintage’ and use it for so much more than jewelry. I have seen costume jewelry incorporated into art, display cases, jewelry boxes, and so much more. It isn’t just for grandmothers anymore. 

Strange how a colorful item like a blue sequined bow could remind me of my past. My maternal grandmother was from Anniston, Alabama. It’s a small town outside of Birmingham. I remember one time when she came to visit. She was standing at our front door looking outside. I ran out the front door to play football with my brothers and the neighborhood kids. She stopped me and called my Mom to the door. My grandmother was shocked that I was being  allowed to leave the house wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. I was not dressed appropriately for a young lady. My Mom laughed and shooed me out of the house. She told her mother that I was going out to play and my clothes were suited to that purpose. I had no idea what the fuss was about – what else should I be wearing to get creamed in football? The concept of jewelry for every outfit did not fit into the time and place where I grew up.

I was blessed that my Mom and Dad let me be me. They let me play with boys and dolls, run around untethered and unsupervised. I could wear dresses if I wanted, or dirty jeans and tennis shoes. We did not have boy jobs or girls jobs, we had jobs around the house. Any one of us was expected to do the job. I mowed lawns, my brothers washed dishes and vacuumed. They taught me to do anything and everything. I learned about power tools and baking, setting tables and starting the lawn mower. They raised us the same, no matter the gender. Of course that changed once we began noticing the opposite gender, and yet curfew was the same for me as for my brothers. Fair was fair. 

My grandmother grew up in a time when appearance was supremely important, and looking the part of a young lady was always top of mind. I grew up in a time when I was encouraged, allowed, taught to be myself and learn anything I wanted. I could do anything I set my mind to doing – even survive football with the neighborhood kids. My education included all the things my brothers knew and they learned the hosuhold things I learned. We were treated the same, and yet as the unique individuals we were created to be. 

During this season when we think of gifts to show our love, why not give your children (or the children in your life) the ultimate gift…teach them to know and love themselves…no jewelry required. It is the gift that will keep on giving for the rest of their lives. 

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