Shoebox of Joy

A timeline of my life spread out before us as we floated on my bed in a sea of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. A significant amount of these jewelry pieces I forgot I even had. They remained tucked away in a shoebox in the back of my bedroom closet since our move several months back.

My first gold cross necklace from when I was a young girl catches my eye along with my grandmother’s diamond heart necklace. Both remind me of my family roots and deeply held faith. A locket my husband gave me when we were in high school and a teal beaded necklace from our honeymoon in Maui remind me of the love we’ve shared.

All the memories came flooding back to me. It’s like when you hear that once familiar song or smell the scent that reminds you of that distant memory. As I sat there with my daughter sorting through my accessorized past, I let my jewelry take me back on a journey through the younger years.

Hadley found a little box of dangly earrings and dumped them out in her lap, tossing the box aside. She sifted through her pile as if  she was scooping up handfuls of sand looking for lost treasure. It was like she had been presented with a box of chocolates and was taking a bite of every one to experience each flavor, but doing so at an incredibly fast rate. Declarations of joy and surprise left her lips, “Ahh!”, “Nice,” and “Hehe, look at these!”

She held up a pair of long dangly gold earrings with maroon faux gems, circa 2004. “Ohh these are pretty!” She tossed them aside. “Oh look, the Eiffel Tower!”

“I forgot I had those!” I smiled picking up the other Eiffel Tower earring and holding it next to the one in Hadley’s hand. They reminded me of my always obsession with Paris and anything French.

“These are pretty. Can I put them on you?” Her eyes lit up like the Paris sky.

“Sure, just be careful.” I leaned in and felt her little fingers tickle my ear lobe, gently searching for the “cut,” as she called it. She had found a chocolate to savor just a little longer.

“Am I hurting you?” She carefully stuck the looped backing in and pulled it down.

“No, you’re doing great.” I smiled fully content and relaxed.

Hadley had really wanted to go through my jewelry ever since she had received a create-your-jewelry box kit for her 5th birthday. We put it together and she filled it with a few of her bracelets, a horse necklace, and Sofia amulet.  She’s been “into jewelry,” every since. Particularly, my jewelry it seems. She’ll ask questions about what I’m wearing, which honestly right now rotates between my two favorite pairs of stud earrings and my Tiffany’s heart necklace.

We discovered that one of Hadley’s favorite pieces of jewelry of mine was a shell necklace. One smooth, pearly, round shell hung from a string of tiny green beads. This was one that I got my first time in Maui with my family.

Trips to Edmonds beach are among her favorite summertime activities and our annual Whidbey Island trip every spring with our family is her happy place. We’ve collected numerous rocks, sea glass, and shells from the beaches there and filled a mason jar that we keep in the kids’ bathroom to remind us of our beach trips. This beachy shell necklace must remind her of that. I could almost feel the warm Maui sun on my sand-covered toes as I held the necklace in my hand. Maybe she pictured walking along the rocky shore with Nana and Grandma, clutching fist fulls of precious beach treasures.

Recently, I’ve jumped in on the “Tidying Up,” phenomenon. I’ve scoured parts of the house and asked myself the all-important question, “Does this bring me joy?” Some things have yet to be Marie Kondo’d in my house and my jewelry is one of those things.

We had completed the first step by dumping it all out on the bed. Would this be the day I’d tackle my jewelry? Would I hold each piece in my palm, ask if it brought my joy, thank it, and part ways or put it back in my shoebox?

Before having kids, I used to accessorize regularly with long necklaces or dangly earrings. I’d get compliments on my outfits and jewelry. Whether going out with friends or heading off to work, I had the time to carefully select the jewelry I wanted to wear. Never anything expensive, but carefully planned and put together.

As I’ve gotten older and become a mom, I’ve found that simple and important pieces of jewelry are what have remained steadfast. The long and dangly bling of my past, I could let go of. Or at least, stuff away in a shoebox.  

My husband gave me the heart locket a few months after we started dating for my 18th birthday. I wore that locket most days. I worked as a server at a local cafe my first year of college.

Before each shift, I’d tuck that necklace under my stiff, white collared t-shirt and secure the green apron around my waist. My nights at the cafe were spent counting down the hours until I was off and got to go see him. I’d reach up to feel the locket between my fingers bringing me a bit closer to him as I waited for that last table to leave.

One night, I reached up to feel the necklace, only to find it wasn’t there. My heart raced and panic swelled up in my chest as I breathed slowly trying to stifle the tears. I had lost it!

I searched the cafe floors and checked to see if the locket had slipped down my shirt. In the moonlight, I  peeked under and in between the seats in my car. A fellow server took a flashlight out to the parking lot to help me look. I can’t remember where the necklace actually was, but I know it was found, because I still have it.

This heart locket necklace will always have significance for me because it came from the man who has loved me unwaveringly for half of my life. It’s also a reminder for me that each piece of jewelry has a story and a connection to my past, like a small fragment of shell or smoothed-out sea glass in a jar full of collected memories acquired over the course of a lifetime.

I didn’t end up getting rid of any of my jewelry that day. I scooped up the dangly earrings and placed them back in their little box. I closed my grandmother’s jewelry box and gathered all my Hawaii necklaces and laid them back in the shoebox.

That wasn’t the day to sort through my jewelry and decide if it brought me joy. Because, honestly, all of it did. It was a box of my past, present, and as I sat there with my daughter, future. Parts of me I might never be able to explain to her, and the parts she may never know of me, and yet all the parts that make up the person that I am today.

 

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Remember This.”

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