My fingers slowly etched the black velvet lining of my grandmother’s jewelry box. Getting dressed for the day was more of an event rather than a duty for my grandmother; every strand of hair flawlessly sprayed into place, lips perfectly tinted like the color of an azalea petal, and the air was filled with a cloud of Estée Lauder perfume. She was not ready until she graced her jewelry box and pulled out a strand of pearls. Each pearl perfectly round, milky, and luminous. I watched as she clasped the two gold ends together with ease and gracefully placed her fingers on the pearls as she looked at herself in the mirror, knowing she was now prepared for whatever the day held. As a young girl (to be honest, quite the tomboy at that age with grass-stained denim shorts and skinned knees), I dreamt of the day I would wear my own strand of pearls.
As I grew up, I realized pearls are a lovely depiction of the South. A pearl begins its life with an irritation, a piece of grit that has made its way inside the oyster. Over the course of many years, that irritation transforms into a seamless, radiant pearl. Imperfect oyster shells are the ideal environment for pearls to form, and without pain or frustration, pearls would not exist. And those who are searching for pearls are the only ones who find them.
Just as devoted Catholic women outline rosary beads with religious reverence, we can trace every surface of every pearl on a strand, each one symbolizing an event, something we have overcome. Instead of seeing our pain as something to hide, the years of healing have gently worn down and polished the rough edges of our past, and we wear them around our neck as an encouragement of strength.
Now, I have a strand of my own as I treasure and carry on the tradition, the reminder that our everyday irritations can one day turn into something more beautiful than we could ever image. They retell of the great women who stood before us, striving for goals that they may or may not have met, but one thing I am sure of, they donned their pearls no matter the cost, no matter the prize. They are a symbol of the South, something we earn with time and proudly wear. Many people see them as old-fashioned, but I see them as timeless, as timeless as the women who wear them. As we daily clasp our strands around our necks and close to our hearts, it’s a daily ritual, a promise that we are treasures among the shores. Valued and adored.
13 replies on “CONSIDER the PEARL”
Oh my! You have such a gift of insight and profoundness in your thoughts and words. This post speaks volumes into my life, and challenges me to embrace the rough times…past, present and future. For surely there is a pearl of beauty for the waiting!
Oh my! Beautiful Post. I love my South. <3
Aww I’m so glad you loved it! I loved writing this post. I love honoring our culture as a whole and Southern women definitely deserve a sweet encouraging word!
Fantastically written. I remember growing up and disliking the “old phogey” strands of pearls, thinking I would never wear such. In college, the sorority I chose had the pearl for its jewel, and I could’ve cursed the luck.
Now, I wear my strand happily, seeing it much as you do – a symbol of my heritage and my home, and, after today, a symbol of my growth and my past.
Awww! I remember watching my grandmother painting her nails red, wearing pearls and always looking quite ladylike. It’s as if so many generations tried as hard as they could to get away from that image, but I was always captivated by it. So happy you enjoyed the essay! From one Southern pearl to another!
Beautiful! I agree, my strand of pearls is something I hold so dear for so much more.
So happy you enjoyed the story! I love that we have little treasures that are priceless to us because of the memories and emotions that are attached to them!
The purity of the pearls and the beauty of them is reflected in your words. It brings about the feeling of love, warmth and belongingness.
Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so happy you enjoyed this post!
Amber you have such a lovely writing voice! I don’t know you in person, but from how you described you Grandmother and her strand of pearls, I feel as if you were beside me telling me about your dear Granny.
So glad to have chanced upon your blog when I googled “food blogging full time” – I’ve been trying to steer in that direction – any tips/thoughts to share about that?
Thank you so much for the kind words! Being able to feel like I’m having a conversation with you through my writing is one of the best compliments!
When it comes to blogging, the best advice I can give is create consistent, quality content! Just show up and keep writing about what you love and others will notice. Hope that helps!
I too loved watching my mom put on pearls. My mom would buy me one single pearl to be added into every birthday gift, Christmas gift, and Easter basket. When I was 16, she declared there to be enough single pearls to take them to the jeweler and get them sized and strung. In the process, I doubt many of the original pearls remained on the necklace, as I had decided by then that I wanted the pinker tones. But I love my necklace. I love that it taught me that sometimes you have to save up for what matters and that big financial tasks (and other ones too) can be broken into chunks. It also taught me to look ahead and know that someday I would have something as special as those pearls. I miss her so. Thanks for that memory. Terrific.
What a sweet story! Thank you so much for sharing. A pearl every year, what a treasured gift. I love this!
Pearls are the only jewelry I wear, other than my Miraculous Medal. I have always been captivated by pearls and even named one of my daughters Margaret, which means pearl.