Today I wore a pair of earrings made of broken china, blue on white, encased in decorative silver. A craftswoman sold them at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival two years ago, and I requested a pair as my birthday gift. They cost more than I usually spend on a pair of earrings, but they appeal to me in so many ways: for their simple beauty, their tie to the past, and their reuse of something old and broken.
In Social Studies I began a simulated archaeological dig with my students, sifting through layers of substrate in search of artifacts that can teach us about the past. We didn't get to the layer of colonial treasures which contains broken pottery. But we will soon see the blue and white standing out from the sandy substrate. I look forward to the first child announcing, "I see something blue!"
Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday. While she loved china, she would have disapproved of these earrings--but then she counseled me against ever piercing my ears. When I was a young teenager in the 1970's and all of my friends were piercing their ears, my mother told me, "Piercing is for gypsies. If a lady wears earrings, she should clip them onto her ears." She had been dead for 8 years before I decided to pierce my ears. I hope that if she could see how fond I am of my earrings, and how much joy I find in choosing and wearing them, she would be able to look at these objects dangling from my ears with a smile.
When I chose these earrings this morning, I thought of my mom and how she always encouraged me to find and follow my passions. And to do well whatever I set out to do. I guess my birthday gift to her is that I'm following a passion, and trying to do it well. I hope that would matter more than a couple of tiny holes in my earlobes.