CareBear Cliff has given me a diamond ring for Easter, baked in a blueberry muffin with a plastic bunny-rabbit stick on top. It is my first piece of jewelry ever and I’m 25 years old. Imagining everyone is as thrilled as I am, I flash the sparkling stone in front of Grandma Longenecker.
“Look, Grandma!” I say ecstatically, offering my hand for her to inspect the glittering diamond solitaire in a silver setting.
She turns ashen-faced, at the sight. At the moment, she says nothing but her eyes communicate betrayal. I’ve betrayed my heritage and my family values, I quickly gather.
Though she knows I am straddling the fence between Mennonite life and something else, she still sees me as a plain girl, who once adhered to the strict teachings of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference rules of 1968, especially Article III, Section 6 on Attire: “ . . . brethren and sisters shall not use not wear jewelry or other ornaments.”
My joy bubble has popped and I slowly withdraw my hand, which has figuratively been slapped.
Imagine my surprise and bafflement when years later, she sits my sisters and I down around the kitchen table and produces 3 ring boxes. “Now where did they come from?” I wonder. Apparently hiding in her dresser drawer for decades.
Before her marriage to Grandpa Henry, she was fancy, and wore all the regalia of a fashionable Victorian woman: hats with plumes, dresses with bustle and beadwork—and even a bracelet and RINGS! Now Janice gets Grandma’s opal engagement ring, Jean gets her larger amethyst ring, and I am bequeathed a lovely one with a smaller amethyst and four seed pearls. Well, I declare.
Nowadays casual Fridays last all week long, Presidential candidates have ditched the white shirt and tie to look cool, and ladies don’t wear gloves anymore except for warmth in the wintertime. No longer a fashion statement, women’s gloves appear as curiosities in the dressy section of antique shops or museums.
In my collection of old gloves, the plain and fancy mingle. Guess which pair was worn by one of my attendants at our wedding. The choices are at 10:00 o’clock, 12:00 o’clock, and 3:00 o’clock.
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