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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The gold bangles that bind

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Columnist

Ever since my mother presented me with a Hawaiian bracelet for my 16th birthday, I've been waiting for the day when it would be my turn to do the same for my daughter.

But when her "Sweet 16" rolled around, the family budget was in a bad way and there was no wiggle room to spend upward of $1,000 on a good bracelet. So I set my sights on her high school graduation in 2006.

In the months leading up to her June commencement, I told her my plans to carry on the mother-daughter bracelet tradition, and we window-shopped for designs and sizes. I explained to her the special meaning the bracelets held for Island women, and that when she went to the Mainland for college, how much more important it would become as a link to her home. And that, like a wedding band, once she put it on, it was never to come off (not just for sentimental reasons but for anti-theft security).

Finally the day came to order "our" bracelet. As we approached the shop she blurted, "Can I get something else? Only old ladies wear Hawaiian bracelets these days," she said.

The "old ladies" remark didn't hurt as much as the fact that she didn't share my romanticized vision of what the highly personalized bracelets represent a never-ending bond between mother and daughter.

Then I realized she had a point. None of her friends wear Hawaiian bracelets and the bangles have become rather common.

So off to Tiffany & Co. we went to purchase a necklace (she had already picked it out). It's a stylish contemporary design in sterling silver, wholly appropriate for a young woman of her age and taste. It was about a quarter of the cost of a Hawaiian bracelet, so that helped soothe some of the hurt.

As long as she remembers it was a graduation gift from her mother, it's all good.

Many young females aren't responsible enough to appreciate fine jewelry anyway. I long ago lost the diamond stud earrings my parents gave me when I graduated from college, and I haven't worn my late mother's gorgeous double strand of Japanese pearls in years.

And I'm ashamed to confess that due to my own negligence, a thief stole my cherished Hawaiian bracelet more than 20 years ago. I grieved for that bracelet for years. It was simply irreplaceable. It wasn't until 2000 that I could bring myself to buy an identical bracelet to commemorate a series of personal milestones. But it's not the same.

There's time enough for my daughter to come around, with college, wedding and babies still ahead. In the meantime, I think I'll wear those pearls to her graduation.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.