Silly Bands and Bracelets

Before there were silly bands.

Bracelets. Jewelry. Girls of all ages and personalities (sporty, girly, princess, diva, tom boy, musical, academic, ballerina, etc.) wear them. Shoe laces and hockey laces, beads of all shapes and sizes, Lance Armstrong inspired bands to promote causes, wrist bands from amusement parks, leather bands with studs, diamonds that sparkle in the sunshine. They are all unique. All special. Just like the girls that wear them around their wrists. With the recent popularity of “Silly Bands,” and my recent time spent with a bunch of mainly MNL girls – elementary, middle and high school, and college age, I was once again reminded of bracelets. Sure, girls wore Silly Bands on their sweaty wrists (it was a sports camp) and traded with friends at camp, but they also made bracelets for one another – gave them to friends and roommates. It got me thinking. Thinking about girls. Thinking about relationships and friendships. Thinking about camp and counselors. Thinking about what it takes to make it work – to make a friendship strong. The answer is in the friendship bracelet. Fragile and colored. Strings of varying lengths and strengths. Each bracelet hand-made with a specific person in mind. The colors, bright and contrasting, yet always complimenting. Supplies of little expense. Though the time spent weaving and braiding, tying and twisting can be laborious and long, it is never without reward. The bracelets may last for years, or be lost after a few hours or days. But they exist. As a sign to the world – a sign that friendships take work and time – work and time that is worth the effort. Seeing the colorful floss spread out on bunk beds and dorm room floors, Scotch taped to girls’ legs while they created various designs (I only know one design…and it’s the most popular — aka – the easiest), I was reminded of friendship bracelets I used to make. Of friendship bracelets I used to wear. They are long gone. Thrown out with the left over hotdish of the night. Tucked back in my years of sleepovers and car pools. The pictures from my younger years prove that I spent hours on end with my friends at camp, youth events, and friends’ houses creating Klutz friendship bracelets and trading them with each other. Every bracelet received was a precious gift – symbolizing more than a BFF heart necklace on a cheap string ever could. They were gifts. Of time. Labor. Love. And friendship. Gifts that cannot be re-gifted or returned. Gifts that are now just memories – reminders of the friends from my past. The friends who knew and still know everything about me. Kind of odd. Don’t ya think? Those friendship bracelets were supposed to last forever. Those friendships were supposed to last forever. But we let them fray to a point beyond repair. We let them slip off our wrists – misplaced and tossed. We let scissors snip them off – cutting all ties to our friends. We let ourselves forget the friendships woven into the strings. Why did we let that happen? What could we have done differently? How many other girls have clipped their bracelets off? Had I known how much I cared about those bracelets, those friends, I wouldn’t have played with scissors. As sad as it may be, it is in the past. I can’t focus on lost bracelets from middle school. Because there are new bracelets to be braided. New friends to create with my one and only friendship bracelet pattern… Right now, well, my most current friendship bracelet was made for me at camp by a camper. I picked my colors: bold and boyish. She tugged and twisted the colors into a pattern. Minutes after choosing my colors she revealed the bracelet. At first it looked like it would fit on Barbie’s wrist or waist. There really is no difference between the two. I wrapped it around my wrist and tied the loose ends. It fits perfectly. That was August 6. It’s now August 18. Short time, yes, but that bracelet remains on my wrist. Stretched and faded. Washed and fraying. Comfortable and colorful. I wear it with pride. I wear it with remembrance. I wear it because it was created to symbolize friendship – with all its knots and kinks, frays and fades, patterns and prints. This post on bracelets, friendships – silly and not – is more than just about the dyed yarns and “how-to” books. The deeper issue for me is the loss. The loss of bracelets and friendships. So, my hope is that this new Silly Band kick everyone is so obsessed with does not replace the most irreplaceable bracelets of friendship and loyalty, of childhood and adolescence. I hope girls don’t forget what it takes to make a friendship work – to set it up, to lay a foundation, to build it from nothing, to weave and re-weave, to add life and meaning. I hope girls don’t forget to take time from all their silly banding and remember who their friends are – remember who they want to tie to their hearts to – in whatever pattern they choose – in whatever colors they like.

So now I ask. You answer.

1. What is your experience with Friendship Bracelets?

2. Do you still remember a specific bracelet?

3. Seriously, why do we forget the meaning of the bracelets? The friendship behind them?

4. Is it wrong to place such value on a piece of string tied around your wrist? Should we use something else to “symbolize” friendships?

5. When was the last time you made a friendship bracelet? Received a friendship bracelet?

6. Am I in my own life boat, or do other people only know how to make one pattern? The three-colored one — you cross one color over the other two and pull…you keep going and it starts twisting that color and then you switch…

Did that make sense?! if it did then good…

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