Consider this: A major catastrophe has almost completely devastated the infrastructure of your country. The emergency government has decided that the surviving citizens will be best served if they are evacuated to other countries willing to take refugees. You and your immediate family are among the survivors of this catastrophic event. However, you have absolutely no input into the final destination or in any other evacuation details. You are told that your host country’s culture is completely different from your own, and that you might have to stay there permanently. You are further told that, in addition to one change of clothes, you can only take 3 small items with you. You decide to take three items that you hold dear and that represent your family culture.
My Three Items
- My Claddagh Ring – In my family lineage, the Claddagh ring (of Irish culture) is a deep part of our family history. The man who is said to have invented to Claddagh, Richard Joyce, is a member of my family. He was captured in the 1700s and enslaved, then sold and eventually became the property of a silversmith who taught him the craft. As he learned, he crafted the Claddagh (his representation of love, loyalty and friendship) for his long lost sweetheart. After many years, he was released and returned home, gave his sweetheart the ring he made and married her. Since then the Claddagh grew in popularity all over the British Isles and beyond. It is worn to convey a person’s intention and relationship status (which direction and hand you wear the ring on represents different status’). This part of my family’s history is both significant and meaningful and has always been an important symbol for me and my family – promoting some very important values that remind me always to share love, be loyal and value friendship.
- A small statues of the Virgin Mary – I have a very small statue of the Virgin Mary that has been with me since I was born. Prior to that, it was my mothers. I have many memories of this statue sitting next to my bed throughout my life and also many memories of her both breaking and becoming lost. Every time she fell, broke and was shattered my grandfather took to mending her and gluing her back together for me. There were numerous times that I remember losing or misplacing her, which was always odd to me. I never moved her, played with her or would have a reason to. She would be missing sometimes for days, sometimes for months, and once for over a year…but I always find her, and she always makes her way back to my bedside table (cracks and all). This small, broken, dirty statue was meaningful to my mother, but more importantly my grandfather – who felt as though he had a special connection with Mary. I spent much of my childhood with him, being raised by him and living in his house with my parents when I was young, so to say he was a large part of my life is an understatement. When he passed away a few years ago, I found comfort and memories in my small broken statue and value it more than ever now that he is gone.
- A small package of art supplies – Not everyone in my family is creative and talented as it relates to the arts, but they have always promoted it’s enjoyment and my participation in it. I have many hobbies that my family members have helped me or inspired me to take up including calligraphy, lettering, watercolors and painting. I have a small package that holds some of my favorite materials, brushes, inks and supplies that I can take anywhere. If i were to leave and not know if there were art supplies or creative outlets available, I would lose large part of who I am and what my family has fostered in me. I consider doing these forms of art therapeutic, comforting and connects me to the people I care about by being able to put time, work and love into a piece of art that I give to them.
Now consider if, upon arrival, you were told that you could only keep one personal item and have to give up the other two items you brought with you…
- I would almost instinctively choose the statue. I would miss the opportunity for expression through art, and my connection to the family Claddagh can be carried on in story and memory, however losing a piece of my own personal history (especially one that connects me not only to my faith, but also to a person who was very important to me that is no longer here) makes it far more valuable to me than the rest.