This post has absolutely nothing to do with law, police, courts or décolletage. If that’s your only interest here, run away. Fly like the wind. There’s nothing here for you.
The wedding of the son of a dear friend of Dr. SJ and I is coming, and so I set out to find our wedding gift for him. We’ve known him since birth, and he’s a wonderful young man. His parents are great people, with whom we’ve shared good times and bad. When it came time to pick out a gift, there was no question what to get. Antique sterling silver candlesticks.
Huh? Is the groom into sterling candlesticks?
Probably not. Few young men are “into” sterling candlesticks, especially these days when disposable plastic things with chips inside are far more alluring. So why? Why not buy the happy couple something they will want rather than something really weird, like sterling candlesticks? Excellent question. Let me explain.
First, I note in passing that we got them a Cuisinart for the wedding shower. We’re not totally impractical. But when it comes to the wedding, we give a gift with purpose and a message.
Antique Sterling Silver Candlesticks.
That they’re antique, by which I mean over 100 years old, is to remind them that there was a world long before they were born, and there will be one long after they die. These are items that were held in the hands of people who have long since left this planet, and have endured. As they go through life, through marriage, they need to keep perspective on where they fit into the universe. It keeps us humble and appreciative of our brief time on earth so that we make good use of it.
That they’re sterling silver serves to provide a two-fold message. First, they were crafted by an artist, a silversmith who struggled to master his craft so that he could create something of enduring beauty and refinement. Every time you look at a piece of antique sterling silver, consider the skill a person must have had to create such a thing.
Consider the days, the years, spent honing those skills. Mastery couldn’t be concealed behind rhetoric or excuses; there was an object that either proved the silversmith’s abilities or not. There were no lies then, and certainly no lies 100 years later when someone touched the sterling, felt its weight and balance, and saw the delicate line that would differentiate between a vulgar blob of metal and an exquisite object.
The second message is that sterling silver tarnishes. It requires care, constant care, to maintain its beauty. Fine things require that care to remain fine things. Yes, that means work. There will be times they don’t feel like polishing the silver and it’s just another chore they don’t feel like doing. Much of success in life is doing another chore you don’t feel like doing. That’s a choice we all have to make, because if we decide not to bother, then it will sit there, tarnished and ugly.
I give candlesticks because they are simultaneously useful and decorative. They are lovely to look at, but then, so is all fine antique silver. But if the electricity goes off, they will provide light. They are just as useful today as they were 100 years ago, given the circumstances.
Yet, there is more meaning to the gift than just this. The sterling silver candlesticks had intrinsic value when they were made, and 100 years later still have intrinsic value. Unlike the latest shiny iToy, which will be adored until the next coolest thing comes out, these candlesticks will hold their value, perhaps even appreciate in value, 25 years from now. They will be just as beautiful and valuable when they are handed down to their children someday, to start the cycle anew.
There is a fairly good chance that when the loving couple opens their gift, holds it up to the light to try to figure out how to plug it in, and glances at each other in puzzlement, they will put it aside for a box to be marked “whatever.” We recognize this risk. Life is full of risks. But that too is part of the message. We can only try, and wish them our deepest hopes for happiness.