Bun is wearing the baptismal gown that my godmother made for Francie. It has become a precious family heirloom since all of the children have worn it, and I have embroidered their initials and baptismal dates on the hem. (Gah! Okay, you caught me - I only have Francie's and Fiver's initials so far, but Sally and Bun will be added, so help me God. And He will need to, that's for sure!)
The pin on the front of the gown is called a Luckenbooth Brooch, and it's very special to me. The gift of a Luckenbooth Brooch is a Scottish tradition, and mine was given to me by my mother-in-law. It is traditionally given when a man and woman are engaged, and then pinned to their first baby's shawl or gown to thwart any fairies who wanted to steal the baby. (I don't know about any protection for subsequent children. Maybe they had to duke it out with the fairies.)
My mother-in-law is a firm believer in tradition and she knows all the old superstitions, as well.
- It is from her that I learned never to put new shoes on the table (aren't they way cleaner than old shoes on the table?)
- the tradition of First Footing (we make Francie do this one)
- when eating a boiled egg, you must break the bottom of the shell when you are finished so fairies don't steal your luck (seriously, do the fairies have nothing better to do than hang around and commit larceny and kidnapping?)
- never cross knives, it means you'll end up fighting with someone (if I'm crossing knives, you better believe there's trouble brewing)
- in a similar vein, if you give someone a gift of knives or cutlery, you need to give them a coin or there will always be discord between you (a darn fine way to make a buck at Christmas)
- if you hit your elbow against something, bump the other elbow and you'll get a surprise (surprise! now you have two throbbing elbows!)
- if a black cat crosses your path that is good luck (because sometimes the Scottish just like to be contrary. Believe me, I have a whole lovable houseful of them)
When I agreed to marry Rob, and she gave me my Luckenbooth, my mother-in-law explained its significance and said that she hoped I would someday be able to pin it to my baby's gown. It is inscribed with the words: "Of earthly joys, thou art my choice."
The brooch was my mother-in-law's way of welcoming me into her family's traditions, and it has been pinned to the gown since the day Francie wore it. Every time I see it, I am reminded of my family's many blessings. Of earthly joys, they are my choice indeed.