Something borrowed. Something blue. Something old and something new. We all recognize these as the things brides traditionally add to their wedding outfit for luck on the day of their nuptials. The original Old English rhyme reads: “Something Olde. Something New. Something Borrowed. Something Blue. A sixpence for your shoe.” (From theknot website.)
Apparently these are “little tokens of love” given to the bride on her wedding day at the eleventh hour to ensure good luck in her new life with her mate. The explanation of each facet of the rhyme is thus: “old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; (and) something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity.” And, “the sixpence in your shoe”? It means “good fortune and prosperity.”
Just off the top of my head I have a few bones to pick with this tradition. I like that “old” represents continuity and its first cousins steadiness, endurance, stability, and connection. Those are good things to have in a marriage, and though endurance sounds a bit unromantic—it is one of those elements that help a marriage, well….endure. Optimism for the future I cannot argue with either—but borrowed happiness? I don’t know about you, but borrowed happiness does not sound all that wonderful to me—if it is borrowed, do you have to give it back?
The other big flaw that stands out for me (see what I did there?) is putting a sixpence in your shoe. Thank goodness this, according to theknot’s definition “remains largely a British tradition.” Imagining a Canadian Looney in my shoe sounds like something akin to having a pebble in your shoe.
The whole premise for this column has been somewhat lost, as I seem to have gone off on a tangent about things old, new, borrowed, and blue without really touching on the original topic I had in mind—which is “something borrowed”. In the context of this column it is a book I borrowed from the library—which makes me understand the phrase “borrowed happiness” a bit more. Although I would love to own every book of my heart’s desire, my heart desires too many books, thus the library fills in the gap beautifully.
I tend to walk out of the library with my arms full. I think of every book as a possibility: to learn something new; to laugh; to cry; and a chance to mark a page that I find awe-inspiring or just plain inspiring. A book I am reading right now is called “Three Many Cooks”. Written by a mom and her two daughters, Pam Anderson (no not that Pam Anderson) Maggy Keet and Sharon Damelio, it is, according to The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond “a stirring, candid, powerful celebration of mothers, daughters and sisters, and of family, food, and faith.” I could not have said it better—and I just love her alliteration (family, food and faith).
The book flap blurb states that the book tells the story of three women who passionately “believe that food nourishes both body and soul”. While the main theme of the book is food, and it does provides the reader with a few favourite recipes, it is really about how food has brought the three together and how they use it to bring their families and friends together. Though the mom is an expert in her field, she admits that sometimes the food prepared gets a “B”, but its power is in bringing people together.
Now, I found this message somewhat of a relief. I am an “okay” cook. Sometimes even a good cook. But I generally take recipes (like yellow traffic lights) as just a suggestion. To learn that professionals do not always score an “A” in their field of expertise lets a lot of us off the hook.
Okay, now here is the whole reason I wrote this column. It is to share a quote that I really like. In a chapter of the book called “Eating Is Believing”, Sharon says: “We just want to eat and remember. Maybe laugh and cry a bit. Talking about love—or truth or faith or beauty—only gets us so far. We need love we can touch, truth we can eat, faith we can drink, beauty we can share.” Sharon believes that “words alone don’t cut it”—you have to show it, feel it, touch it, drink it in, and share it.
My “borrowed” book may be “borrowed happiness”, but having read it, I have made the happiness it had to offer mine. And maybe that is what borrowed happiness is all about. We borrow until we can make it ours.
Can we “borrow” happiness?