At the previous New Year, an acquaintance was delighted to learn of a tradition I’d always practiced but she’d never enjoyed: that of putting money out on the doorstep before midnight, and taking it in after the clock has ticked over, so that one might be bringing money in all year. Bearing in mind her delight in learning of this old ritual, I decided to rerun this post from 2018, about another lovely custom.
The other evening I poured myself a glass of sparkling, barely-alcoholic blush Moscato wine, using one of my lovely pink Depression glass stemware pieces. I held the glass up to the light and admired the bubbles of rosy wine sparkling within the equally-pink glass, and then sat down to sip my treat as I relaxed with a book.
It didn’t quite work out as I had planned.
Having perched myself on the corner of the couch, I set my glass down on the wooden arm and picked up my Kindle. A moment later, reaching for the stemware, I knocked the glass right off the arm of the couch, splattering wine everywhere and smashing the glass into a thousand shards and fragments as it hit the wall.
Whereupon I exclaimed, “Rah-Shar!”
You see, years earlier, my Chosative (Chosen Relative) had told me of a magazine article she’d once read, which explained an especially lovely concept: When some beloved or treasured item breaks, it is essentially taking the hit for a loved one—taking harm upon itself, so that the person or people you care about will not be harmed. Consequently, instead of regretting the loss of something unique or cherished, one should acknowledge the event by exclaiming the word which embodied this concept.
We both loved this idea. Unfortunately, my Chosative hadn’t written down the foreign word and was quite unable to recall it. The two of us spent the next few years searching for the word across the vast reaches of cyberspace, to no avail. We even each separately contacted one of those of public radio shows that explores the delightful concepts of language, but they failed to respond. Perhaps they couldn’t find the word, either.
And then one day, while desultorily once more searching for the word as she waited for a repairman, there it was. Purportedly Algerian, the concept was part of the consciousness of several Eastern countries, but the word itself, the single word embodying the concept, was, the article claimed, Algerian.
The listing was far down under the thread following a question, “What do you say when you break a glass?” There were many answers, ranging from the downright silly to the rude, but a number of Eastern countries seemed to have assimilated this concept that a broken treasure was protective; that to accidentally break something beloved or cherished was actually lucky, for it meant a family member or friend was now safe, the broken object having taken upon itself the harm that would have otherwise befallen them.
Considering this concept, I compared it to what I had once written in this very blog: that we should never refrain from using our beautiful or special things, never save anything “for good”, for our good is right now; that as much as our guests deserve to be served upon our fine china, with our costly glassware or silver—even as they deserve to dry their hands upon those lovely embroidered guest towels, or to enjoy the scent of our expensive perfume–so do we deserve it, also. We are, always, every day, deserving of our own best.
In the same vein, then, we should never hesitate to use our lovely things: our glassware or silver or china, our best perfume, our embroidered towel—even the amazing toy still kept in the box “to make it more valuable someday”, and never played with. For if these precious things do shatter or tear, if they break irreparably, they are serving a much greater purpose than that of merely providing us pleasure: they are protecting those we love.
As I cleaned up the fragments of my once-lovely pink Depression glass, I murmured a thank-you to the wreckage. And as I placed the remains in the trash bin, I said quietly once more, “Rah-Shar!”
If you’re wondering about that term “Chosative”, you’ll find answers in the Archives, in the post “Chosen Relatives”, from December 18, 2017.