My sister, “Pansy” as we’ve always called her, and I played buttons on the floor of my sewing room the other day. So tired of the cold, and the snow, and the gray outside…we needed a little color in our lives! We sorted jars and boxes full of the the good the bad and the ugly! The very good Czechoslovakian glass and American bakelite, the very bad rusted or broken shank, and the very ugly plastic grey coat buttons that to me resemble brain matter!
Button sorting is something we have done many times as children…obligatory in our family with five sisters! Our Grandmother was a serious button collector and seamstress. She crafted several button bracelets with some of her most cherished. Once in a while she’d bring us a shoebox full of buttons and beads and broken clip-on earrings, and Pansy and I were occupied for hours panning for gold! My mother kept Grandma’s bracelets in a velvet lined case; and collected her own (usually thrifted) tins and jars full as well. She would often play “Button, button, who’s got the button?” with the girls and the boys at times where we kids were housebound due to measles, mumps, or just having a good old group malaise. With that many children she always had plenty of buttons in the mending basket! Until her death from Parkinson’s Disease in 2007 we grown women would go visit mom on a snow day or a blue day, and she would set out a bountiful biscuit tin on the kitchen table for us to sort, and sift, and sort again. Hands shaking or not she was going to go through her beloved buttons! What fun we had, and what good advice we got from our faith-filled mother. The case of button bracelets now hangs on a wall in my home, just where the family wants it.
Every now and then, but less often than before, I find a little bag or canning jar full of old buttons at a church sale or a thrift shop. A sad pang gives way to a happy smile…Look Mom, who’s got the button!