Button, button, who’s got the…

As I was getting ready the other morning, I noticed a loose thread on the button of my blouse. I pulled it, and just as I realized the button was unraveling completely, it fell off into the sink and down the drain. Bye-bye button.


As it was the critical “bra-hiding” button, I had to do something and didn’t feel like changing. Time to dive into that stash of button packets I’d been saving. You know, the kind that come attached to new clothes? After some thought, I remembered where I had squirreled them away: in the small chest of drawers in the vestibule, along with more candles than I’ll likely burn in my lifetime, and a dozen or so extension cords and extra-plug thingees (really useful at Christmas!).

All I needed was a simple white button with 4 holes. What I found was a tinful of memories.

Oh, that beautiful gray sweater. A gift from my best friend from high school. I wore it to death. Loved it; loved her. (Thanks, Annie.)

And that green silk two-piece dress — so pretty. Gave up trying to fit into it and gave it away some years ago.

That navy blue button-down sweater with the crest and the fancy buttons — I wore that a lot! Very nautical.

Of course, for every button or bit of thread I could identify, there were a half-dozen I couldn’t. And after all that, I still didn’t find a perfect match for my simple white button. So an ivory one (from something 100% silk according to the tag) had to do. I’m sure no one will ever notice.

But if I ever find myself needing crochet hooks or the hard contact lenses that were my high school graduation gift that I only wore briefly Freshman year before getting a weird eye infection and giving them up — I now know where to go.

Clearly, I have a thing for buttons. I remember playing endlessly with the buttons my mother collected in a few jelly jars. She told me “they” (she, my grandmother, my aunts) used to cut the buttons off clothes before discarding them. Since I can’t imagine them ever throwing anything away, the clothes must have been threadbare and beyond salvage. It was these same jars of buttons I berated my brother for throwing away a couple years ago when we were cleaning out the “junk room” at my mother’s…the same jars I dug through piles of trash waiting on her porch for garbage day to rescue. Sure, I was afraid she might miss them — we never know what odd thing she’ll pick to fixate on — but part of me also wanted to “inherit” them someday. (Those same jars are still sitting in yet another junk room at my mother’s…it’s a sickness, no, this hoarding gene I fight and win, most times.)

I also snagged a large Necco Wafer jar of buttons my mother-in-law had slated for donation when she and my father-in-law downsized and moved a few years ago. That (no doubt highly collectible) jar is living between the armoire and radiator in the living room.

I did, however, sort through them and put aside some favorites for some still-undetermined future project — those buttons are living in the armoire. 🙂

Seriously, though, clever people do such cute and creative things with buttons — embellishing sweet little pillows…dressing up lampshades…decorating picture frames. Someday I’ll do that too. Really.

In the meantime, if you feel like passing along any buttons you are physically able to live without, I’ll have a jar ready and waiting. And if you should need a button, you know who’s got it.

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food.
~ Austin O’Malley