My grandmother kept a jar full of buttons and so do I. I know that most of the buttons will never find their way back onto a garment, but I find it impossible to just throw them away.
Growing up during the depression, my Grams was never one to waste anything that had a purpose. Before a garment moved on to it’s next life as a patchwork quilt or cleaning rag it was carefully stripped of buttons and trim that could be of use somewhere else. All of the recovered buttons were placed in a canning jar that she kept on the shelf of the linen closet, ready to be put back on at a moment’s notice.
As a little girl I found this jar of buttons saved from the garbage bin to be fascinating. There was always such an assortment of shape, sizes and colours that I could spend hours categorizing them only to discover that on my next visit they had been returned to their home in the jar.
When I got a bit older the buttons became lessons in sewing. As I tried my hand at the craft I would lose hours at the kitchen table carefully sewing patterns of buttons onto tea towels. As always upon my return my buttons had found their home in the jar and the tea towels had lost their splendor and returned to being merely functional towels folded neatly in the kitchen drawer.
It always seemed like magic that everything always returned to its correct place and original state. Looking back I suppose that when we left my Grams must have picked out my sloppy little girl stitches so that I had a clean slate to begin again the next time I came.
It was only a few days ago that I realized where the desire to keep these potentially useful bits of plastic, fabric and glass came from. I suppose that you never realize the legacy you are leaving behind while it is happening.