Yesterday I was surprised with another family’s button box! This was an unexpected and truly wonderful gift. My friend Helen, having no one in her family who wanted her button collection, offered me a simple white cardboard shoe box on Sunday morning just after church. I am both honored and excited to receive it!
We opened the box together so that she could tell me about one or two of the items inside. Right away I could see that these were treasures. Helen had lovingly sorted them by color and some by style or use into small plastic bags. They were clearly labeled as well. Many of them were stitched together in sets with single strands of teal thread. There are enormous coat buttons and tiny shirt buttons. And all sorts of in between sizes. Also included are buckles of all sizes and a few other adornments that are not, strictly speaking, buttons, but are wondrous all the same. She pointed out some of the fancier ones and was somewhat apologetic over the modest white shirt buttons. As we talked, she was searching through the box for the buckles. She pulled out two of them to show me specifically.
These two special buckles had been bagged, not with the rest of the assortment of small buckles, but instead, were in the bag with the fanciest of the buttons. The label on these reads ‘very nice buckles’. At first glance these two buckles seem somewhat plain and a little rough and uneven, with some dents and scratches in the bargain. Upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that they were hand crafted, many years ago. They have no signature or maker’s marks on them but it’s obvious they were carefully designed and constructed. Both buckles are pewter, created for a 1 and ½ inch belt width. Designed by and for a lady to wear, and would have been quite stylish in their time. In any time really. Helen tells me that they were hand-crafted by her own mother around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I fully intend to find a way to wear them, and proudly.
I will also, no doubt, find some way of adding some of the other, equally beautiful and dramatic buttons to clothing of my own design. Whether I wear them or not, though, I will spend hours in the months and years to come imagining stories that must go along with the many treasures that are tucked away in this simple shoebox.
Helen had never read my story about my own grandmother’s button box and so she could not have known how much I will truly love and cherish her gift. I am humbled and honored that she would think of me. And I am delighted by the serendipity!