Saturday, March 3, 2012

As Cute As a Button

I remember when I was little, maybe 4 or 5, my mom was very sick and had to go out of town quite a bit for doctor's visits. While she and my dad were gone for sometimes 2 or 3 days at a time, I would stay with my grandma in her little apartment that was above a dry cleaners.

Grandma never had many toys for us grandkids to play with when we visited. I would bring a doll with me, and maybe my coloring books and crayons, but mostly she would occupy me with things that she had around her apartment.

She would let me stand on the step stool by her big sink while she was busy cooking, and wash the few little plastic play dishes that she kept in her cupboard. I remember her letting me use her very fancy dish towel to carefully wipe each little plastic plate and cup dry. 

When it was time for ironing clothes, she would set up her ironing board in her dining room. She had a teal plastic bottle with a metal sprinkler top that she would fill with water, and she would lay each item on the board, then let me sprinkle the clothes, and roll up each thing and stack it in a basket. When everything was sprinkled and rolled, she would then start unrolling each thing and take such care ironing out each wrinkle.

Whether she was baking bread, or making pasties or some kind of baked good, she always had a little job for me to help with. She helped me to carefully level out a cup of flour, or let me stir something with her big wooden spoon. She let me cover the bowl of bread dough that sat rising on one of her big metal radiators. I remember going over to peek many times under the flour sack dish towel to see how big it was getting.

These simple little household chores were the reason I loved to go to grandmas. I felt so grownup being able to help her with these tasks. She always knew how to make it seem like fun instead of work.

When all the 'busy work' was done, it was time for Grandma to sit and take a nap or watch her 'programs' on tv. It was then that I would dig out my favorite thing to play with.......her sewing basket.

I would haul it over to her dining room table, climb up on a chair an open it up to discover all that it held. Brightly colored spools of thread, zippers, needles of all sizes and a fabric measuring tape were among the treasures it held. But most important of all......were the buttons. 

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Inside that sewing basket were many tiny glass jars and plastic pill bottles filled with all kinds of buttons. Ones that looked like pearls, some with little clear glass stones that looked like diamonds, ones of every color of the rainbow, all different sizes. Silver and gold ones. Some were strung together on white thread.

I would spend what felt like hours looking at those buttons. I would sort them into piles of different colors, I would sort them by size, stack them, count them. I remember some that were shaped like tiny rosebuds.

My grandma used to have a saying...whenever she saw something she liked, she would say, "That's as cute as a button." Those buttons were cute. And they were beautiful. It was as if she were allowing me to play with the most precious of gems.

I often wonder what happened to grandma's sewing basket after she died. I'd like to hope that a family member still has it tucked away somewhere.....still holding those buttons that I loved so much.

Linking to:

Five Days...5 Ways ~ Feature Friday Free For All
Serenity Now ~ Weekend Bloggy Reading
Sew Many Ways ~ Sew Darn Crafty Party-Week 56


  1. Sweetheart, what a nice post! I didn't have grandparents when I was growing up but I've given these kind of memories to my own kids and grandkids. Love the button play! My mom gave me a quart jar of mixed buttons and my kids still remember that treasure! Thanks for the reminder that many good memories are free.

    1. Hi Ann...thanks for stopping by and for the nice compliment. Yes, some of my best memories involve things that were free, or that used our imagination. Kids today just have it so different don't they? Instead of playing outside all day like they used to, now they are in their rooms attached to their phones and Ipods. It's reasons like this that make me with I could have lived in the 50's and 60's...when times weren't necessarily easier, just so much simpler. Hope you are having a wonderful day!

  2. Oh how I loved your story of your Grandma! She sounds a whole lot like my MawMaw. She had sooooo much patience and was just the best person ever! I loved her to death. I used to go to this sewing place here in town all the time. My daughter was about 3-4 years old and they had a small tub of buttons and she dearly loved to run her hands through them and play with them. The store folks would have a fit and had a sign there telling us to keep our kids out of those buttons. I had to tell her no every time we went into that store. She STILL LOVES to run her hands through piles of buttons and she is in her 30's now. lol I keep saying I am going to get her a tub of buttons one day for Christmas so she can run her hands through them as much as she wants. lol

  3. Oh my, your post brought back so many precious memories for me. I have such similar experiences of spending time with my grandmother before she died when I was 5. It amazes me how much I remember of her from such a young age. My mom inherited my grandma's jar of buttons and it was when she was sewing that I would dump out the buttons and go through my ritual of admiring and sorting. Those memories are SO vivid. I think I even sorted and stacked her spools of thread now and then. And that reminds me, my grandmother had a treadle sewing machine that no one seems to know what happened to. :( Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience today. It warmed my heart!


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