I’ve walked passed this button jar for years. It sat in my grandma’s sewing room, which also happened to be the breezeway from the driveway and garage. It sat on various tables as needed. I don’t know anything about the buttons. I’ve never opened the button jar, only picking it up occasionally to peer at it in nostalgic wonderment. I know the jar is very old and probably wort
h quite a few dollars as my grandma told me when she gave it to me that “the jar is worth more than the buttons, but you can have them if you want them.”
I wanted the buttons.
There is something about a jar of buttons that speaks to me. It begs me to wonder of the stories behind them. They beg me to ask “how many times do you think I was buttoned?” or “do you think I was a work shirt or a Sunday shirt?” Strange, I know, but everything to me has a story. Everything, and everyone.
We try to keep our stories in jars. Stuffing them in day after day and then shutting the lid tight. But people can see our stories. I can look at anyone, and I do because I’m a people w
atcher, and I know that they have a story…and wonder at the one that is on their face right at that moment.
Some of the buttons in the jar have been there for years. Those buttons are warn, cracked, faded, and some are even misshapen because they have been under the weight of all the other buttons for so long, and what they were made from couldn’t withstand the pressure, so they become bent, changed. Much like our stories when we pack them in our “jar”, they become misshapen, cracked, warn and the truth of them certainly fades. We can’t remember how the story really goes, or maybe even why we hung onto it.
I’m sure that my 97-year-old grandma can’t remember the story behind even a few of the buttons, but she has hung onto them for decades, why?
I wonder at the stories that we hang onto, and why? Is it for reference? Validation? Ammunition against others or ourselves? How do we determine the value in a story or what makes it worthy to be put in a jar and kept?