Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Preacher’s Corner
Grandmother’s button box held many ‘treasures’
Did your grandmother have a button box? I recently came across my grandmother’s when I discovered too late to take a shirt by the laundry that it needed to have a collar button sewed on.
My grandmother sewed beautifully. Mama did some sewing, but Grandmother really knew how. She could make all sorts of things from bolts of cloth.
All I can hope to do is sew on a button, and that requires a lot of effort and does not come out looking too neat. Now that my eyes are middle-aged, threading a needle is difficult. It causes me to say some rather “un-preacherly” things!
Grandmother’s button box is in the bottom drawer of her sewing chest. All her life, she used that chest for a bedside table. She kept the Bible on it from which she used to read stories to me, and would sit in a large wicker rocker sewing, crocheting, and knitting by the light of the afternoon sun.
The contents of that button box formed one of my earliest sets of playthings. Being in the bottom drawer, I am sure that as a toddler I “discovered” it early. Nothing gives a baby such pleasure as to spill out something with many pieces and scatter everything across the floor. Of course, Grandmother was happy to let me do as I pleased in this regard. So those buttons became in my imagination toy soldiers and railroad trains and levees along the river and all sorts of other things.
Now, I am sure that allowing small children to play with a box of tiny buttons would cause gasps from enlightened mothers of today. Yes, I could have swallowed one and the results could have been catastrophic. But I never did.
As for the buttons, they were a collection from the era when people did not throw even the smallest or cheapest of things away. When a coat or dress or shirt became too threadbare for further wear, it would be cut into dust cloths or some such use and the buttons taken off to use on other garments as needed.
That is why I was sure I would find a button to match my shirt last week, and indeed I did!
Some of grandmother’s buttons probably went back to her grandmother. Someone with a good imagination could make up a lot of stories about what those buttons would say, “if buttons could talk.”
Children have safer toys now (or at least if they are not made in China). And I am happy for the progress we have made in regulating small things. But sometimes I wonder if we major on the minors.
This morning I heard that the Congress is considering a measure to allow the re-direction of money appropriated to build homes for people washed away by Katrina to erect a new casino and re-work the port at Gulfport. This even though there are still 8,000 people living in FEMA trailers down there.
I am glad children have safer toys — although I doubt they encourage as much imagination as playing with my grandmother’s button box did for me.
But in focusing on all the small stuff, are we forgetting what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law?”
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