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My mother-in-law and I don't always see eye to eye. She tends to share her opinions freely.  I have a ridiculously hard time keeping my mouth shut if I don't agree.  Add to this interesting dynamic that all communication is in a foreign language and tact and diplomacy are a sought after but not often reached goal.  That said, she's got a heart of gold, is fantastic with the kids, and has only once accused me of making her violently ill with my cooking.  In my defense, I whole heartedly insist she had the stomach flu. 

She surprised me recently with a gift that was so sentimental and touching, that I'm willing to completely forgive and forget the accusations of food poisoning.  This lovely women handed me an antique tin filled with her collection of buttons.

I've had my eye on my own Grandmother's button collection for years. It's now in the safe possession of my Aunt Cindy and I hope one day I'll be entrusted with it. It's filled with mother of pearl, cut glass, pressed glass and colored celluloid buttons;  little baubles pretty or special enough to be clipped off of their garments and saved. There are buttons from my great grandmother in the box, old buttons, newer buttons. It's like a living history of my family. I sewed five of my grandmother's little tiny pearl buttons onto a hand knitted cashmere cardigan for my cousin's baby boy. Newer buttons are added, some older buttons are reused. The collection changes, albeit slowly. It's strangely mesmerizing to run fingers through the stash, watch them shimmer and hear them click, to think about the generations that have kept and passed on the button box.  

Recently, I was researching for an article in Piecework about a specific sort of historic button and shared some of the interesting bits of social history of buttons with my mother-in-law.  She disappeared into the attic and came down a little later holding a green tin filled with buttons. Then she gave it to me.  That sort of gift... that says you're not just married to my son.  You're family.  
 


Comments

Anni Howard
06/19/2012 1:52am

How right you are about the social history. My Grandmother's button tin, which I inherited when she died, and I think must have once belonged to someone even older, contained amongst the buttons, a pair of glove stretchers, a small tub of boot buttons and a vintage pin-cushion half-doll. Some of the buttons had been recycled, and were still attached to scraps of fabric, others were on their original cards. I have been able to use a lot of the contents on garments or in artwork, but I still haven't made the half-doll back into a pin-cushion.

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Erica Patberg
06/22/2012 10:17am

How lovely that you also have a family button box and that you treasure it too! The doll pin cushion is so intriguing! It's so nice to come across a kindred spirit that also values these family keepsakes.

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06/22/2012 9:44am

Wow! There are some beautiful buttons!!!

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Hinke
08/28/2012 3:05am

How sweet - love the story, Erica

(and the needlework you gave me in Hoorn!)

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10/24/2012 2:48am

Lovely story!

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10/13/2013 8:33am

Was just looking for a site like this, thanks

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