When the matriarch of the Bull family passed away in the 1990s, my cousins came upon some great discoveries. One was a chest-of-drawers with the top drawer filled with quarters, the second drawer filled with dimes, the third drawer with nickels, and the bottom drawer with buttons. I have no idea what happened to the top three drawers, but my Virginia cousins sent the buttons to me.
Teaching weekday preschool at my local church, buttons were a hot commodity and a great addition to my classroom. My cousins also sent to me a box of Sunday School pictures of Jesus that I treasure and hung on the walls in my classroom.
After many years in the weekday preschool classroom, I had to step out of teaching every day because of some medical issues with my vocal chords. I gave away most of my classroom supplies to help some new teachers and kept a few things for workshop visuals. But I was in a quandary of what to do with the buttons since I did not want to pack them away in the basement. I really wanted a way to enjoy them.
So, discovering some wire among my craft supplies, I started to string them and made 18-24 inch strings of these beautiful buttons. A lot of them. And we hang them on our Christmas tree every year.
My Grandma Bull married late, had 5 children, and raised them all on a dairy farm, hence my LOVE for cheese. She wasted nothing. Before she would discard a shirt, blouse, or other piece of clothing, she’d snip the button off just in case she needed it. Over the course of all those years, she snipped buttons from her husband’s Merchant Marine uniforms, church dresses from two little girls who chased their precocious older brothers, and work shirts of her three sons to make future repairs.
I really have no idea who wore what, when, how, or where. But each year, as we hang this precious garland, I think of my Aunt Weegie, Uncle John, Aunt Mary Anna, Uncle Eddie, and my Daddy. I recall the stories they told about each other around the tables after meals. I remember the loud voices (we do loud extremely well), the competitions, and the laughter (if we talk loud, imagine the decibel level of the laughter). And I praise God for time, words, and the stories that have shaped my perspective, given me a history, and prepared me for connection.
In Playing for Keeps: What You Do This Week Matters, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivey wrote, “Stories matter…they provide kids with the relational, cultural, and spiritual context to shape their perspectives about God, Faith, Values, and Life…Stories are just another one of God’s brilliant ideas to connect us to what really matters.”
Each Christmas, Grandma Bull’s buttons remind me annually to be sure I share family stories with my kids…the ones I gave birth to and the ones I serve.
“Sing to Him; sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works!” 1 Chronicles 16:9
This was originally posted in December 2013. Seemed timely to share today, Christmas Day, 2018. Merry Christmas to you and yours.