The Button Box
Most of shirts, blouses, and coats I buy come with an extra button or two, and I have a growing collection of them. Gathering up the small spare button envelopes from some recent purchases brought to mind my mother's button box. Did your mom have one? When I was growing up this was a staple item in most homes. We took better care of things back in those days, if you lost a button off a garment you sewed on another one, and if you couldn't find one to match you sewed on a whole new set. Buttons were salvaged from clothing that was too worn to wear, so there were always sets of buttons to be found in the button box. My sisters and I loved to sort out all those colorful buttons, arranging them in patterns, and exchanging them as if they were precious coins.
Now days we live in a disposable world... if the button is lost, toss the garment. If an item is broken, replace it rather than seeing if can be repaired. We have become a society of resource wasters, too lazy to make an effort to salvage things that can be saved or repurposed. This sadly often holds true for people and relationships as well.
Recently we were watching a reality show about an extended family that has opted to live in the wilds of Alaska, totally dependent on the the land, wild game, and what they can fashion with their hands and talents. If they don't work hard to prepare for the future, such as winter setting in, they will go hungry and be without adequate wood for fuel. There is no running to the store for meat and veggies, or ordering a delivery of propane and charging it to your credit card. Despite it being very hard work, there is much to be said for self-sufficiency, and for learning to make good use of what you have. Timely maintenance and repairs are the order of the day. The same holds true for our relationships. They take work, they take time, they are important!
Along with taking good care of what you have, and sustaining it's usefulness as long as possible, comes the awareness that we truly NEED so much less than what we have come to believe is necessary to have a good life. Older homes have much smaller clothing closets... the reason is obvious... the average person's wardrobe was far less extensive in times past. How many coats/dresses/pairs of shoes do you really need? How much of what you have spends most of it's time in disuse or storage? Do many of those "necessities" reside in storage boxes that get moved from place to place and rarely if ever accessed? I know that I am sometimes guilty of picking an item up from the store that I know I already have, just because that's faster and easier than finding it in the jumble of storage boxes. Maybe it's time to get those boxes organized and pass along what we don't need to someone that has use for it.
As I get older, I crave more simplicity in my life... less is better. Making do with what we have is fine. In reality, my life is very blessed and there isn't a need for high living, embellishment, or impressive consumption. Maybe we all need to work toward getting back to the days of the button box... and learning to be caretakers of each other, our possessions, and mother earth.