Grandma’s Button Box

A fellow poet and blogger posted a poem the other day that mentioned a shiny new button, and while commenting on it, I thought about my grandma’s jar of buttons. Sherry still has her grandmother’s beautiful button box, so I included a picture that shows it, as well as Sherry’s button jar. Anyway, the memory inspired the following poem. Enjoy! Reposting this one for dVerse Poets Pub’s “Poetics – Button, Button”.

Grandma’s Button Box


The worst thing is losing a button

Or so it seemed back then

Grandma getting her button box down

Grumbling ‘bout your careless ways

As she began the hunt for one to match


The box full of every kind of button

A boy could possibly lose

Some of them shiny

Small ones and large

Every color of the rainbow in there


Chittering ‘cross the table

When she poured them out

Tired of stirring them ‘round with a finger

Hoping to get lucky

Knowing that wasn’t the way it would be


And when at last ‘twas found

That perfect shiny button

Or at least one so close no one would notice

Back into the box the rest would go

Until the next time


I’d watch the little box

Go back into its place

Marveling at the question

Handed down through all time

Wondering from where

Do the buttons come

That keep the button box full


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn


  1. Claudia said

    ha..good question…part of the magic i’d say…smiles

  2. Sherry Mashburn said

    I spent many hours playing with Grandma’s buttons when I was a little girl. Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories.

  3. Another warming slice of apple pie, that’s how i feel when i visit your blog and its the reason i keep popping back to see you. lovely Charles.

  4. ha that button box is just magic….but that is def a question i oft wanted to know the answer to…ours was a mason jar though….nice one sir charles..

  5. Wonderful memories. I often wondered too, where all those buttons came from…lol

  6. Mary said

    Yes, indeed, where did all those buttons come from indeed? I often wondered that myself!!

  7. dfb said

    A beautiful poem, wonderful sentiments.

  8. I agree with Claudia that it’s likely magic. How wonderful to have a grandmother with such a full and varied mending box (in all its metaphoric glory).

  9. I, as a child, also wondered where all the buttons came from. Some I learned when I was older came from removing the buttons on new clothing and replacing them with fancier buttons to make something look more costly. My daughter has my mother’s button box, I assume, for she has the sewing box that stood ready to have whatever was needed to repair a tear or a lost button.
    And, yes, I had my own button box, but it has been hiding for a while. You created a curious wonder for me, as to where it is ! I can remember removing the buttons off shirts to be discarded and the buttons off my husbands worn work shirts. I HAD to be different and string like buttons on a thread, tho I think part of the “fun” or enjoyment was going thru the old buttons and maybe remembering the clothing and the events that the buttons stirred.

    Thanks for your lovely reminiscence about buttons.

    Peace, Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • That was differnet, indeed, Siggi–stringing like buttons on a string. But smart and organized, too. I know my grandma did the same thing with old shirts, but I don’t know about putting fancier buttons on new clothes. Maybe she did, though.
      I’m glad my poem stirred some memories, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • Perhaps there is a button heaven that rains them down to keep the button box full….I know what you mean. There seemed to be magic in my mother’s button box.

  10. Ah, grumbling grandmas, don’t we just love ’em – good one 🙂

    • Oh! My grandma could grumble with the best of them! And that was one of the things I loved about her.

  11. zongrik said

    i found a perfect button once, it was an alien head, and there were matching flying saucers!!! that’s my perfect shiny button

    3 radio button senryu

  12. hedgewitch said

    Great fun, Charles–you really brought it all back. My grandmother took buttons off old clothes after she finally gave up on mending them. She had the coolest HUGE old coat buttons from stuff from the Art Deco times. I loved playing with them as a kid. (Nowdays I wonder how many kids get thrilled at the thought of playing with a button collection?)

    • You’re probably right; kids have so many toys and diversions these days, I doubt they would find buttons very interesting. But, you never know!

  13. Button boxes are indeed magic – I’m really enjoying some nostalgia here for my Mum’s button tin. It was huuuuuuge, seemingly bottomless! 🙂

  14. Nice share…I do like the question of where do all the buttons come from ~ Happy day to you ~

  15. hiroshimem said

    Very clever as usual… I’m jealous of your observation skills! I really liked the ending, it’s making me think… Guess I’ll have to rummage through the buttons to find the answer.

  16. kaykuala said

    Leave it to the ladies,Charles! They have a way of doing it. It’s not hoarding but cleanly storing for the rainy day.


    • Oh, I leave the buttons to the gals for sure, Hank. Although, I have sewn on a few buttons in my time. I was a quite homely child, you see, and Mom thought it would be wise to teach me to take care of myself; cooking, sewing, ironing, etc. 🙂

  17. And our children have no idea what we are talking about with this image!

    • Yes, this one is definitely dated. Today’s chid: You can put buttons back on?? Why?

  18. An excellent question. I would suggest the ‘Button Fairy’ but it may not satisfy everyone!

  19. This is a lovely poem, takes the reader straight off down their own memory lane afterward. The picture is a lovely touch.

  20. aprille said

    You mentioned they often get too tight :
    Next time you sew on a button: put two matchsticks in between the button and the shirt, to remove later and give it some slack.
    [That’s what I taught my husband :-)]

  21. Ravenblack said

    Have to wonder about the origins of those buttons, perhaps handed down as well or simply taken off shirts not wearable anymore. Love the sense of wonderment, so universal, and seemingly timeless on this one. Enjoyed the way you wrote this.

  22. This is really a lovely poem, Charles– you show several sides of the Grandmother – the magic side, for sure, but the tut-tutting side too–the onerousness with the fun – and the awe that children especially have for collections there too. All with the kind of simplicity of the moment. Really lovely, and actually one of my favorites of yours. (Though I probably say that all the time.) k.

  23. C Rose said

    fell into your memory with ease, lovely ~ Rose

  24. Gay said

    Yes a lovely poem – sets up such a relationship between child and grandparent, and weaves in and out of the curiosities of a child.

    I can tell you now that you’re all grown up and I’m a grandmother the source of the buttons: When one is in the notions part of the store, and buttons are “on sale”, one buys several for men’s shirts, large ones for housecoats or such like, and when clothes “wear out” the buttons are cut off before being thrown away. Sometimes garments come with extra buttons, these are put away with all the rest in case one falls off, and for the dress or suit that lost a button, it is taken to the fabric store, and a new one is searched for. If it can’t be matched the others are replaced with ones of the same size and extra ones are bought thus the many buttons in the jar. 😉

    • Oh! And next I suppose you’ll tell me there ain’t no Santy Claws??
      Thanks, Gay!

      • Charles…she’s exactly right…I’d forgotten about the buttons taken off when a match couldn’t be made…buttons multiply faster than rabbits in the jar…Santy Claws knows wants purty buttons in their stockings for a new outfit…made to match the buttons of course. ☺.

      • Oh… ah’ight den

  25. Fun and beautifully nostalgic!

  26. ‘Chittering’… 🙂

  27. David King said

    Magical days with their magical ways. Ah, if only… Thanks for this.

  28. Susan said

    Finally a little break in vacation allows me to visit! I adore this poem that almost gesture by gesture paints a vivid picture with sounds so that I can both watch and see you watch a mystery just as puzzling as the tooth fairy. And if that was the worst thing–your grandmother loved you in deed. Thank you for a sublime minute!

    • A break from vacation… hmmm… something not right about that comment.
      But! I appreciate the kind words about my poem!
      Thank you, Susan! (Try and relax every chance you get!)

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: