One of my fondest memories is playing a game called the fox and the chickens or fox and the geese. My grandma taught me how to play using a board drawn on a piece of paper (see the picture above) and buttons from her button jar. It’s a little like checkers, but the fox only gets one button. My brother and I have used pennies for the chickens and a nickel for the fox. Play is fairly simple, the fox can jump a chicken if there is an empty spot in a straight line on the other side of the chicken. The fox wins when it has jumped or eaten all the chickens. The chickens win by penning in the fox so it can not move.
The button jar was also used to repair our clothes. Lose a button off your shirt? Grandma has one that will probably match in the button jar. Need some decoration for an art project? Grandmas’ button jar. Need a toy to entertain the younger grandkids? You got it, Grandma’s button jar and some string. She showed us how to make a spinning button toy. You needed really big buttons for this to work. I remember we used to find and save buttons to take to Grandma so we could see her eyes light up at the treasure we had brought her. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the treasure was us and the time we were spending with her.
All of this impressed on me the idea of being happy and have fun with whatever I had at hand. It also taught me that even something as simple as a button may be used in many ways. This helped me to look at problems and find creative simple solutions. The fond memories of Grandma’s button jar carry into my everyday life. What is your button jar?