My late mother-in-law (Muriel Anne on paper, Mutsy in my heart) kept a white cardboard box in her office that she simply called her “happy box.” Muriel had thirteen years after her husband died and she made good use of them by traveling the world over. Her happy box was filled with 8×10 glossies of her adventures. Wildly colorful hot air balloons, arctic polar bears, Indian temples, grazing giraffes. Her happy box could take you places.
When the family undertook the heartbreaking job of sorting through the home that sustained forty-four years of marriage and five kids, I walked away with two treasures. Musty’s recipe for lazy lady donuts and her button bag. Both have served me well.
The donut recipe, well, that hardly needs explanation, does it? But the buttons. The buttons have evolved. When I got home I poured her buttons into my grandma’s little wooden sewing box that was sitting empty on a shelf. I was surprised at how long I could sit, just running my fingers through Mutsy’s plastic jewels. Every once and a while I’d stop and line up a few favorites to admire. Then I’d mix them up and do it all over again. Button therapy.
I put the box back on my bookshelf. But I kept coming back to it. Every time I slid the lid off, I’d discover a new favorite beauty. Sorting through the buttons brought me a strange peace. I’m not sure how many visits it took for me to realize that I now had my very own “happy box.” A box full of bits of flashy color. A box full of history. A box full of potential. Everything about my button box makes me happy.
So last December, when I set out to create a word of the day advent calendar, I knew wanted to showcase some of Mutsy’s buttons. Now I get an extra jolt of button bliss when I hang the daily word. I reflect on the buttons almost as much as I do the words. Both make me slow down and pause, which is a nice tap on the shoulder reminder – especially this time of year.
I’ve been stuck on one of last week’s word. Alacrity. Which, admittedly, I had to look up the first time I came across it. But the definition stayed with me.
Alacrity (n): a brisk and cheerful readiness to do something.
A real nugget of advice when you stop and think about it. I mean, it’s sort of silly to approach life any other way. I like to think of it as channeling my inner Mary Poppins. Which is not to say you’ll routinely find me singing and waltzing through the halls with my umbrella. But it does encourage me to stay present and keep an eye out for little unexpected joys. Because they’re everywhere, aren’t they? Sometimes it just takes the right outlook to find them.