“I’m saving it for a rainy day!” I used to hear this often when I was growing up. Mom would put things aside for apparently no reason at all and use the excuse “I’m saving it for a rainy day.” What did she save? Buttons of every size, shape, and color jumbled together in a shoe box. Odds and ends of ribbons. Socks that needed mending. Outdated magazines and catalogues. Used paper bags. Etc. One of the small closets in Mom and Dad’s bedroom was full of this stuff, and she added to it again and again. She claimed she had imbibed the habit from her mother.
I remember asking her what kind of rainy day was she waiting for. Mom replied, “I just know that sometime I will have a bit of spare time and those boxes of stuff will come in handy. It’s best to be prepared!” Sure enough, one wet summery day when outdoor activities were unwise, she brought down the button box, enlisted my help, and we had fun stringing buttons of the same color on one string, buttons of mixed colors and shapes on another, we even made crazy, colorful, unique bracelets from buttons. It was a time of memories, too: there were buttons from a well-loved blouse, buttons shaped like animals from my first kiddie jacket, buttons shaped like flowers from a summery picnic hat. What fun! I even hoped it would continue to rain for several more days!
Outdated magazines? On a super cold wintery day I would find Mom in the kitchen near the warmth from our old wood stove poring over these old magazines clipping out food recipes, ideas for redecorating our home, places to write for seed packets for planting in our garden in the spring. One year I even went through all the old farm magazines clipping out cartoons and farm jokes, pasting them in a scrapbook, and wrapping it as a Christmas gift for my dad. He was delighted as much for the gift as for my effort in putting it together. I was so touched when Mom returned the scrapbook to me after Dad’s passing saying that Dad had treasured it so much and used to look at it whenever he needed to lighten up his mood. Mom wanted me to have it as a remembrance of Dad.
Whenever we kids ran out of things to do, Mom would dig around in her Rainy Day Closet and always come up with something. Old socks made wonderful hand puppets; paper bags could be made into masks, or cut open for coloring or painting (Mom made her own finger paints), or folded into paper airplanes. Store-boughten toys were too expensive, so we honed our creative ideas with stuff from her Rainy Day Closet.
However, she cautioned us against just saving for the purpose of saving with no intended use in mind. This would just add clutter, gather dust and insects, and mold. At least once every six months she would clean out her Rainy Day Closet so that its contents would be fresh and clean whenever we kids would “raid” it.
This year’s rainy season has begun. Instead of complaining about the monsoon rains and generally inclement weather that prevent us from going out, instead of sitting in front of the TV and snacking, it’s time to check out the contents of my Rainy Day cabinet. I know it holds a treasure chest of memories, creative ideas just waiting to come to life. And what a wonderful way to enjoy family time together with my apo without spending a single centavo!