Traditional Tidbit: Count Your Buttons Day

“Okay, class, listen up. Tomorrow is ‘Count Your Buttons Day!’ Hooray!”

I think my teacher was expecting a little bit more enthusiasm from us than she got, because no one cheered. Because no one knew what “Count Your Buttons Day” was.

“Ms. Fitzminer, what in the world is ‘Count Your Buttons Day’?”

Oscar, the class genius said, “Well, Blair, it seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? What else would you do on ‘Count Your Buttons Day’ besides count your buttons?”

The class laughed.

Ms. Fitzminer, sensing that Oscar’s response would ignite Blair’s hot temper, stepped in to explain a little further.

“Class, just like what Oscar said, but expressed in a more polite manner, ‘Count Your Buttons Day’ is a day where we all get to count our buttons!”

Still no enthusiasm.

“But, in our class, we are going to make it even more fun than simply counting buttons.”

Even more fun? What if the idea of counting buttons wasn’t fun in the first place?

“We’re going to have a competition!”

The class shuffled in their seats to pay a little bit more attention. We didn’t give her all of our attention; she hadn’t earned that yet. But the word “competition” usually brings along with it the word “prize,” so we thought it might be worth some of our time.

“Tomorrow we are having a button counting competition. I will place you into teams of four. The goal of the game is to be the team that is wearing the highest number of buttons on their clothing. Whoever wins gets a prize.”

We all sat up straight and fixed our eyes on Ms. Fitzminer.

“What kind of prize, Ms. Fitzminer?” Blair asked.

“You won’t know until you win, but I promise it’s a good one.”

We all went home, and even though I could never know for certain, I’m sure that my classmates were tearing through their drawers, just like I was, in search for their most buttony clothes.

The next morning we all piled into the classroom at eight. Ms. Fitzminer was waiting there for us. She had drawn a table on the board that would track the number of buttons each team had.

“Now remember, class. You can only count the buttons you are wearing. You have two minutes to count. Ready, set, go!”

I had nine on my shirt, six on my pants, ten on my hat, and even two on my shoes. Dale had eleven on his jacket, four on his shirt, and five on his pants. Lucy didn’t like competition so she didn’t wear any buttons.

“Thanks, Lucy,” I said. “If we win, you’re not getting any of whatever the prize is.”

She stuck her tongue out at me. Whatever.

Jimmy had a total of twenty-one buttons, and Earl had fourteen. Altogether we had seventy-two buttons.

“Not bad!” I said to the others.

“Class! Class! The two minutes is up! Starting out with team one, shout out your numbers, please.”

“Sixty-eight!”

“Seventy!”

“Twenty-four!”

“Forty-nine!”

“Seventy-two!”

What? How was that possible? Team five had the same exact number as us!

“And team six?” Ms. Fitzminer asked.

“We have seventy-two as well.”

We were the last team to go.

“Hmmm. A tie. It seems like you two teams will have to share the prize!”

Lucy smirked at me.

“But no matter! ‘Count Your Buttons Day’ is more about fun than winning anyways.”

“So what is our prize?” I asked.

Ms. Fitzminer giggled with excitement. She could hardly contain herself -- I thought she would explode.

“ONE GIANT BUTTON!” she yelled out in exuberance.

The button was bigger than my head. I looked around at my teammates. None of them wanted it. And I didn’t want to carry that thing home. It must have weighed ten pounds, easy. I looked over at team five -- they had the same look on their faces. No one wanted that giant button.

I got a devious idea in my head.

“Ms. Fitzminer! We all think Lucy should get the button! See, poor Lucy doesn’t have any buttons!”

“Oh! That is a wonderful idea. You are all so kind.”

I smiled at Lucy as the bell rang and she took off down the hallway, lugging the giant button behind her.