In the front hall coat closet, high up on a shelf next to the sewing kit, lies a jar full of different buttons of many shapes, sizes, textures and colors. As a child, any time a button broke or went missing, my mother would reach up into that jar and find the perfect button to fix the pants or shirt in need.

On a quiet morning, my siblings and I would climb up on a chair and take the jar down from the shelf, spilling its contents onto the floor and exploring the array of buttons. Each one had an imaginary story that filled us with excitement and a sense of exploration. We would say the large red button with the intricate cloth covering had fallen off the fancy suit that was worn on that special occasion years earlier, or the black button had fallen off my father’s kapota when he was dancing at a nephew’s bar mitzvah. The gray one, the striped one, the square one or the triangle one with the three large holes—each button told another story.

But more than the jar full of buttons that contained a fix for any garment in need, it reflected a life of compassion, comfort and intelligent advice that my mother patiently shared with each of the 12 of us, each child so different than the next, like the many buttons in the jar, each with our own separate group of friends and unique needs. Despite these many individual differences, my mother was able to weave us together and connect us all. With each story she told or scraped knee she bandaged, for every hurt feeling we had, and every hug and kiss we needed, she was there for us. My mother built a strong, loving home and a joyous household. It was my dear mother who stood at the large front glass door when we climbed onto the school bus in the morning, and she was always there to greet us with a smile when we came home in the afternoon.

It was at our dinner table that she would serve a homemade meal and provide us with a chance to share what happened during the day, giving each of us special time and a listening ear, and dishing out some advice along with delicious food when we needed it most.

The most special time of the week was the beautiful meal on Shabbat evening that my mother would prepare with such joy and grace. It was a table full of light, laughter and the most amazing company. Guests would join our table in honor of the holy Shabbat. Almost every week, an additional 10 to 15 people would join our table—some strangers, some friends, some cousins or relatives from a distant city. Every person had a story to share with lifelong lessons that would mold us and inspire us to grow and to learn. My mother taught us what it means to care for someone in need, she taught us how to love, and. most importantly, how to rejoice in other people’s happiness.

As with the multiple colors, sizes and shapes of those buttons, my mother showed us how life is a reflection of the contents of that jar. We have had happy days, great days and not such good days. But just as you can find the perfect button to enhance a blouse, jacket or pair of pants, in life, as well, you can uplift with a smile, kind word or warm embrace.

Thank you, Mommy, for a wonderful childhood, and for continuing to be there as I grow older and build my own young family. May G‑d bless you with much happiness and joy, with a long life filled with nachas from all of your children and grandchildren and yourself, in good health.

In honor of mothers everywhere, let us take on the amazing mitzvah of inviting someone new to our Friday-night tables this week in order to enhance our Shabbat experience!