Hope in a Jar

May the gifts of love, happiness, peace and warmth
be yours this holiday season,
and into the year to come.

For the past few days I’ve been struggling with what to write.  With all the challenges we’ve faced this year, I wanted my message to be meaningful, touching and inspiring.  At one point I considered re-sharing a post from two years ago (The Golden Wrapping Paper), but my wife said, “You can do better than that!”  She was right!

In 2005 Jason Wright published the NY Times Best Seller, Christmas Jarsthe fictional story of Hope Jensen, an aspiring journalist who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon; money-filled glass jars anonymously given to people in need.  The idea for the book originated the year before when Wright and his family sat down to brainstorm a new Christmas tradition.  They wanted to make Christmas something they’d remember all year long.  When asked what prompted the family meeting, Wright responded, “Christmas for me had been a 24-hour event for most of my life, and I think that’s the natural default for most of us; you open the gifts, you go to the movie or whatever else you do on Christmas night, and then you’re done for the year.”

The family decided to save all its spare change in a jar, which tallied nearly $90 that first year. As Christmas neared, the Wrights anonymously gave the jar to someone in need.  Accompanying the jar was a note acknowledging the money wouldn’t necessarily solve the recipient’s problems, but was at least a reminder they were being thought of and someone cares.  A true story follows:

December 11, 2020

Coburn, Pennsylvania —

We just received a jar this morning. It was left sometime overnight, outside our garage door. I had never heard of this tradition and honestly am sitting here crying as I write this. My fiancée was laid off in March due to Covid and I’m at home with a newborn & homeschooling 3 other young children. We have been doing odd jobs to make ends meet and were wondering how Christmas would go this year, how to explain to them that Santa didn’t have enough to go around this year. I have no idea who would’ve done this for our family but to know there’s someone out there who thinks so highly of us is incredible. In times like these, it certainly makes me have faith in others again. Thank you so much. I hope next year we are able to do this for someone else.  – Sarah Dean

So how do you get started?  A Christmas Jar is a peanut butter jar, Mason jar or anything else you have to collect spare change each day.  All coins are dedicated to the jar all year long, and during the week before Christmas you carefully select someone to give it to anonymously.  Perhaps there is a neighbor who has lost their job due to Covid, someone struggling with health problems or a friend who has simply fallen on hard times.  Leave the jar on their porch, in their car or another secure location.  Make sure to add a little note letting the person know that you care, and hope the gift brings a little more joy into their holiday.

Sometimes all it takes is one small action to change someone’s life for good.  It’s that one small gesture that gives hope and becomes the springboard for a better year – one in which the recipient may continue the tradition of the Christmas Jar.

Embrace the Challenge
Happy Holidays