Dottie took the handful of coins and brought them over to containers on the shelf behind the sink in her kitchen. She reached for a ceramic jar, removed the lid, and then dropped the quarters in. The dimes and nickels went into a second jar next to it.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I had to ask, “Do you separate them to make it easier to count out later?”
“No, they’re for the Christmas Jar. Didn’t I ever tell you that story?”
Realizing that no, she hadn’t, she shared a fascinating story of hope.
“A few years ago, my husband was suffering from a long illness. For five years there was no income. We had gone through all our savings… I had sold most of my jewelry. The housing market was terrible….our vacation home wasn’t selling and my adult kids were helping to pay two mortgages. Then he died. The bills kept coming in.
“I was in a bad way, financially and emotionally.
“It was to be my first Christmas without him. My oldest daughter had flown me down to her home in Virginia to be with her and her family for the week before the holiday. When I returned home, another daughter picked me up from the airport. The plane had been delayed due to a terrible snowstorm. I was exhausted. When we got to my house, I had to walk through deep snow to get to the front door.
“Finally getting to the top of the stairs, I opened the storm door and a bag fell over. My first reaction was What now?
“When I later counted the money, there was just over $100 in it! I no longer felt hopeless, and I was deeply touched that someone would do this for me.
“The giver was anonymous, and I still don’t know who gave the jar to me.
“After I received the jar, things turned around. The vacation house sold. I was able to pay my bills and stay in the house we had owned for 50 years.
“I never used the money from the Christmas Jar. The jar is still upstairs. It gave me hope at a time when I was at my lowest. Now every year I save money to put into a jar that I give to someone else, so they can have that same feeling of hope, and know that they are not alone. But, it’s important that the person doesn’t know who gave them the jar, it has to be anonymous.”
After she shared her story, Dottie sent me upstairs to get the jar and the book. The jar was heavy, filled with coins, topped with a shiny silver bow. She had added masking tape which proudly stated “My Christmas Jar”. The book, Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright, explained the background of the jar.
On the inside cover of the book she had inscribed her name, followed by Left at my door 12/21/09. I will always be grateful to my unknown donor.
“The Christmas Jar was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2012