Wright Words: Christmas Jars tradition celebrates 9 years of miracles

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

When my novel "Christmas Jars," was first released in 2005, our goals were modest. We aimed to sell a few books and inspire readers to experiment with the tradition for themselves. On a personal level, I hoped to reignite the spirit of Christmas in my own heart and home.

In 2005, it was about a book.

Nine years later, it’s about a movement of miracles.

For the uninitiated, the tradition is simple and works for anyone and any size family. Simply place an empty pickle, peanut butter, jam or other Mason jar on your kitchen counter or desk at work. Each day, every member of the family drops their spare coins into the jar. Even in this day of electronic money and debit cards, you’ll be amazed at how quickly a few shiny pennies and a quarter will accumulate into real change.

When Christmas arrives, gather with your family, church friends or officemates and select someone who might benefit from a little boost. During the last nine years, based on thousands of emails and anecdotes, we’ve calculated that by the time a jar is given away, the average Christmas Jar holds just more than $200.

For many of us, $200 is the difference between keeping the lights on and paying for prescriptions. For too many, it could be the difference between young children experiencing disappointment or a moment of magic on Christmas morning.

Don’t take my word for it. Read just three recent submissions to our Christmas Jars Story Library. These are real people, real jars and real stories. For some, they're miracles.

North Ogden, Utah

“My husband is a teacher in the LDS Church's seminary and loves his students and is loved by them. Just after school started, the headaches he had been experiencing for a long time suddenly escalated and became unbearable. It was discovered he had blood and fluid on the brain. After waiting for it to be re-absorbed, he finally had surgery to drain and release the pressure. He was in the hospital for most of a month, and is still recovering at home, but still even a shower exhausts him. The doctors have said this is akin to having a stroke and will take time to heal. His students and former students are all so wonderful and have done many things to cheer him up. He so wants to be back and they so much want him back. Time will tell if and when that will happen.

“Anyway, last Sunday night, we heard a knock on our door, and when I answered it, no one was there. Then, some time later, we again heard a knock on the door and this time, when I answered it, there was a huge (I mean, HUGE) jar on our front step. It took a lot of work to get it inside, because I couldn't lift it. I weighed the four bowls I had filled with the coins and cash and it all totaled up to about 80 pounds! No wonder I couldn't lift it. This is such a wonderful thing that will help to pay the doctor's bills that are still coming in and help with physical therapy. We can't begin to express our love and thanks for this act."

St. Joseph, Minn.

“Our family has been through one of the most difficult years ever this past year. First, our daughter was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. In the midst of it, I lost my job. While I eventually found work, it hasn't been enough to provide for our family.

“On Thursday, I spent an hour in specific prayer — at Eucharistic adoration — praying that God would provide some sign of hope. I felt very near despair.

“So, you can imagine our surprise at finding our first Christmas Jar on our deck last evening (a day after praying). The large jar had the initials 'C.J.' (Christmas Jar) written on it.

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