The Love Jar

Where there is great love there are always miracles –

Willa Cather

The LOVE JAR. Well, that’s what we call it, anyway. The blue and gray pottery jar with the cork lid sits on the counter near the dishwasher. “Unconditional Love” is engraved across the front. We’ve had that jar for seven years now and it has been incorporated into our family’s language. It was given to us when life as we knew it blew up. Julia’s gift brought me immediate inspiration and became a vehicle for the three of us to experience joy and laughter. When I brought it home to the boys, I told them that the jar would be a means for us to make good memories. Then we came up with an astounding idea:  “Let’s go to New York City!”  So, we devised a plan to put away as much money as possible into our “LOVE JAR”.  Both boys immediately broke open their over-sized piggy banks and poured their change into the jar. I emptied my wallet of loose coins and spare one dollar bills. My oldest son, (who worked at an after school job at the local grocery store) volunteered to contribute a portion of his paycheck to it. My youngest son agreed that anytime he received money as a gift, he would put it in the jar. Spare change from each grocery store excursion was added. We even began to find money on the ground-some in major denominations!  When we told friends about our trip to the Big Apple, they would drop money in the jar whenever they visited.

The jar was magical! When I called my aunt to ask if we could stay with her for four days (she lives in the vicinity), she said that she would be thrilled to have us. We were relieved to know that we would be staying in a safe place with someone who knew and loved us. The trip was to take place right after Christmas- just in time for the school winter break.  And we were ready! We met our savings goal and off we went.

It is difficult to put into words how it felt to be in the warm embrace of my aunt’s hospitality and generosity. Not only were we fed and sleeping in warm beds, but my aunt drove us each day to the train station and presented the three of us with rail passes for the duration. When we went into the city one last time, she handed me cash and told me that I’d better not come home with any change!  The trip was the first of our many happy new memories that we were making during that time. And it would not have been possible if not for Julia’s thoughtfulness.

Needless to say, we came home from the trip with money to spare. It resided in the LOVE JAR where it continued to be depleted and replenished over time. The jar has become a reliable resource for us. We took a second trip to the city six months later, seeing new sights and enjoying warmer weather. It helped us enjoy our “Celebration of Three” party that spring. Part of our recent weekend trip to the mountains was funded by the jar. Sometimes we use it to buy something as simple as a stamp, a gallon of milk, or a loaf of bread. To this day, friends still put money in whenever they visit.

The LOVE JAR is my family’s miracle. It was a way for the three of us to begin to heal from one of  life’s worst heartaches and become a whole family in a different way.  We take care of each other. We rely on each other. We hold one another up. We love one another unconditionally. The LOVE JAR has restored our faith in the meaning of and power in family. THANK YOU JULIA!

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