The Charge Jar at Christmas


8 July 2006





I know I am not the first to do what is defined below but in the chance that someone will read this piece and eventually follow it with their own children……..


Many, many years ago, I saved an empty, plastic, 2-gallon pretzel “barrel” from the trash and begun emptying the change in my pockets into the barrel at the end of each day. Why? I had not idea.


Then one year as Christmas approached, I went to the bank and got paper wrappers for pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and fifty-cent pieces and calling all our 4 children together, I explained that we were now going to dump the jar, wrap all the change, take the rolls to the bank and I would split the total among all 4 of them so they could buy Christmas presents.


And what a good time we had year after year dumping that barrel out on a rug, sorting out all the coins into piles, showing each other the funny looking ones or ones with old dates on them.


And what did each get for their “work?” Usually between $80 and $110 dollars, which to my kids was a lot of money to spend on Christmas.


A simple thing really, but if you think about it, plenty of good lessons learned: the “work” of sorting and wrapping the coin; the family project and interaction; the math involved in totaling a those coin rolls and my requirement that each buy a small gift to be denoted to the church for the poor.


The days of the barrel dump and coin roll are long gone now as all our children are grown and no longer live with my wife and I but the barrel and coin collecting lives on. Now, the barrel gets dumped into a bag and taken to the beach with me each year for our annual, beach week, family reunion, where the quarters are divided among any and all children present for boardwalk games and rides.


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