Several years ago I found our family in a dire financial situation. My (late) husband had stopped working to battle cancer and finances immediately fell on my lap. This wasn’t good because I wasn’t the primary breadwinner, we used to say I was the sprinkle on top of the cupcake based on what I made compared to my husband.
So I found myself trying to figure out a mortgage, day care, utilities, food and on top of it all…add in medical expenses. All on the salary that we had called “sprinkles”. The one silver lining is that since my husband was self-employed, I worked for our insurance benefits and wow, did we need those! Despite all that the bills were adding up, we were facing the Christmas season and I was unsure how to make what was likely our last the best one ever.
The Sparkle Box
It was the Christmas of 2011 and I had just received another set of bills, tossing them aside and deciding that I was going to focus on Christmas. We opened a book to read called the Sparkle Box. My daughter was 4 and it was part of the Santa bounty that came along every year with each day during the countdown to Christmas. The message of the book is simple, giving gifts to Christ by doing acts of generosity and kindness for others. As I read this book, I felt I was failing as a mom by not teaching my daughter to give more than she receives.
About the same time I was reading the book, on my mind was a bill that had just arrived for about $750 from a medical center that was treating my husband. It was outside of what was covered by insurance, and Christmas Eve and just about the breaking point of my sanity.
My Doorbell Rang.
I wondered who would ring my doorbell at this time of night on Christmas Eve. We opened the door and there were jars and jars of coins and money. A Christmas Blessing, one of generosity and unselfishness because we just saw cars driving away. We didn’t know who it was (although now I’m quite positive I know, but we’ve never discussed it further) and all I knew to do was cry. There was no one to thank, no one to take credit for this unselfish act of generosity. Just like in the Sparkle Box book, a simple act of giving for the true spirit of Christmas.
We decided that we were going to count every cent by hand so that we could truly appreciate it. As it turns out, it was almost the EXACT amount to cover that of the medical bill that HAD to be paid. It was our own Christmas miracle.
It was the last Christmas my husband was alive, but during the next whole year, we rallied people we knew at my office and around our home and neighborhood to collect their jars of coins. My daughter and I grabbed some friends and delivered those jars that year and I hoped it might just do for that family what it had done for mine. Each year now we take jars of coins and deliver to someone in need. I used to wonder how we would find someone, but it turns out that every year we somehow manage to find just the right family. We sneak up in the evening of Christmas Eve, leave the coins, ring the bell and dart away. Modern ding, dong, ditch.
This small act of giving excited my daughter and made her extend her desire to continuously give.
We participate in blessing bag packing and she finds just the right recipients to give her bags to then following the event, we pack food bags, we take cookies near the holidays to the parks downtown for the homeless. Her list continues each year and whether it is a small or large act, the one act of the coin jars encouraged my daughter to live a life of generosity and giving. She fills her “sparkle box” with notes she writes recording her acts of giving every year and leaves it under the tree for Jesus as her gift of giving for others. We read it during a quiet time during the day and rejoice in our blessings.
Life continuously teaches us many valuable lessons daily, but through all of it, I find that she tries to “sparkle” everywhere she goes and live a life of generosity. So if you are reading this and you ever come across a coin on the ground, pick it up, toss it in a jar and find a way to sparkle into someone else’s life. You never know how you can impact a child’s future with these small acts of kindness.