New ebook celebrates 10 years of ‘Christmas Jars’

"Christmas Jars" author Jason F. Wright adds coins to his family's Christmas jar. Courtesy photo by Kodi Wright

WOODSTOCK – After 10 years of hearing “Christmas Jars” inspired stories of giving, author Jason Wright is providing his readers with the jar’s origin tale in his new ebook novella, “Christmas Jars Journey.”

Some families may have a holiday tradition of finding a Christmas pickle ornament or placing an elf on the shelf, but the Christmas jar encapsulates its own culture of giving during the holiday season. After the release and New York Times best-seller recognition of Wright’s 2005 book “Christmas Jars,” that tradition became a widespread effort to give someone in need a little extra help with a jar of collected change.

From Shenandoah Valley settings to the letters his parents exchanged, Wright said all of his novels carry a piece of himself. But “Christmas Jars Journey” is a direct retelling of events that, until now, he’s only verbally described to readers at book clubs and conventions.

Three of Wright’s four children were along for the ride on that first Christmas jar journey in 2004, and while he said they were a bit too young to remember the finer details, it’s definitely no longer the little experiment it was then.

“It’s been so long now that they don’t remember a time without it, which is kind of a bridge I think we’ve crossed this year,” he said. “That night … it was such a pivot point on our family’s spiritual journey that so many of their Christmas memories are anchored to a Christmas jar that we’ve given to someone.”

The "Christmas Jars Journey" ebook is available online where ebooks are sold.

Wright said plopping spare change from the day into jars is now just a family routine, sometimes filling up four or five jars over the course of a year and sometimes handing it off to those who end up needing it in the middle of summer.

“I’ve said this a million times – there’s no right way or wrong way to give a jar away,” he said.

Some poignant stories have made it into auxiliary Christmas jar books next to the original “Christmas Jars” and sequel “Christmas Jars Reunion.” Wright said this new addition to the Christmas jar saga will help to reinforce and further spread its message to readers on the 10th anniversary of Hope Jensen’s tale.

“While it’s fiction, it’s based in fact and we know that it works, he said. “We’re 10 years into this – you don’t need to wonder if this will change your family’s approach to Christmas, if it will bless your life because we’ve done it and thousands and thousands of people around the world are doing it.”

Wright admitted the Nov. 23 publication date through Amazon and Barnes & Noble was a little later than originally planned, saying, “I didn’t feel like I could really finish it until it felt like Christmas.”

Through a special email account, Wright said it’s been an honor to read countless stories of jar recipients – and givers – who said the tradition has helped to brighten their holiday.

“Aside from my family and my faith, it’s the biggest blessing of my life to see this little experiment grow into a movement,” he said.

Learn more about the “Christmas Jars” tradition at http://christmasjars.com/.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com


Excerpt from the “Christmas Jars Journey”

The following is an excerpt from Jason Wright’s new ebook “Christmas Jars Journey.”

Christmas Jars Journey

I’m  sitting at my computer in the early morning hours of December 26, 2005.  We’re living in a shoebox home in Fairfax, Virginia, and my two daughters and baby boy are tucked away in happy slumber.

My wife, Kodi, is sleeping, too. The rest is well deserved; the holidays have taken a toll.

Earlier that year, I’d been laid off from a small, public policy nonprofit, and I was trying to make it on my own as a consultant and political writer.

I’d also decided to pen a novella based on an experiment my family attempted during the previous Christmas season. We’d created a concept that didn’t even have a name yet. It was simply a jar of change on the counter that was to be given away during the holidays.

It hadn’t started as a Christmas Jar, but it had evolved into exactly that.

My book by the same name came out in September of 2005  and by every stretch exceeded our expectations. Perhaps most unexpected was my first of many appearances on the Glenn Beck radio and television  shows. His enthusiastic embrace of the book took it from a regional hit  to a book selling out across the country.

The sweetness of that Christmas night lingers like the smell of fresh pie, and I sit at my iMac and read a few book reviews that have popped up online during the day. It’s an opportunity for me to enjoy the final moments of Christmas before life wakes up on December 26.

With the ding of a digital bell, an email lands in my inbox. I don’t recognize the sender, and because it seems ninety percent of my mail is trash, I nearly delete it.

“No, thanks,” I whisper to my screen. “I’ve already got that Nigerian prince wiring me a couple million any day now.”

Still, something nudges me to open it. I have absolutely no idea that the email will change my life in  ways I will not understand for years.

It’s appropriate, perhaps, because the story of the Christmas Jar really began a couple of decades earlier.