Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Jars (copy)

All it takes is a little glass jar full of coins to change the world. In my latest fictional world, there is a family, who by yearly tradition, use an empty mayonnaise jar for spare change. This spare change, which collects until Christmas, sometimes equals less than a hundred dollars, but somehow makes all the difference to that year’s recipient. This year is Hope Jensen’s turn.

Hope, more than anything, wants to be a reporter, not just any reporter, but a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. A goal she doesn’t take lightly. As early as kindergarten she blurts out her career crossroads, “One day I will grow up to become either president of the United States or a famous newspaper reporter.”

Her mother teases, “The latter is more honorable.”

Hope agrees, and in increments she sets out to accomplish the latter. By second grade, she is making up stories about a pack of fun-loving motorcycling bunnies. Third grade she switches to hero stories with a down-n-out mouse that saves the day. During fourth and fifth she expands into a newsletter called the “Jensen Report” which mails out to family and friends.

Readers can guess her drive leads to the local newspaper where she starts at the bottom with advertisements and now blue inks others as a copy editor. Through it all, her single mother documents the upward climb by lovingly cutting out Hope’s best stories, opinions, and advertisements for the family’s bulging scrapbook.

Ever the workaholic, Hope rises at five in the morning and comes home around nine in the evening. Spending her time in search of the break through story—something which will carry top-of-the-fold coverage and last three or four issues—she doesn’t mind working on weekends. Now that her loving mother has died of cancer, holidays are also spent at her desk.

It is during this first Christmas Eve without her mother that trouble ensues. Working at the office, she returns home to an apartment in shambles. Her television and DVD player are gone, plus the little cash she had hidden away.

As the investigators wrap up, she notices a brown paper bag by the door. Inside is a jar marked “Christmas Jar” filled with coins and a few twenties. Here is her story of a lifetime.

In author Jason F. Wright’s 2005 book Christmas Jars one will find a world of change. Be forewarned this rates four tissue boxes.

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