Jesus Money is a tradition that my great grandma started with my brother, my cousins and I when we were little. Now that my kids are old enough to be saving money for toys and games…. I figure its time to start saving Jesus Money, too.
Every year at Thanksgiving, after the turkey and pies had been devoured and after the dishes were done and we were all laying around bloated enjoying each others company my grandma would break out the board games. Right before that, however, she would bring out little tin banks that looked like little houses, each one bearing the name of one of the grandkids.
We were each handed our box and given the instructions to go home and earn money for Jesus.
We would do extra chores our parents thought up for us, we would stash away coins we found laying around. We did what we could to fill those boxes full of coins and the odd dollar bills.
When we came back together at Christmas we would round up the little tin houses once again and empty our earnings together at the nativity. What seemed like meager earnings quickly added up when you multiplied it by 5.
Once the money had been counted and we knew what we had, the grandkids got to decide how to spend that money. How would we spend that money in a way that would make Jesus proud? What birthday gift would we give Jesus with that money we had earned?
One year it would be given to a local food bank, another to a homeless shelter. As we got older and understood more of what was going on in the world our chosen destinations for that money were more and more thoughtful. One year a local family lost their home to a fire a few days before Christmas. My cousins called around and we decided that we would round up the Jesus Money a little early and pass it along to that family who was so desperately in need of a little extra cheer.
All of my siblings, cousins and I have grown into adults who feel the importance of supporting and helping the world around us. We are active in our communities and in the world, helping to promote kindness and generosity to humankind. I like to think that this small tradition instilled a greater purpose in us as children and was, in part, responsible for the kind of people we turned out to be.
In our house, we still play Santa. I will as long as my children will let me. But there is another focus … the focus on the birth of Jesus and the spirit of giving, sharing and helping. A spirit that I hope they will learn to carry throughout the year …and throughout their lives.