Baby’s First Christmas – a Pickle Jar Legacy

There is a story circulating in email circles, about a pickle jar. My Aunt sent it to me.

In it, a father and mother put a large glass pickle jar next to the dresser in their bedroom. Each night as part of his nightly ritual, the father would empty all the change in his pocket into the pickle jar. The son of these parents knew about the pickle jar and loved seeing all the shiny coins in it.

When the pickle jar was full, the father sat at the dining table with the son and rolled the coins to take to the bank. They were deposited in a college fund for the son. The father told the bank clerk “These are for my son’s college fund. He’ll never work at the mill all his life like me.” The father and son would celebrate the deposit by buying an ice cream cone on the way home. The father let the son put the change from that purchase into the emptied pickle jar when they got home.

The years went on and the father persistently emptied his pockets into the pickle jar, through thick and through thin, working or not. Eventually the son did go to college with the money saved up from the pickle jar. The pickle jar disappeared from the parent’s room – no longer needed.

The son married, had a daughter and came home for a baby’s first Christmas visit with his father and mother – the proud new grandparents. The son’s wife went into the grandparent’s bedroom to change her daughter’s diaper and pointed out to her husband that the pickle jar was back – now needed for the new generation. The son, with a lump in his throat, emptied his pocket change into it.

The son, author of this story said of his father “he never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.”

This grandfather not only acted on his personal finance principles, he also very visibly demonstrated the fact that he was acting on them to his growing son – without lessons, without lectures, without homework.

He also underscored the family’s belief that part of their legacy was to ensure that following generations received a good education and that the legacy was important enough to work towards it for years. He demonstrated the belief that through dogged persistence a family can achieve impossible dreams, and he showed his son and new daughter-in-law how to carry forward those legacies.

What’s your pickle jar? What part of your family legacy does it teach?

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