37 jars: all shapes and sizes. 

Square ones with clip-on lids.

Octagonal ones with metal screw-top lids.

Normal round jam jars with pretty patterns on their shoulders. Inside, the last drop of scrummy jam plays a game of hide and seek.

37 jars: all shapes and sizes.

Their contents consumed and their labels scrubbed off; washed three times in hot, soapy water.

37 jars: all shapes and sizes.

Some are old jars that once held jams and jellies and lived in cluttered cupboards. Others are old marmalade jars, once used as juice beakers and cocktail glasses by the trendy restaurant in town with the pastel décor and magazine cut outs on its walls. 

What was Lily’s favourite type of jar? The ones filled with chocolate spread of course! Receiving a jar like that meant Lily could climb onto the counter, grab a spoon from the cutlery drawer, sink it into the jar of gooey scrummy chocolate goodness and eat until her stomach ached and her heart was happy.


It was late on a Friday afternoon when Lily began gathering jars. She rummaged through every cardboard box in the garage and searched through all of the tea chests in the dusty attic. 

After three hours of hunting, Lily lined up 17 glass jars on her front porch. She was proud of her progress, but she knew her job for the day wasn’t over. As the sun started to sleep, Lily set to work. She hauled two tin buckets to the porch and began to wash the jars. She scrubbed the jars clean in the first bucket filled with hot, soapy water. Then, she rinsed them in the second bucket filled with warm water. Finally, she wiped away the excess water and dried each jar. The late evening sun cast shadows of the jars on the floor of the porch.

As she dried the water droplets away from each jar, Lily told her puppy how pleased she was with the collection of jars she had found in the house. Finding 17 jars was a great number, but she would need at least double that for what she had planned.

The week following her great find Lily cast her search far and wide. Each day, as she jumped off the school bus, jars greeted her on the steps of her porch. Some were clean. Some were not so clean. Lily didn’t care: the sight of new jars delighted her. 

Old Man Jack, as Lily called him, lived two houses down. He was a very friendly man and shopped in the same grocery store as Lily’s family. Whilst talking to Lily’s dad he heard about her jar collecting appeal. Jack was married to a beautiful woman named Esther; he called her his princess, even after fifty years of marriage. Esther adored Lily, and loved her just as much as she loved her grandchildren who lived out of state. On a Wednesday night before dinnertime, Esther and Jack brought Lily an old apple crate containing nine jars. NINE jars! Lily’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.

Lily wasn’t collecting jars because she liked to recycle or to raise some spare change to spend on ice-lollies on her summer vacation. She was collecting the jars so she could fill them up with treats and give them away to good homes. She wanted to paint some of the jars with pretty pictures and fill them to the brim with special things that would make people smile. 

It was the following Friday evening. After eating some delicious BBQ ribs and drinking too much cola Lily sat on the swing chair in the porch. With a notepad and pencil in hand she began to scribble down the names of people that she wanted to give her jars to.

1.    Sophia, her piano teacher

2.    Daddy

3.    Her nana, Isabella 

4.    Her Pop

5.    Mummy 

6.    Her sister, Emily 

7.    Abigail, the mailwoman

8.    Store clerk

9.     Optician

10.     Radio DJ

11.     Gardener across the road

12.     Aubrey, her best friend

13.     Teddy bear

14.     Victoria, her hairdresser

15.     Derek, her soccer coach

16.     Princess Esther

17.     Old Man Jack

18.     Puppy dog

19.     Pastor

20.     Katherine, the old lady with the purple skirt at church

21.     Mayor

22.     Mechanic

23.     Ellen, her old ballet teacher

24.     Bella, her cousin

25.     Aunt Sarah

26.     Uncle Cameron

27.     Cookie-maker at the market

28.     Sweet shop lady

29.     Rabbit

30.     Kimberly, the waitress at the local diner         

31.     Window cleaner

32.     Florist in town

33.     Bus driver

34.     Janitor

35.     Dinner lady

36.     Paper boy

37.     Lily


    She thought it was only fair that she rewarded herself with a bright shiny jar! After a short game of fetch with her puppy dog, Lily got back to work and wrote out a list of all the things she wanted to put into the jars. She would explain the reason for the contents of the jars when she presented each lucky person with their jar.



Noisy bells


Lots more hours


Magic powers


Pink false nails

A picture of a snail

A pretty veil




An Eskimo dog




Lightning flash



Prayer beads

A few good deeds


Chocolate sprinkles 

Cream for wrinkles

Shiny stars that twinkle-twinkle




Lego blocks

Lollipops and bottle tops


Jingly keys and honeybees

Endless hugs and ladybugs


Biro pens and eggs from hens


Colouring pencils and pretty stencils


Freshly cut grass and painted glass


A large glass of homemade lemonade



The next day, Lily was pretty busy. She went to the arts and crafts store in town and spent some of her pocket money on four little jars of paint and two brushes with very soft, tan coloured bristles. 

    When she came home, Lily began to paint some of the 37 jars. She painted a big red heart on one and lots of little hearts on another. A blue, green and pink butterfly wrapped round most of one jar. She decorated the rest of the jars with lots of pretty pictures including a bright, bold golden sun, a sailboat and brightly coloured flowers. In between finishing her homework and completing her chores, Lily spent the rest of the weekend decorating all 37 of her jars.

On Wednesday, Lily’s daddy drove her all over town to track down each person she’d scribbled on her list. At each stop, her daddy waited patiently in the car as she ran up to front doors and reception counters, with a colourful jar in her hands. When Lily placed a jar into the hands of her friends and explained the reason why she was giving them a jar, some laughed, others cried, but everyone smiled at her thoughtful gesture. Each flashed a heartfelt grin and gave Lily a huge hug, thanking her for the extremely thoughtful present. 

    After Lily had given out all of her jars, she went home to pack. She loaded up an old green leather suitcase, that she’d found in a thrift store for five dollars, with all of her vacation clothes. The summer vacation was always an exciting time for Lily. This year, her parents were taking four weeks of unpaid vacation and sweeping the family out of state for a great, big adventure. Lily had managed to pack everything into her suitcase this year - well, almost, she was taking an extra backpack for day-trips. As she told her daddy when she dragged it out for him to pack into the car, “Girls need a lot of stuff. It’s just how we operate.”

    She dragged her suitcase toward the car and passed two jars that sat on the porch. Before the family took off, Lily announced that she’d be back - she had to run to Old Man Jack and Princess Esther’s house.  They were playing a game of dominos on the porch and smiled when they saw Lily running toward them, her hands clasping two colourful jars. Before Jack or Esther could say hello, Lily placed the two jars on the table and jumped into Esther’s lap. 

    “Here are your jars!” she said with great excitement. “I hope you enjoy them!” Lily watched as the corners of Jack’s mouth turned upwards into a smile, eyeing the jar filled with loads of chocolate sprinkles. Oh, how he loved to put chocolate sprinkles on his ice cream! Esther looked at the empty jar that sat beside Jack’s jar of sprinkles. “What’s in there?” she asked with playful curiosity. Lily beamed with pride. “Why that contains a lot more hours for you and Jack to spend together!” Esther was overwhelmed with gratitude and could feel tears forming in the corners of her blue eyes. She thanked Lily and gave her a great big cuddle. 

Lily heard the revs of her daddy’s car. She jumped from Esther’s lap onto the porch, planted a sloppy kiss on Jack’s cheek before taking off toward her car, waving goodbye to Jack and Esther as she ran. 

“All ready to go?” Lily’s daddy asked. Lily nodded eagerly, climbed into the backseat and buckled up. As they pulled away from her house, Lily thought back with satisfaction about all the jars she’d given out. She smiled as she stared out of the car window and sipped from the 37th jar - an ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade.


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