Behind Mom and Dad’s door stood an old, five-gallon plastic jug, the origin of which I have long forgotten.

Every time Dad had a pocketful of small change, he would toss it into the jug behind the door. The five of us Pearl kids kept the corners of the house, the laundry room, and even the street in front of the library well-scoured for pennies and nickels to add to that old jug. It usually took about 6 months to get that jug about half full.

Finally, when we were convinced there was enough in there to make a difference, the three oldest of us would haul the jug to the table, heave it up, and dump it out. The shower of dirty change onto the table was a thrill I still vividly remember. Mom would hand us the bag of brown paper rolls from the bank, and the counting would begin. Even three-year-old Shalom climbed up on the bench and counted out pennies. Nathan recounted her stacks, and Gabe would recount Nathan’s. And I, being the oldest, had to recount every stack just to make sure.

The first counting session was always a little disappointing. Our hopes were generally higher than the pile of change. But by the second or third counting, we triumphantly arrived at a figure that would take the whole family to Baskin & Robbins for a banana split – EACH!

Looking back, I can’t see much value in all the banana splits that once thrilled my heart, but counting that change, and the recounting, and re-recounting… was more valuable to my basic math skills than all my ABEKA math workbooks put together. Twenty years later I can count a handful of change at a glance.

Rebekah Joy Anast