Lucky - FamilyEducation

Lucky

December 31,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

It's the Day Before the New Year today, and I'll spend it the way I usually do every year, cleaning house before the end of the year, and making the traditional Greek yeast bread, the Vasilopita. We'll hide a coin in the dough, as I always do, and the kids will fold the sweet, soft dough over it and argue, purposelessly, over who will be the lucky one this year. I was just thinking this morning that I can't even remember who got the coin last year, although I'm pretty sure L. will remember if I ask him. So much seems to ride on that one, tiny coin, yet we all quickly forget who was the lucky one each year. When I was younger I superstitiously believed so earnestly in the power of the lucky coin, and felt almost doomed when I didn't get it in my piece. And if I DID get the coin one year, I would hoard it away, feeling secretly that the luck from it was already working its magic, and all I'd have to do is sit back and wait and Great Things would come my way. I'd wait. And wait. And wait all year for that lightning bolt of luck to cleave the sky and rain down on me. I wondered, what would luck feel like? Was it like falling in love? Winning the lottery? Becoming famous? Being popular? Would I even know it when it happened? It's always easier to recognize bad luck, somehow--we can spot it so quickly, even kids can pick it out of a crowd. But luck--what would that feel like? In the years between wondering all that and getting to the here and now I did fall in love (it was a little like a lightning bolt), and marry, and have children, and land a job I enjoy, and buy a home I love, and publish some writing, and make it through difficult times, and meet many good friends. I think I know now what luck looks like--years and years from when I was so young and first found that sliver of silver coin peeking out from my piece of the New Year's bread and thought luck just had to be something concrete and tangible like that coin. The trick is that luck is the most intangible thing of all, really--you have to look at it just right to see it, step back and tilt your head just so to catch it out of the corner of your eyes; it's elusive, luck is, but only because we expect it to take a different shape. Luck is tucked into bed at night with your children, and it rests against the curves of their cheeks, and in their eyes. Luck is coming home at the end of a long day, and seeing the lights in your windows, and your husband moving about in the kitchen, and your children running to see you at the door. Luck is standing in the doorway of the house you grew up in, and being able to hug your parents, feeling like a child again, even if just for a moment. It's waking up in the morning--any morning--and taking that first deep breath; it's watching the gentle arc of a dolphin's back nudge the horizon. Luck is woven into the pages of a good book, one with just the right words; it's in the simple things in life, the things that so often go unnoticed because they demand so little. Luck is everywhere, shining, waiting, building. Happy New Year--happy lucky year to all of you.