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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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New Year

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Originally published on January 7, 2011

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group — East Bay

With a little luck, it’s going to be a good year.

But luck can be pretty capricious, so you have to work it, which is something well known in my family.  When it comes to working the luck, my mother-in-law, Eva, is the master.

If a circumstance calls for knocking on wood, Eva effortlessly integrates it into her conversation, like an acrobat who’s juggling while riding a unicycle. “Your cousin Carolyn finished all her college applications.” Knock, knock, knock. “Now she’s just waiting to hear.”  Knock, knock, knock.  “I hope it works out the way she wants.”  Knock, knock, knock.

Eva is an expert at both summoning good luck and banishing bad luck.  The goals are more or less the same; it’s just the tactics are different.  When my son enthuses about a trip to Florida he’ll soon be taking, Eva responds by chanting  “toi, toi, toi”, an old world custom of hers for warding off evil.

Under Eva’s influence, everyone in the family tries hard to solicit luck.  While driving in the car with my kids looking for a parking space on Piedmont Avenue, I notice my youngest daughter rubbing a pocket size Buddha that she carries in her purse, which she claims brings her luck.  “There’s a spot,” she jubilantly cries.

Another time, I find my oldest daughter frantically searching for a pair of volleyball shorts.  When I point to four identical pairs of volleyball shorts on her bed, she looks at me with dismay and replies, “No, I’m looking for the ones that helped us win at the last tournament.”

My five-year-old son finds luck in more than just stray pennies he picks up.  He believes that a white pebble, a black feather and one red Skittle candy, discovered on separate occasions, bring him luck.  (Watching him get them off the ground, I always hope he won’t pick up anything besides luck.)  He keeps his own stash of lucky items, enlisting one or another, as he deems appropriate.

Among us, my husband stands out with his unique ability to identify luck.  He finds luck in guises that most of us miss.  After I sneeze multiple times in a row, I’m always comforted when he responds, “Something good is coming your way.”

I’m definitely the weak link, when it comes to courting luck. It doesn’t come naturally to me, perhaps because I wasn’t exposed to it growing up, unlike the rest of my family.  If I’m being entirely truthful, you could also say I have my doubts.  I have a hard time believing these things are truly lucky.

But I’d like to believe.  The next time I start sneezing, I’d really like to believe it was more than just another cold.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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