Rochel Burstyn: Penny For Your Thoughts

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rochel-byline-165x300I was at Meijer just the other day and my little one wanted a ride on Sandy the Horse, which as you probably know, is one of the cheapest things in the world. I plunked her on and as she happily shook the reins, I duly went fishing to the bottom of my bag for a penny.

I had quarters, dimes, a handful of mini chocolates (you know, in case of emergency), assorted wrappers, receipts and hair ties, but I couldn’t find a single penny. I explained to my little one, that, alas, I had, well, too much money and couldn’t get her the ride.

Luckily, it didn’t bother her that the horse wasn’t rocking and she still considered her time on the stationary Sandy very enjoyable, which just goes to show that the best things in life are free. (And don’t point out that “air is free” because it isn’t always. Ever bought a bag of chips?!)

shutterstock_269570699Another time I found myself at a wishing well with my kids. They noticed the piles of pennies at the bottom and, after one enterprising kid suggested sweeping the well, gathering the pennies and taking them to the bank, I explained that people had thrown them in as they made wishes.

My kids were enthralled and wanted to try it, so I went looking through the depths of my bag once again, but on that occasion, too, I could not find a single penny. (I did have quarters, but as I was using a coin-operated washing machine at the time, quarters had a previously unmatched value and were just way too precious to literally throw down the drain.)

One of my kids suggested we throw in Daddy’s credit card, a suggestion I admitted might have some perks (smaller bill that month) but might also involve some risks (being spotted by someone with no fear of water and a penchant for identity theft), so, needless to say, we left that wishing well with some grumpy kids, unwished wishes and a vague awareness that pennies are so worthless at times that people just chuck them into water.

There are even trays at the registers in some stores for people to leave their stray pennies for the next person to take. Why there? These trays should be in Meijer, next to Sandy!

Why am I talking about pennies? Because, for many of us, one of the greatest hopes for the coming year is a deep-seated dream to become fabulously rich! So I’m taking the opportunity to point out that riches do come with downfalls. Like, you might have 25 million times the price of a ride on Sandy the horse and still not be able to actually pay for it when your little one wants a ride.

Of course, as the year ends, it’s a great time to count our blessings, find contentment in our lives and not get too swept up with materialism anyway.

Wait a second. How is it almost 2017 already? All that Y2K hysteria feels like just a little while ago.

I suppose there’ll be a different kind of hysteria for people who have heptadecaphobia, or fear of the number 17. I don’t know exactly what makes them nervous; I suppose if I lived on the 17th floor of a building, I’d have a constant fear about the elevator breaking, but I’m not sure that’s it.

The numerical value of the Hebrew word tov (good) equals 17. Wishing everyone a good and happy new year, a fabulous 2017!

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