A Charmed Life

Everyone has their own set of traditions that they follow. Some are to celebrate history. Some are to honor the past. And some are just fun – like ours.

Each New Year’s Day, my wife’s family has a tradition that involves charms and pound cake. My mother-in-law painstakingly bakes a pound cake, often times two because there are enough people in the family to warrant it, that is full of charms.

The deal is simple – each person must select a slice of cake and take their chance upon receiving a charm that will foretell that individual’s fortune for the new year. Each charm has a different meaning and possible fortune. All of the charms indicate good luck – which, accidentally, was not the case for about three years.

There was a coin that became known as the “coin of death”. No family members actually died, but the receiver of that coin, for three years straight, had horrible fortune for that year. Nothing severe, but enough that there were cries from the family to alienate the charm. And so that coin now sleeps with the fishes; perhaps it is nestled next to the jewel of the ocean from Titanic, or somewhere in Mordor with The Ring.

Here is a sample of some of the charms that can now be found in the cake:

Other than risking a possible dental emergency, the search for coins is all meant in good fun and truly has little bearing on our futures. It is a cool tradition that kicks off the new year.

Yet each year that’s exactly what many of us look for: some indication of what that new year is going to be like. Across the globe we make resolutions, eat good luck meals, wipe the slate clean and then hope for the best.

And maybe that’s where we all get it wrong.

Maybe we rely too much on luck when we make those resolutions and hope too much for change. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago . But I never stopped hoping for change.

And maybe that’s where I got it wrong.

There are a number of quotes that fasten luck to the outcome of preparation and hard work. There’s even a Jedi that espouses that there’s no such thing as luck. “Luck” can be a positive thing.

Luck also reminds me of the quote from Macbeth (near the end of the play and Macbeth – sorry spoiler) where he taunts his foe that he, Macbeth, “bears a charmed life”. Macbeth so believed, and relied upon, fate/luck that he allowed this overconfidence to vault him over his morals and goodwill. “Luck” can be negative too.

While I am no Jedi, yet, and certainly am not a murderous Thane turned King (you really need to read the play), I guess there is one piece of truth that I can cling on to: a good deal of my charm, my fate, my luck, lies in my own hands.

So this year I can only resolve to do one thing: work hard to make the most positive “luck” that I can.

Happy New Year, friends.

 

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