Pennies from Heaven

The days bookended between Thanksgiving and Christmas were my mom’s favorite time of year. After the table had been cleared, the Thanksgiving leftovers put away, and the kitchen was set to rights, it was time to enter the “skoof” at the top of the stairs to retrieve the myriad of boxes containing mom’s precious ingredients for stringing lights and decorating the tree.

Walking toward the City Peanut Shop—one of our favorite stores in downtown Boise—I notice a penny on the sidewalk and smile. Not just an ordinary smile, but a gleeful smile of knowing.


Many people who happen on a penny might think, “Someone has a hole in their pocket.” Perhaps others feel it points toward unexpected good fortune. Then there are those who believe that happening upon a penny is a sign from a loved one who’s no longer physically with us—Yes Laurie, I remember.

When was the last time you happened on a penny?


65 thoughts on “Pennies from Heaven

  1. Good morning, Laurie! I can’t remember the last time I came upon a penny like that, but your post made me smile. I love (as you know from my blog) how coming across an object or how even thinking of some event then triggers memories of someone or something that was special in your past.

    I never heard the word “skoof” before. 🙂

  2. Cliff has a penny story that I’ll tell here. In the months and years leading up to the publication of his children’s book, The Boy Who Grew Too Small, my husband collected pennies. So each day he’d look for a penny on the sidewalk, and I’m sure smiled a gleeful smile when he spotted a shiny one. His bottle of pennies became a token for a dream that became real when the book was published in 2006.

    Later, he looked past the penny jar to the book in his hand and most certainly wore a gleeful smile of “knowing.” Thank you for your Christmas memory here and for asking these probing questions each week, Laurie. Season’s greetings to you, Len, and Evan. Oh, and Willa too.

  3. My grandson recently happened upon 4 pennies in different places in a store and then a dime as he was leaving….I told him he was being showered with love. I am always on the lookout for pennies from heaven and am delighted when I find one….especially when I’ve been thinking of someone no longer on this earth 🙂

  4. Laurie, oddly enough, it was in the grocery store parking lot just the other day. Having heard all the versions of goodness in Penny-finding, the best was from my Dad who came to mind as I bent to retrieve it. Once, citing the time-honored “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck!”, I bent to pick one off the sidewalk. Being that I was of an age to start questioning the veracity of adult spoken wisdom, I asked my Dad if those words were really true. “Of course,” he replied, “you are now one cent richer than you were a minute ago!”

  5. I was always taught to pick up a penny if it’s facing ‘heads,’ for good luck. But NEVER pick up a penny turned the other way. To this day, I follow that tradition/superstition. So far it’s never steered me wrong. xo

  6. In my younger days I spent a lot of time on the road with a team of educators. We all became rather close and supportive of one another. One of our members had recently lost her dearly loved grandmother, so, each day, she searched the sidewalks diligently for a penny, which she took as a smile from heaven. If the sun began to set on a “penniless” day, things became a little tense. So, I would walk ahead and strategically drop a penny in her path. Heaven knows I’m certainly no angel, but it’s nice to get to pinch hit from time to time.

  7. See a penny pick it up all day long you’ll have good luck …
    That what I grew up with . Pennies are quite beautiful especially the shiny new ones . But do we ever use them these days . Car park pay boxes won’t accept them , in fact I don’t think can remember being given one for a while , and yet, I always have the odd one hanging about in my purse ..
    I had a lady that used to have her hair done some years ago and she used to save up all of her pennies and twos from the week and give me a heap as a payment …I hated it .
    My mum and dad had new pennies in their stocking at Christmas …they were very special in those days .
    Complements of the season to you Laurie

    • Cherry — I have to smile at the lady who’d bring in a heap of pennies and twos as payment for services rendered. And I love that your folks got pennies in their Christmas stockings. Warmest holiday wishes to YOU and Yours. Peace, Joy, and Health in the new year.

  8. Your mom sounds like someone who was both very organized and a person who kept the Christmas spirit alive for all of you.
    I don’t recall finding a penny recently. My sister Terry has often found penny’s which she attributes to a message from dad.
    We also know when we notice dragonflies dad’s spirit is around. Dragonflies like butterflies go through a transformation to shape-shift to that form. After his death we all saw them around us. My mom loved butterflies. She died in January so it certainly wasn’t butterfly season. We all (12 sibs) made picture boards for her focusing on different family groups and service communities. All the family boards had butterflies including mine which I kept up for months. Finally I put it away. I clean the room every week clearing, dusting, vacuuming. Yet several weeks ago during a tough week I noticed something … and picked up one of the colorful fabric butterflies that had been on the board. I suspect mom found a way to give me a hug by keeping that butterfly hidden until the right moment.

    • Audrey — I love that you associate dragonflies with your dad, and oh-my-goodness, I got happy tears when I read about your mom’s fabric butterfly that she kept hidden as a special hug for you until just the right moment! Happiest of holidays to you. Peace, Joy, and Health in the new year.

  9. Hi, Laurie,

    I frequently come across pennies when thinking of my dad. In fact, that is what caused me to immediately read your blog today. My aunt once found 13 pennies lying next to her car outside a favorite restaurant of my dad’s on his birthday, August 13. She knew right away that her brother was with her.

  10. I live in Canada where pennies are no longer in circulation, so finding one is a real gift! (By the way, I don’t miss pennies at all.) My favourite penny find was when we were starting to do renovations on our cottage – a place into which my father-in-law had invested a lot of time, manpower and love. We began the work with anticipation, and with an eerie sadness about tearing down some of the very walls he had put up. When I began to clean the bedroom where he used to sleep, I found a penny. Not everyone would believe so, but I believe it was his way of saying, “Go for it! This place needs some work.”

  11. We don’t have pennies anymore in Canada thanks to Canada’s former prime minister Stephen Harper – emphasis on the word “former.” But I last found a penny sitting on the bookshelf in the spare bedroom – just recently.

    Merry Christmas, happy holiday however you spend it.

  12. Ah as another Canadian read on your thread Laurie, I need not tell you about the loss of our penny. But I have a few saved in jars. I didn’t turn them in for exchange. I like the penny just for its small denomination and copper beauty. The other day though, I lost a $20.00 bill out of my pocket – put it in the same pocket as my smart phone. Not very smart for a photographer who uses her phone more to take photographs than anything else. Now I have been occasionally enjoying thinking about who might have found it.

    It is when the wind would blow the door open rather than finding pennies that we know we had visitors from the past. We used to have a lot of visitors. Our doors didn’t always latch very well when the house shifted in the cold. Or if we drop a pot or pan then it means company is coming, dead or alive is yet unknown.

    • Terrill — I hope the person who found your $20 bill was someone who really, really needed it and was able to put it to good use.

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the significance of wind blowing a door open — you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll remember that. And about dropping a pot or pan, too.

  13. ‘A sign from a loved one that’s no longer physically with us’
    I grew up hearing ‘pennies from heaven’, but never understood the full meaning of the term. Thank you for sharing it with me, Laurie.

    It’s been too long since I saw a penny–Sharon explained why.

    But speaking of peanuts…
    A few years ago, my husband bought a jar of roasted peanuts for a Christmas snack. The jar made me recall how my dad inhaled them, by handfuls. My husband swears that he tightened the lid before we went to bed, but the next morning the lid was on the table beside the jar.

    Happy Holidays, Laurie.

  14. Had to switch coats this morning – too cold for my walk the raincoat – I reached into the pocket and there was a dime I found last year on my last walk in the old neighborhood. I took it as a sign that our house is going to sell very soon and that it was just a year ago that I was walking 2 miles every morning and happy that I am back to 1 mile now..
    Happy happy, Merry, merry Holidays We had a bit of snow for solstice last night in the darkness – very beautiful and the Christmas lights made it seem festive 🙂

  15. As a kid when I walked along with my father and we came upon a penny on ground, the decision to pick it up or not depended on whether it was facing up on the heads side or the tail. A tail side up penny meant bad luck if you picked it up. The head side meant good luck. Who knows how many tail side up pennies we left where we found them.

    • John — This is only the second time in my life that I’ve heard that (both by commenters on today’s blog). I leave ALL pennies (face up or down) where I find them, but you can bet I’m going to pay closer attention in the future 🙂

  16. I haven’t found a penny in many years, but last week found a nickel and a dime in the middle of the street. My first thought was a hole in someones pocket, then I rejoiced, “I’m 15 cents richer!

    Happy Holidays!

  17. The last time I found a penny, it was smack in the middle of a puddle, and I did not want to get my gloves wet. So I let it be, willing it to bring someone else good luck!
    Happy holidays and a Merry Christmas! 🙂

  18. We believe like you Laurie that a penny is a sign from Heaven. My son found one next to our car in Canada the last time we were there. It was not there when we went into the rink but was laying right next to the passenger door when we came out. He was excited saying it was probably Papa because he had had a good game! Merry Christmas to you and your family and blessings through the New Year! Tina

  19. We were at Disney World with the grandchildren yesterday, Laurie. The only souvenir either of them asked for was a penny with Mickey stamped on it. The machine that made the penny was totally fascinating to both of them. You put two quarters and a penny into it, and you get an oval copper souvenir back. What could be more magic than that! I so enjoy re-entering the world of wonder through their eyes.

  20. I just came upon a penny 2 days ago….as I stooped to pick it up, in my mind I was saying…”Penny, Penny bring me luck as I am the one who picked you up” Then I dropped it in my coat pocket to find later to remind me of all the luck I have had since finding. it. Love you theory too….Happy Holidays…kat

  21. Laurie, it’s been so long since I found a penny I can’t remember the when of it. My mom always told us finding a penny meant we’d be blessed with good fortune. I was always on the lookout for one, and now I will be again. When I find one, I’ll think of you!

    Season’s greetings filled with warmth and hope.

  22. Here the saying is
    See a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck
    Give the penny to a friend and your luck will never end.
    Finding a penny is a chance to spread the luck and the love.

  23. Actually it was this morning! A shining penny on the floor when I stepped out from an elevator. I hope Christmas greeting from a loved one delivered on the Boxing Day 🙂

  24. I’ve always picked up pennies off the ground as a matter of routine but always attuned to the perception that such an act brings good luck. Naturally they were equally on heads and tails. Years ago the enthusiasm to do that was greater, now some people see them as nuisances. Ugh.

    • Sam — Our Canadian friends here on this blog told me that pennies have been eliminated in their country. I had no idea! If the good old US of A ever decides to do that, I’m going to hang onto mine 🙂

  25. I suppose in a magical sort of perfect harmony, it’s not entirely surprising that I happened upon a shiny nickel just yesterday as I walked back to the house from the mail box. Like a bit of punctuation on an already perfect holiday season – it was a physical reminder of all the abundance in my life, if only I remember to notice. Then I come here and find a question about a penny, and have to laugh because of my embarrassment of riches. 🙂

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