Andrew Johnson (left) and Dominic Spataccino, of Dwyer, Inc., are Mary’s saviors after getting her heat back the day after Thanksgiving. As usual, the holiday was a disaster for Mary. (Photo by James Gulivindala)

Andrew Johnson (left) and Dominic Spataccino, of Dwyer, Inc., are Mary’s saviors after getting her heat back the day after Thanksgiving. As usual, the holiday was a disaster for Mary. (Photo by James Gulivindala)

by Mary Gulivindala

“When ill luck begins, it does not come in sprinkles but in showers.”– Mark Twain, “Pudd’nhead Wilson”

I have never been a superstitious person. Yes, I’ve avoided walking under ladders and skipping over cracks in the sidewalk so I wouldn’t break my mother’s back, and wishing on stars, but I never new why. It was child’s play.

However, my pattern of horrendously bad luck over several recent holidays has proven that my superstitious behavior is completely justified. I feel I’ve been cast under unlucky Holiday Spells.

Since I was raised Irish Catholic, a belief in anything supernatural, like magic, goes against my belief system. I am supposed to put my faith in God, period. I also know that evil exists. My bad luck on holidays may not be evil, but it sure is an expensive pain in the you-know-what.

My last few holiday experiences have been a testament to Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Take note, Murphy is an Irish name. I am Irish. Let the coincidences begin.

• July 4, 2012: Philadelphia was hit with a whopper heatwave. My air conditioner unit, which is housed on my rooftop, broke. After climbing a 30-foot ladder and working on the unit in the scorching sun with a friend, we were able to repair it, but it was a horrendous ordeal. Happy 4th of July, folks.

• Christmas Day, 2012: My sister gave me a membership for AAA emergency car service. On the very next day, Dec. 26, in a mad rush to get my son to his basketball playoff game, my car wouldn’t start. We had to call a tow truck, and my son missed the game. Before that day after Christmas, I never had to call a tow truck in my life. Merry Christmas!

• Valentines Day, 2013: My boyfriend broke up with me.

• September 11, 2013: Not a holiday but worth the mention. My divorce was finalized.

• Thanksgiving Day, 2013: I ended up staying home alone due to a tooth infection that was making me nauseous and throwing up all day while my family was feasting. You’d think that would be bad enough, but NO. My oil heater stopped working! No heat, and I was freezing! The irony is that a week before, I had written an article for the Local about another horrific experience involving the delivery of a cord of wood. I thank my lucky stars that I at least had that wood! Are these holiday disasters all coincidences, or am I somehow inviting foul play among the spirit world of yonder?

Looking back over my family history, I feel superstitious writing this, but most of my older son’s birthday parties have also ended dramatically. My father-in-law had a stroke in front of my son’s kindergarden class at a bowling alley; on another birthday a friend threw a rock at my other son’s face, broke his nose, cut his face and caused an outpouring of blood; need I say more? Here’s one more for the books: Hurricane Sandy hit and took out the power, lights and heat on his 14th birthday.

And there was the blizzard in January of 1996. I was living in an alley in South Philly. I moved to New York City on St. Patrick’s Day two months later, and it was still snowing! And I won’t even go into what has happened on New Year’s Day!

What have I done to deserve all of this holiday madness? After researching luck, good and bad, mostly bad, I came up with what I will refer to as my Holiday Emergency Kit. Below is the list of things I need in the kit. Some people have them for hurricanes, others for their cars, but for me, holidays:

• The rabbit’s foot: The foot of a rabbit is believed to bring good luck. It is likely that this belief has existed in Europe since 600 B.C. among Celtic (Irish) people.

• Four-leaf clover: In the early days of Ireland, the Druids believed that they could see evil spirits coming when they carried a shamrock, or three-leaf clover, giving them a chance to get away in time! They thought four-leaf clovers offered magical protection and warded off bad luck.

• Horseshoe: These have been associated with good luck for more than 2,000 years. When migrating Celtic tribes began invading the British Isles around 400 B.C., they told stories about mysterious, magical “little people” such as elves and goblins, which had the power to prevent cows from giving milk and chickens from laying eggs or even causing infertility in people! The local people hung iron horseshoes over their front doors, which supposedly “frightened the little people because they looked like the Celtic moon god’s crescent.” Luckily I have obtained a horseshoe, and I’m sure that my house will be the only one in Chestnut Hill that has one hanging over the front door.

So then what does the saying “The luck of the Irish” mean? I have no idea. The “luck of the Irish” has been almost all bad, including centuries of oppression by the British, the potato famine and being despised in the U.S. for many decades.

So because of all my bad luck at holiday time, on Christmas morning I will wake up and eat a bowl of Lucky Charms with one hand and hold a horseshoe and rabbit’s foot in the other. I choose to believe. Happy Holidays!

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