There was a time when your father’s allowance was just a penny. When he put a tooth under his pillow and the Tooth Fairy replaced it with a penny. He would remind you of this one day when you complained about the toonie you got for your last tooth. You lost track of all the times he said, “back in my day, that only cost me a penny”, but you knew he would never let you forget it.
There were times when you went to the store as a kid and all you had was four cents that you picked up off the sidewalk on your way… And you bought four little penny candies; sour round things coated in sugar, because you were one cent short for the pack of gumballs.
There was a time when, if you walked past a penny on the ground, you would literally count yourself lucky. And no matter what happened to you that day, it would be shrouded in goodness because you had that penny in your pocket, and that meant good luck.
There was a time when every convenience store had a jar that said, “Take a penny, leave a penny”, and people counted on that jar when they were just a few cents short of their purchase. It was a symbol of community, of helping your neighbor. And every once in a while, you might find a quarter in that jar and that would be the most exciting part of your day, but you would leave a penny in it’s place, for someone who needed it.
Then there came a time when maybe you moved to a foreign land, like Australia, and they didn’t have pennies. Everything was rounded up or down. 5 cents was the smallest currency. Still, you remembered those pennies, what they looked like, how exciting it felt to find a shiny one on the ground… to read the year on it, and compare with your friends who had the oldest penny.
But it doesn’t matter anymore. Those days are gone. Today Canada starts to eliminate the penny.
And one day we will tell people about the penny candies that we used to buy, or all the good luck that came to us from a penny we found on the ground. And they will have a hard time trying to understand how something so small, could ever have meant so much.