The Lucky Red Leaf

“Mommy!! I caught one! I caught one!!!” Alyssa yelled to me from the yard. She was almost dancing.

“Caught what?” I asked. With her, it could be anything from a butterfly to a lizard.

“A red leaf! I got a red leaf!”

Not at all what I had expected. “Oh. Good!” I said back to her.

She stopped dead and gave me the look. She always sees right through me.

Her hands went to her hips. “It’s a red leaf. You know. A lucky red leaf.”

“Ahhhhh! You caught a lucky leaf!!” I said, this time with the appropriate enthusiasm.


Three years ago, when Alyssa was four, and Wyatt was two, and Dylan was almost seven, we were in the car on a trip–a long day trip, two hours one way. About halfway to our destination there was a collective kid-meltdown. (Which is totally expected when you have three children packed elbow to elbow across the backseat of a mid-size sedan.)

Smack in the middle of the flaring tempers and frayed patience, Alyssa announced that she had to use the bathroom. She HAD to go, and she COULDN’T WAIT. And the closest bathroom was 20 minutes away.

So we stopped beside the road and while Alyssa and I were getting things taken care of, she spotted this bright, perfect red leaf on the ground and she picked it up. It struck me odd, because it was the only red leaf anywhere around. All the others were dull golds and varying shades of brown.

As I buttoned her back up, she admired the leaf and touched it’s jagged little edges.

I don’t remember what started the argument in the backseat that day, but I do remember that I felt like Alyssa had come out on the short end.

I said, “You know, red leaves are lucky.”

Her eyes grew a little larger, and she started to grin. “They are? Really?” she whispered.

“They really are. When you find one, it means you’ll have good luck, and a good day.”

She kept smiling while I helped her into the car and buckled her back in, never taking her eyes off the leaf.

Of course, as soon as we pulled out, she waggled her leaf around in front of her brothers’ noses singing, “I got a lucky leaf, I got a lucky leaf.”

So we found another pull off with a shedding red tree and snagged two more lucky leaves. (My husband said I really should’ve seen that coming.)

Turns out, the leaves really did have some magical, mystical power, because they changed everyone’s mood immediately after finding them.

Funny how something so small can be so powerful.


 So the other day, after Alyssa caught her lucky red leaf, (in mid-air! That made it even luckier.) Wyatt and I started scrambling to catch one, too. We tore around at every flip of the wind jabbing into the air until we both finally came up with one. I am certain we looked completely ridiculous to anyone who happened to be driving by, but it didn’t matter. We had a ball. We tripped because we were watching the leaves instead of our footsteps. We almost ran into each other. We laughed. We made a memory.

Of all the things that are said and done every day, you never know which will be the ones that your children remember. I don’t know all the details that Alyssa records, but she remembered that red leaves are lucky. And I’m so glad she did.

Comments (8)

  1. Ryan (The Woven Moments)

    Wow! What a fabulous writer you are, Jenny!!

    I’m so glad we found each other…thanks for linking up with #ShowYourWork. This post is MY lucky red leaf today. 🙂

    1. jenny leigh (Post author)

      Thanks, Ryan. Me too, and I’m sooo glad I linked up!

  2. Stephanie

    Such a lovely story! I felt like I was running around with you, trying to catch a lucky leaf. It’s both amazing and a little bit alarming how you never know what will make an impression on a child. It makes everything we say potentially meaningful. What a huge responsibility!

    1. jenny leigh (Post author)

      Thank you, Stephanie! I think that’s what struck me. I had completely forgotten about it and she had remembered it for all that time… you never know what they keep in their heads. P.S. I really enjoy your blog!!

  3. Abby

    When I was in college, I used to scoop up red leaves, bring them back to my dorm, and press them between the pages of my favorite books. Years later, I still open a book I haven’t read in eons and a perfectly preserved red leaf falls into my lap. It feels like Christmas every time it happens. :0)

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Love this post!

    1. jenny leigh (Post author)

      What a great thing to do, Abby! Even more proof that Red Leaves are lucky 🙂

      I kept the red leaves we caught the other day and made them part of our little autumn dining room table decoration. This makes me wish I had pressed them!

  4. sara

    What a lovely story and sweet memory for your child and your family! A child’s memories and perspective makes each day interesting.
    sara recently posted..Inbetween contractsMy Profile

  5. Matt

    I just marked this page on my “favorites” button so I can access it easily. Thank you for causing me to not think about work for a few minutes while I read this story. 🙂


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