Love Is Like A Magic Penny


Candle flame
apple pie
pile of pennies

One of these does not belong. Which one?


Thirty-seven years ago when I was pregnant with my second child, I was worried.  I loved my then three year old with such an intensity, how could I possibly spread my love enough to include this new child?

As many mothers around the world learn, it was never a problem.

Love, I came to learn, is not a zero sum game.

Love is more like a candle flame.  Or a magic penny. Before we get to magic pennies, let’s tackle zero sum games. That’s an apple pie.


An apple pie, with thanks to


Actually, it needn’t matter if it’s apple or pumpkin, lemon meringue, even mince; any pie will suffice for our example. Whatever the contents, when the more I eat means the less you eat, we are dealing with a zero sum game.

Love, I was happy to learn, is not an apple pie. Love is a candle flame. While the initial candle turns out to be zero sum, the flame lives on. From one flame, I can light many candles.


a non-zero sum game, aflame on the washing machine. 

So, we’ve got love, apple pie, and candle flames. It’s time to add magic pennies. Love is like a magic penny.

Malvina Reynolds from one of her album covers

Magic Penny is a Malvina Reynolds’ folk song from the 1950s. A song about universal love and how the more we “give it away,” the more we “end up” having.  And really, who wouldn’t like more love in their life?

When Woody and I lived in Kazakhstan, this was the song we often sang as our “toast” for special occasions. When we returned home, my grandchildren learned to sing it with us.

Here’s Malvina Reynolds singing Magic Penny.  Click this link

Here are the lyrics, in case you also want to teach it to your grandchildren as I have done:

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.

It’s just like a magic penny.
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor. For

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.

Money’s dandy and we like to use it
But love is better, if you don’t refuse it
It’s a treasure and you’ll never lose it
Unless you lock up your door.  For

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.

So let’s go dancing ‘till the break of day
And if there’s a piper, we can pay
For love is something if you give it away
You end up having more.

Want to listen to it again?  Click this link


Please join our conversation. Tell us your story. How do you give your magic pennies away?

Besides, love, candle flames, and magic pennies, what other non-zero sum games can you identify?

13 Responses

  1. KM Huber
    | Reply

    Great song and great post, a lovely moment with abundance. Thanks for that.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Karen. Always appreciate your visit.

  2. Alia Chandler
    | Reply

    Hi Janet — Love the pie as a zero-sum game. I would say that encouragement is a zero-sum game. The more I encourage others the better I feel. The ones I encourage in their turn, encourage others. The “pay it forward” idea. Thanks for getting me thinking about this, Alia

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hello Alia, and welcome. I love your addition to my non zero-sum game list. Encouragement. Yes, indeed. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Elisa Lucozzi
    | Reply

    This song was sung alot in my house when I was growing up! Thank you for the memory and the lovely post.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      So glad to hear, Elisa. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Diana Beebe
    | Reply

    What a sweet post, Janet. There is always room for more love. 😀

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hello Diana, So nice to have you stop by. Thank you.

  5. Gulzhahan
    | Reply

    Like this song very much. I remember how you and Woody sing this song in Kazakhstan.

  6. Janet
    | Reply

    Hello Gulzhahan, It’s so very nice to find you here tonight. Thank you.

  7. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, I know I’m a little late to the party here, but I just have to say the metaphor of the candle and the flame living on is one of my favorites and takes me back to the time I was pregnant for my son and was concerned about my 22-month-old daughter. Of course , there was more than enough love to go around! Lovely post. Thank you.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy, Thanks for stopping by. Nice to see you, as always.

  8. Jule Turnoy
    | Reply

    A friend who taught Kg spread these pennies thru many classes. She died as a result of an auto accident but I feel sure that her investment paid off many times over.

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