The Gift of a Pickle
If you have a Christmas tree, chances are you have a favorite Christmas tree ornament. Growing up, on my mom’s tree it was a postcard from Germany that my Grandfather sent her at Christmas when he was away in the Korean War. Every year she hung it in the same place of honor at the tip of the tree to the right under the star.
The tree in my house has three constants. The first is that it’s a real tree. A real, big tree. Like the angel needs to be snorting the 10 foot ceiling kind of tree. The second is that it’s covered in Star Wars ornaments that we’ve been collecting since the 90s. We have no fine china or priceless tchotchkes, but we have a case of Hallmark Star Wars Ornaments. I can think of a worse legacy to leave.
So the third is the pickle. It started out as a single pickle, then grew to two when the bears came along. They’re small, blown glass ornaments that glow softly in the glimmer of the colorful strings of lights that twist through the branches. One looks like a small baby gherkin style while the other sports a jaunty, sparkly Santa hat.
The tradition is said to originate from Germany. The way it’s played in many houses is that the pickle is the last ornament hung on the tree. On Christmas morning, the first lucky child to find the pickle gets an extra gift.
In my house, it’s never a large or extravagant gift. One year it was Lego, another year it was a literal jar of pickles.
As the boys got older, we put both pickles on the tree and assigned each it’s own present that the kid won’t get until he finds it. The quirkier the better in my opinion; they’re the most memorable.
The pickles are reminders that the holidays aren’t for large, extravagant giving events. Our holidays are full of laughter and food, friends, and family. Trespasses are forgiven and old grudges are put aside in the spirit of kindness and love. We remember life is too short for holding onto nonsense. It doesn’t matter if you’re right, it matters if you love and are loved in return.
Pickles are funny things. Easy to grow, they are unassuming little crunchy fruits that are eventually transformed into something unique with the application of brine and time. Like holidays, you remember the special ones.
I hope your Christmas pickle is as spicy and sweet as you hoped it would be. Here’s to a bright and shiny new year with awesome traditions that bring you and yours all the joy you can hold. (Spoiler Alert – The pickle present this year is Flex Tape!)