A Pickle for Christmas

Do you have a pickle on your Christmas tree?

It has always been a staple on my family’s tree. Supposedly it’s a symbol of good luck, a German tradition of some sort. I never knew the reason for the pickle growing up; I just knew that whoever found it first on Christmas morning got an extra gift. In my house, this meant one gift for my sister and I to share (my parents were smart enough not to turn that into a real competition).

As we got older, the search for the pickle grew with us. We started searching for it on the tree. Then that got too easy so it was hidden within the family room. Then the whole first floor of our house. Then the WHOLE house.

My favorite years were the ones when my mom hid a whole set of clues around the house that eventually led us to the actual pickle.

Looking back, I can’t remember many of the specific gifts we got. What I remember is how the quest for the pickle made Christmas magical for that much longer each year.


This year was the first year I didn’t return to my Tennessee roots and extended family.

I thought that I would miss out on my favorite traditions and that the holiday might not feel as magical as it has in the past. It was different, but I did find ways to spread the tradition of the pickle with my Canadian families.

First, I shared the legend of the Christmas pickle with my work family at Nelson.

For the second year, I produced the company talent show. For the first time, I stepped onto the stage to show off my talents as a story-teller. Everyone knows that I write plays at Nelson, but I have mostly kept that part of myself separate from my work life. This year I have found more allies and true friends in my co-workers when I open up and share my other career goals.

So I researched the origin of the Christmas pickle and told the tale of what the pickle means to me. As it turns out, no one really knows where it comes from–Spain, Germany, France, Woolworth’s Department Store in a marketing ploy.

There might be a play in that…

Afterwards everyone came up to me to tell their own pickle stories and to exclaim about what a great tradition it is.

Second, I brought the pickle–and a gift–to my first truly Canadian Christmas celebration.

I didn’t tell anyone about it until we had opened all the other presents and were getting ready for a Christmas Day nap. Suddenly, the whole family was up crawling and peering around the room to find the pickle. My mom was SO proud of me for carrying on our family’s traditions.

This year’s Christmas was different than others. It involved more parties, fewer puppies (sadly), even more games, and viewings of Gremlins, Die Hard, and Home Alone instead of Elf. But it was still completely magical.

I may forever be known now as the pickle girl, but I think I might be okay with that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year- I’ll be posting my One Word 2019 very soon.

About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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1 Response to A Pickle for Christmas

  1. Nancy says:

    You were not caught in a pickle this Christmas!! You embraced the magic of Christmas and shared it beautifully with co-workers and family. I am so proud and so enjoyed my Canadian Christmas!❤️🎄

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