Finding the Pickle: The Art of My Family Traditions


Beatrice Byrd, Editor

It takes years of expertise and practice, combined with outstanding vision, and a will to succeed, for one to be successful when finding a pickle in a Christmas tree. Let me explain.

Family traditions, no matter how common, tend to resurface this time of year. It is around the holidays when the annual screening of your favorite Christmas movie takes place, or when the traditional family recipe is dug out of the cookbook. 

Oftentimes, my family is referred to as anything but “normal.” Between the wild colors we paint our walls and the odd decorations that are hung on them, it is no wonder that our traditions can sometimes be marked strange as well. 

So here is a look into my family’s holiday trademarks, and why we execute them every year.

The first one has to do with our decorations. Our festive look is nothing short of grand, due to the large amount of trees we set up. Our collection is made complete with no fewer than four Christmas trees every year, including three synthetics (white, pink, and fiber-optic) and a traditional real tree,  standing together front and center in our living room. 

The next few traditions are all done by me and my sister. Every year, on December 23, I schedule out a timeline for what December 24 will look like. It includes all sorts of activities from what time we eat breakfast, to what movies we will watch,  to what dances we will learn. 

This year, I’m hoping to produce a two-woman version of The Nutcracker Ballet. I think it’s going to be revolutionary, due to all the time at home I’ve had to practice it. The only thing we’re missing is advanced dancing skills. 

I schedule our day because I get supremely excited for Christmas, and without it, the day seems to tirelessly drag on, and I fall into a lying-on-the-floor type of boredom. 

The final, and perhaps most notorious, family tradition in which we indulge is what we call “Finding the Pickle.” Ever since I can remember, my mom has hidden a pickle ornament in one of the Christmas trees for me and my sister to try and find. Whoever finds it first gets to open the first present. 

Now, while the prize itself has gradually gotten less important over the years, the stakes are just as high as the first time the pickle was hidden. It is no longer a present-opening competition; it is a bragging rights reward, and it gets serious.

I can remember many times when I was pushed into a Christmas tree because I had screamed “I found it,” and yet failed to grab it. “You shouldn’t announce your winnings before you have the pickle in your hands,” retorted my sister, Naomi, defending herself despite the fact that she already has the advantage, since I’m allergic to the tree.

Strategies such as laying on my back and looking up through the branches in attempts to find it faster only ended with pine needles and dust in my eyes, after Naomi proceeded to slyly shake the tree in hopes my parents wouldn’t see. 

No matter how many scrapes, scratches, and bruises I’ve acquired through this tradition, I’m always set and ready to go again by the next year. So, as December 25 approaches, I will be practicing like an Olympian to earn some bragging rights for myself this year, while also enjoying the other oddities of the Byrd family traditions.