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Odd traditions may bring us good luck

I ran across a weird Christmas ornament the other day: a pickle.

Not a real pickle. It was made of glass. I thought it would be something nice to give to my friend Lizzie for her tree, kind of like the pound of butter I gave to my buddy Wayne last Thanksgiving (everyone needs butter for something at Thanksgiving).

“What’s this,” asked Lizzie.

“I think it’s a pickle,” I said.

“Zucchini, this will be my Christmas zucchini for my tree.”

I got on the Internet to find out why there would be such a thing as a Christmas pickle.

From what I gathered, the Christmas pickle tradition goes back to Germany years ago. A pickle would be the last decoration hung on the tree. The kid who found the thing among the pine needles was blessed with a special present, good luck for the upcoming year and, probably, smelly fingers.

The weird Christmas ornament made me think of lucky charms and things we do to bring us luck and good fortune.

For instance, there was the New Mexico state policeman who passed in front of me as I sat at the intersection of Seventh and Pile not too long ago. A medicine bag was hanging from his rearview mirror.

The medicine bag is a Native American thing. It’s typically a leather pouch that holds things to give the owner protection, increase personal power, hinder enemies, stuff like that. It stuck out because I really hadn’t seen one hanging from anyone’s rearview mirror. I think the last time I saw one was probably in the movies.

I’ve seen religious things, dream catchers and family pictures hanging from rearviews.

Thinking of the police, I was familiar with a family who never told each other “I love you.” All the men in the family were in law enforcement. They thought if they said those three words it was an omen they would be hurt or lose their life on the job. I always thought that was a sad kind of tradition to try to bring good fortune.

I don’t know of anyone who carries a lucky rabbit’s foot around anymore. I think the animal rights people may have put a stop to selling those. I can remember bins of the things made into key chains at stores when I was a kid.

I have a real four-leaf clover in my wallet. When I was a kid I could find those things every day. When I got older I couldn’t. For one thing, out here there aren’t that many patches of clover, but I think as a grownup I wouldn’t take the time to look. I found the one I have in a patch of clover in Little Rock, Ark. I had just started my truck-driving job and figured I needed all the luck I could get.

I carry a crystal in my pocket. I bought it at one of those bazaars they have from time to time at Cannon Air Force Base. I heard they put off good vibes. I figure I can use all the good vibes I can get.

There are lots of charms and things we do to bring us good fortune and such. Now I can add the Christmas pickle to that list.

Or the Christmas zucchini.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:

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