The Pick, a family tradition…


In Arizona, The Pick is the name for the state lottery. In my family, The Pick is synonymous with a family Christmas tradition. About ten years ago, or a few more, my folks decided that they were going to just find Christmas gifts for the kids around the house. I mean, after all, how many wooden bowls and crocks do two people need?

So for Christmas Eve, the traditional family gifting day, they arrange treasured items gathered, and let their children choose the gift they would most like to have from a bevy of items. As things are wont to do, years have tweaked the tradition. First of all, many of their personal treasures were ones the folks didn’t really want to part with, and as time went on, collecting still surpassed the culling process. Then, the kids interjected their own personalities into the festivities. Mom loves a bargained-for treasure, and over time those items became Pick choices, as well. Grandkids have their own pile from which to choose.

This year is the first time, I have actually been present for The Pick. I have lived too far away, though I was always included through phone calls, video, and stories. My items were picked for me and mailed or brought when my sisters visited, but there is nothing like actually being present. The experience didn’t disappoint. For days prior, Mom gathers the items with which she and Dad are willing to part or have been found specifically for The Pick. We all walk into the front room, look at the booty, and Mom tells us the stories. Phones come out for pictures to send to siblings. No one tells what they like.

After dinner on Christmas Eve, numbers are drawn. Choosing is in order, frontwards and then backwards, so number one is first and then last. Kids get to choose from the grandkid stash, but grandkids can’t choose from the kid stuff, and you can change your mind until noon Christmas Day, and pick something that was left. Unchosen items can end up in The Pick for several years into the future. There is no stealing picks. After all, this is definitely not “Dirty Santa.” There seems to have gotten to be a lot of rules.

We all congregate in the room, listen once again to Mom tell about the choices, with Dad embellishing and just plain making stuff up. One of my brothers always finds something to sneak in and to fluster Mom, and he always puts in a trumpet that is a Christmas decoration. Mom is onto him, and this year she wired the trumpet down, but it was discovered in the pile anyway.

Amazingly, I was number one, and I didn’t even cheat. I liked ‘most anything in The Pick, except maybe the old uncle’s shaving set probably with DNA intact and my youngest brother’s diaper gun (that’s another story). Though I got accused of being “smug” after sauntering forward to snatch up the enamel and pewter coffee pot, there were a lot of laughs and teasing, while the snow fell outside, and the temperature dropped to three degrees. I have already got my next year’s pick in mind. I am not telling what it is, though, and I am holding on to my slip of paper that’s my drawn number one. It may come in handy.


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