Happy Christmas Eve, Olives!
It’s not a family gathering without a very special ingredient that sits on our table. Since before I can remember, a beautiful bowl of black olives has always been a part of all family celebrations. You might ask, Black Olives? What’s so special about Black Olives? Well, the story goes a little like this…
My Pop-Pop, my mother’s father, grew up outside of New York City with many brothers and sisters. Their family was very poor and most holiday celebrations were sparse with presents and goodies. My Pop-Pop’s family always received baskets from local churches during the holidays. His mother would use the ingredients to create a feast for the family. There was one item that Grandma Patak would not use and no others in the family wanted… Black Olives. At a young age, Pop-Pop, learned that the jar of black olives went untouched until he unlocked the yumminess of the olives. For years Pop-Pop would look forward to the basket and that one jar that was all his. This was true Christmas.
Well, Pop-Pop met Mom-Mom, they had three children, those children had amazing children. We would all gather at their house on Christmas Eve. The memories are so clear and wonderful. They feel like just yesterday. Every year, under the tree, everyone would have a wrapped can of olives from Pop-Pop. In return, everyone would give Pop-Pop a can of olives. Each year we would hear the story of how even a can of olives can give you the feeling of Christmas. Black Olives are a part of who we are. Each of Pop-Pop’s granddaughters shared a black olive with him before they walked down the aisle to be married. Pop-Pop taught William how to place an olive on the tip of each finger and then eat every one of them off. It’s all about the olives.
As I write this Happy Christmas Eve blog, there are tears and a heart full of love and memories of a man who always had the spirit of Christmas. As a family, this is our first Christmas Eve without our Pop-Pop. I know my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop are having the Christmas Eve of their lives with Jesus. Tonight as we place the dish of olives on the table, this year in my Mom-Mom’s dish, I will remember how a simple olive can give so much joy.
Happy Christmas Eve to You All!- Amanda (or A.J. as Pop-Pop would say)