A Love Of Olives




By Dobie Maxwell –

Thanksgiving week is once again upon us, and it always reminds of my wacky Aunt Charlene. Every family has their share of loony tunes, nutzos and flakazoid fringe dwellers, but my family is of extremely high pedigree in the dented can department. Holidays are when they all surface.

Aunt Charlene was ‘out there’ to say the least, but for whatever reason she seemed to gravitate in my direction. I think she liked me, but all these years later I’m still not sure. Maybe it was because deep down I’m just as out there as she was and she could sense it, or maybe she was just lonely.

Whatever the case, Aunt Charlene had a lifelong love affair with green olives. I’ve never seen anyone before or since who loved green olives like she did. You know the ones – they come in a jar pitted and have a piece of red pimento inside. She’d eat those things like Popeye ate spinach.

Everyone else in our family found those things to be repulsively disgusting – myself included. But nobody told Aunt Charlene, and she got it in her head that I loved them too. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I couldn’t stand them, and it eventually got out of control. Each holiday meal she brought a bigger jar than the previous one, and I had to pretend I was just as excited as she was.

I knew she meant no harm, so I played along with it. I’d eat one or two in front of her, but after a while I’d grab handfuls and toss them right into the garbage. That made it worse, as it made her think I was really into them and the next year she’d bring a bigger jar. I couldn’t stop the cycle.

Aunt Charlene is gone now, but the memory of her love of olives lives on. I’m just thankful the pilgrims didn’t eat liver, or that would have become a ‘tradition’ as well. Just because something is done over and over again, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. I’ll be thankful my own way, thank you.

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