What's the one Must Have item for your Christmas stocking?
For my husband, it's baseball cards. His mom...er, Santa Claus...always put a pack or two of baseball cards in the toe of his stocking when he was a child. When we got married, the task transferred over to me.
For William, it looks like it's going to be a small Lego set of some sort. I think this is the third year in a row he's gotten something Lego in his stocking, and I guess that makes it a tradition, right?
For me, it's olives. Yeah, you didn't see that one coming, did you? Not unless you are my friend Giles from church, who is the only other person on the planet who absolutely must receive olives in his Christmas stocking. Frankly, I'm amazed that that it's not just me.
And I actually don't know how it started for me. I just know that from the time I was very small, Santa's little red-haired elf (that would be my mom) always put a can of black olives in my Christmas stocking. Back then, I derived great pleasure from shoving my fingers into the little hollow olives so it would look like I had big swollen black fingernails. So appetizing, no? Since I got my own can of olives, no one could tell me to cut it out either. They were all for me, for me! for me! so I could do whatever I wanted with them. Ah, the good old days.
When I got married, the chore of buying olives and making sure they found their way into my stocking fell to my husband. That got tricky when we were flying back and forth between California and Tennessee at Christmas. Since we weren't allowed to even carry water bottles onto the plane in the post-9/11 era, there wasn't much chance that David could get away with sneaking a heavy glass jar of olives in his carry-on bag. So my mother-in-law or my brother-in-law had to step in and make a last-minute run to Kroger to scoop up a jar. I love that they all did this, even though I know they must have thought it was utterly absurd.
And yes, it was a jar by then. My taste got fancier as I got older, and a plain old can of generic black olives was no longer quite as desirable. Santa and his elves took to buying jars of Kalamata olives. Last year, I even got TWO jars. That was all good. One jar even featured olives that were stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes. I'm feeling a little dreamy, just remembering. But still, every year, there was always, always, always a container of olives. Of some sort. There had to be. And there was.
This year, my poor husband got a indescribable (trust me on this) case of stomach flu on December 22. He even stayed home from work on Dec. 23, which should tell you something because it practically requires an Act of Congress to convince him to call in sick. But he managed to somehow get to the store and buy a jar of olives (green this year, interestingly) and put them in my stocking on Christmas Eve. Along with an iTunes card, it was all I got, but it was what mattered. Don't get me wrong, I love the olives themselves, but what I love most is that someone loves me enough to humor me every year and indulge me in my quirky little affinity. David also puts ice cubes in my orange juice, even though he also thinks that's weird. That's love, kids.
What about you? Does Santa always bring you lip balm or a grapefruit or slippers or what?