This is a dangerous time of year. Even the simple things we do can become hazardous. The holidays produce a surge of stress, which leads to an overreaction of every detail no matter how insignificant. A case in point: A week ago I was making dinner. I had Thanksgiving on my mind; with thirty guests arriving in a few days, my mind buzzed with seating arrangements, flowers, wine choices, on top of that, all the food. Periodically the imminent tasks of Christmas would seize my attention, sending a rip current of anxiety through my body. I believe this is called mental multitasking, I just call it mental. Dinner that night was a family favorite dish; chicken breasts topped with Kalamata olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Earlier in the day I had been to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for this coveted dish; I had a jar of Kalamata olives in my hand, but then remembered I had a jar in the cupboard at home, so I put it back.

So there I was perched on the step stool in my kitchen with my arm deep in the cupboard searching for the olives.  No olives to be found. I emptied the contents of the cupboard onto the counter top–still no olives. I then opened the refrigerator and searched through the shelves and side doors with no luck. They had to be there, frustration was rapidly building as I removed every last jar and bottle from the fucking fridge. The thought of having the damn olives in my hand at the store, infuriated me. The dish is tasteless without Kalamata olives! I slammed the door to the fridge and kicked the step stool toward the other side of the kitchen, and proceeded to dig through every shelf, barking expletives. Cans of vegetables smacked the counter top, bags of rice hurtled to the floor, boxes of pasta broke open.

And then, way back in the corner of the top shelf, I saw the olive jar. My hand dove for the prize, I shouted, “Fucking olives!”. At the same moment the step stool slid out from under me.  The olive jar went flying over my head as my back hit the counter top and I landed on my butt on the kitchen floor. When I came to, my husband was standing over me asking me if I was all right. “Where are the olives?” I mumbled. “All over the floor,” he said, “along with everything else.” I did a quick check of my back and limbs, nothing seemed broken, so I hobbled to my feet. We argued momentarily about dinner, but then, he slowly backed away with a look of horror on his face. “What?” I slurred. “Your eyes, they’re like glowing red.” I grinned, snapping my teeth, then proceeded to pick up each and everyone of the bewitching olives, rinsed them off, and finished making dinner.

Wishing olive of you a calm holiday season!