It was twenty-five years ago that I started my new tradition of actually being grateful. That year was set to be a good year. I had just bought my first house. My sister was sharing it with me. A group of her 'friends' were staying with us for the holiday feasting. I don't know exactly when things started to go south, but sometime during the night before Thanksgiving one of Deb's psychotic episodes took hold. She left the house. Sometime around 3 a.m., I was awakened by someone who said she just took off. Naked. Down the street.
My house was not in a particularly good neighborhood. It was mixed residential - commercial, with the residential part being borderline vagrant. The 'friends' had been especially vocal in their displeasure about that. One woman angrily admonished me for not warning her that I lived in an integrated neighborhood. I told her that if it weren't for me, it wouldn't be integrated (bitch!). At any rate, it wasn't an area to walk around at night. Or naked. I set out find her, but had no luck. Sometime around daylight Deb came home. She had found her way to the tattoo parlor nearby. She was with a group of very rough looking men and women. She had on scruffy clothes. By the mercy of whatever gods protect us, the tattoo parlor just so happened to also be home to an all night AA/NA biker group. They knew why she was there. They took care of her. They had seen her before. Knew where she lived. Safe.
Since she was in a full blown psychosis, I took her to the local facility for dealing with that. They took her in. They sent me home. Her 'friends' were gone by then.
There I was with a twenty pound turkey and all the fixins. I had taken out my grandmothers 100 year old Haviland china. The old silver made by my great grandfather. The good stuff. So, in the great pretense of having some higher purpose, I started cooking. Mostly, I was angry, frustrated, afraid for Deb and what life trying to care for her would be. I cooked that turkey. Stuffing. Dressing. Sweet potatoes. Two kinds of pie. Ambrosia. Green beans. Asparagus. Ice cream for the pie. By the time it was done, I didn't even want to eat it.
I was about to cry when there was a knock on the door. The local yard man, Deacon Eddie. "Ma'am. If it wouldn't bother you none, could you please spare me a plate of food? It smelled so good." I invited him to come in and join me, but he didn't want to do that. Just the plate of food please, ma'am. So, I grabbed one of Nana's extra large fine antique china plates, loaded it up with turkey and fixins. Then I loaded up another plate with pie. Covered it all with foil. Deacon Eddie left with quite a smile on his face and gave me his eternal gratitude.
I started to find the tupperware to put it all away, when there was a knock on the door. I didn't know the man, but he looked thin and harmless enough. "Ma'am. Could I have a plate of food, too, please, ma'am?" You bet. I loaded him up. He walked off down the street smiling.
Pretty soon there was a line going out the gate and down the road. All twelve place settings were filled up, covered up and sent off. I put away the tupperware. I was tired. I fell asleep. I slept all night. When I went outside the next day, there by the door, was a box. In the box, cleaned and neatly packed were all twelve place settings. Not a nick. Not a scratch on a one of them.