It all began with the turkey. I bought a fresh one that year, much to the chagrin of my mother, who considers that turkeys which aren't subjected to deep freezing are unhygienic. So well before the party got started there was yammering about that with my mother haranguing me about unsafe turkeys and me replying that fresher was better and we didn't have time for the thing to defrost anyway.
Then there was the guest list. Present were me; my best friend; my sister; my mother, temporarily separated from my father; Betty, also temporarily separated from her husband; newly divorced Helen and one of her grown daughters; and Priscilla, a sort of chronic invalid who had been adopted by Helen and my mother as some sort of reclamation project.
Priscilla is one of those people whose lives consist of one sad sack story after another: Chronic illness, a good-for-nothing husband, ungrateful parents, financial difficulties. At first you feel sorry for her; then you realize that Priscilla, in addition to being just about the last person on earth whom you'd want to invite to a fun party, is a master manipulator. She kept my mother and Helen running about for a year-- chauffeuring her to appointments, lending her money, giving her food--until they'd finally had enough. But this was about the midway point to their madness. And the gals, troubled though they were, were determined to have a nice Thanksgiving.
The festive meal was dominated by the Priscillian world of woe, as I recall, but the food was good and we ate our fill and retired to the living room sated. I'm not sure of the sequence of events here, but I believe that straight away after the meal, Betty decided that now would be the ideal time to draft her living will. Out came a standard contract and Betty got down to brass tacks. By all means pull the plug if she could only breathe through a respirator, but what if she could breathe on her own? Should she OK pulling out the feeding tube?
My friend and I wandered off to the family room and turned on the TV just in time for the local news. The lead story concerned a certain brand of fresh turkey bought at our local supermarket that had caused a rash of salmonella poisoning.
I suppose my mother was thankful for the chance to say I told you so.