So have these plates. They have turkeys on them. Not happy little cartoon turkeys. Realistic looking ones.

Service for twelve, to be exact, plus an enormous platter.

You may ask yourself, “What is Ann doing with these dishes? They don’t quite seem like her.” And you’d be right.

“The pattern is called King of the Barnyard.”

My dad always gets a little braggy this time of year, especially when it comes to the plates. “We haven’t been able to learn much more about it.”

My sister-in-law’s boyfriend loads his fork with turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes. “Have you tried the internet?” he asks, helpfully.

“Oh yes, we looked all over the internet and couldn’t find a thing.”

I don’t really remember how far back the turkey plates go. Did they belong to my grandparents? My great-grandparents? Or did my mother pick these out herself? It seems impossible. My mother had reasonably good taste.

On the other hand, she also came from the Age of Stuff, an era when it was normal to have different dishes for every season. At least it seemed normal to me, because that’s how it was growing up.

Every year on Thanksgiving, the turkey plates would appear. The next day, they would be gone, and the cupboards would be filled, as if by magic, with the holiday dishes – red rimmed plates and mugs with little snowmen and sledders tumbling and sliding down hills.

My parents had a system. On Black Friday, the house would be transformed. The last year my dad lived in the family home, he showed me his trick. He kept all the nails taped to the backs of the items he wanted to hang.

All he had to do was take down the picture frame that hung in the hall the other eleven months of the year, find the hole he’d put there 35 years before, insert the nail and hang the wreath.

See? Magic!

Now the plates have come to me. The turkey plates, anyway. Dad wasn’t ready to let go of the Christmas ones. He called me on Black Friday to report that he’d spent the afternoon unpacking them and carting the 11 month plates to his storage unit, deep in the bowels of his senior apartment building.

The turkey plates, though – those are a kind of mantle. They come with a responsibility, not only to wash them by hand, but to tell their story over dinner, your table packed tight with familiar, happy faces, all smiling politely at your special plates and their half-remembered provenance.