The holidays were fast approaching and Lorraine, the longest continuous resident of 44 Cherry Street in Black Mountain, was both happy and sad at the same time. She loved the holiday season because the energy was so positive. People seemed to remember that there were others in the world beside themselves, and they came out of their safe little homes and thought about and even performed service projects for the less fortunate. Also, and more importantly, this was the time for shopping and gift-receiving. Lorraine loved getting gifts. And who wouldn’t? She especially liked gifts in small robin’s egg blue boxes from a particular jewelry store in NY. She was sad because she had not received such a gift in a long, long time.

Because she had been robbed years before, she now kept all her valuable jewelry in the safe deposit box at Asheville Savings Bank. Every Friday she dressed up in her favorite Eileen Fisher outfits and paid a visit to her jewelry in the tiny room at the bank where the safe deposit boxes were housed. She brought a small pocket mirror with her so she could try on her baubles and see how great they looked on her. Then she carefully wrapped each jewel in soft cotton and replaced it in the big box.

Also, the approach of the holidays reminded Lorraine of her large family in Texas. She had a tenuous relationship with her five sisters based on political differences, but holidays also meant family. She called her sister Belinda, the least Fascist in the extended family, and invited herself for Thanksgiving. Belinda was thrilled and told Lorraine that she was most welcome and that she would arrange for the rest of the family to join them.

Now Lorraine had her work cut out for her. She had so much work to do before she could leave on her trip. She had to lose ten pounds in the next week. She had to shop for a few new outfits. She had to have her hair done, to get a manicure, to get a pedicure, and to fold and pack her clothing with some tissue paper. She had to buy some tissue paper. Oh, and as it was holiday time, she also had to bring a few locally made gifts for the family. It was at times like this that she wished she were a man. Men didn’t worry about their weight or their clothes. It took them just five minutes to throw a few tee shirts and blue jeans in a bag, jump in the shower, and they were ready to go. And they didn’t think about gifts for the family. That was a woman’s bailiwick.

Lorraine decided to run down to Tho Old Depot Gallery to get a few gifts for her sisters. The gallery is a nonprofit whose profits are donated to fund art-related projects in the local schools. Lorraine thought that the kind of homey crafts they carried would appeal to her sisters, and she also thought she could probably convince them that she had made these gifts. They would like that.

As she peeked into the window of The Old Depot, she saw a small group of people sitting in a circle around a frame supporting a quilt in process of being made. She had heard that their was a witches coven somewhere in Black Mt., and she had wanted to get in touch with her supernatural side, so her heart quickened as she opened the door. These people might be witches! They looked very serious. “Do I need a secret password or something? Am I interrupting?” she asked tentatively.

Sarah Sunshine seemed to be the leader of this coven, and Lorraine had long been an admirer of her pottery. Sarah spoke up, “Please come in. If you come in, though, you are sworn to secrecy.”

Lorraine shivered a little. This was a coven after all! “May I join you all?” she asked breathlessly.

Sarah answered a bit surprised, “Are you codependent? This is our local Codependents’ Anonymous group.”

Desperate to belong to anything, Lorraine said, “Oh yes. I’m codependent and chocoholic. May I join y’alls group?”

Sarah instructed Lorraine to pull a chair up to the quilt frame. “We are doing the check-in now,” she explained.

Lorraine settled in as Yvonne, a cute woman with neat salt-and-pepper hair, began her check-in. “I am from New Jersey, but I moved to Florida after college. It was there I met my husband.”

Fred, another member of the group, perked up. “I’m from South Florida! Where did you guys meet?”

“Actually, we met at Disney!” she answered.

“What?” screeched Sarah? “How did you meet? I mean were you lost or something? And he helped you get found?”

“Sort of,” answered Yvonne. “I had gotten a job for the summer at Disney, and I walked around dressed as Cinderella. Bob was the Prince. By the end of the summer, we were engaged for real, and he didn’t even need to track me down with a lost shoe.”

Lorraine thought about this for a minute. There was still hope she would find her Prince Charming. Lorraine had better skin and hair than Yvonne any day, so her chances of finding love were pretty good. She felt better already. This group was going to be good for her.