birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


The British royal family sure knows how to throw a wedding. There’s nothing like a Prince Charming and his lovely bride in a horse-drawn carriage to make you believe in happily ever after. The occasional wedding is about the only time my family gets together now or the more frequent funeral.

For years we celebrated Thanksgiving together. I started the tradition with Thanksgiving dinner at our house after I got married. My parents came from North Carolina, and my brother and his growing family came from Atlanta. Any stray friend who didn’t have other plans would join us. The meals were chaotic and rarely were eaten at the appointed time, but the food was good.

My mother saw to it that it was. She was the queen bee of Thanksgiving whether she wanted to be or not. She wasn’t intimidated by cooking a turkey or making gravy. She just did it all without a recipe.

When her health started to slip, the family Thanksgiving moved to Atlanta. My mother was still in charge, though. Her resourcefulness was tested two years in a row, when my sister-in-law put the frozen turkey on the deck to thaw. It was mauled by raccoons, we think. We have pictures.

Once the neighbor’s dog ate a pie she left in the garage. My nephew said that all the animals in the neighborhood had their calendars marked for Thanksgiving.

We never seemed to get Thanksgiving together after my mother got sick. We went to her and ate out so she didn’t have to cook, but that only worked a couple of times. I tried to host it once without her help. I didn’t try that again.

After my mother died, we tried Thanksgiving together in Atlanta. Then my dad died. All the children grew up and now have their separate lives and own families. There’s no queen bee to draw us together.


Envy Takes a Holiday