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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Koreatown Christmas

As far as I know, American churches have Christmas Eve service, leaving Christmas Day free for family gatherings. Korean churches have service on Christmas Day. Growing up, we’d wake up Christmas morning and reluctantly get dressed in our Sunday best. We knew our friends were still cozy in their beds or opening Christmas presents but we had to get into dresses and pantyhose. We would longingly look at the gifts under the tree before packing into the minivan and heading into Koreatown.

At church, us kids would have to bow to all the grown-ups we saw, chanting,”Meh-ree Ku-ree-suh-mah-suh.” Our parents would nudge us into the pew of their choosing, usually up at the front. Sandwiched between Mom and Dad, we would scan the sanctuary to spot others who were also sandwiched uncomfortably between their parents for an hour of hymns and a sermon in Korean. Once service was over, there was more bowing and greetings of “Meh-ree Ku-ree-suh-mah-suh.” We usually stood around squinting at the sun while we waited for our parents to come find us, hands free of the socks, neckties, and chocolate they passed out to friends and church staff, but now full of socks, neckties, and chocolate they received from friends and church staff.

We always had Chinese for lunch after Christmas service because, even in Koreatown, Chinese restaurants were the only ones open that day. No matter which Chinese restaurant we picked, it was always packed with other Korean families who had beat us there after Christmas service at whatever Koreatown church they attended. A smattering of Latino diners would look up curiously at us Koreans dressed in our fancy Christmas getups. After a mad dash of ordering and eating, and our bellies full of greasy noodles and Kung Pao chicken, we would finally head back to the suburbs. At home, we would immediately change into our pajamas and sweats, then tear through gifts like crazed animals. My dad would complain that we wasted perfectly good money, time, and energy wrapping the gifts so nicely. My mom would tell him to stop tearing through the wrapping and carefully collect the paper and ribbons to be used for next year’s Christmas gifts.

Summer Solstice

Bergie Bowl