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

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The Trick of Treats

“We have a request” she texted me last week.

“Even though the kids don’t trick-or-treat anymore, we still want to have the holiday.”

I smiled to myself. No, I grinned. It made me that happy.

Then it made me a little cross—I don’t have the energy!

Then, I smiled again--there’s always take out.

Then it made me sad—I have that damn meeting! I don’t get Halloween at all this year.

I texted my reply—“YAY! But it can’t be ON Halloween. I won’t be here. BOO!”

So, Halloween will become “the autumn celebration” this year, with my Godchildren and their mom and dad, and me and Dan. A small gathering around some yummy food that keeps, and breaks, a thirty-year tradition. And, there will be CANDY—of a chocolate kind!

* * *

My kids are 30 and more now—and 3000 miles away (sniff!). And, every year since they were tiny, Halloween has meant dinner and friends, along with passing out candy at the door. Sometimes it was just a few, and sometimes a houseful—and, always fun and funny, full of costumes and laughter and stories. And, did I mention the candy?

There will be candy—of a CHOCOLATE kind.

You see, our street has a “rep”—though I’ve never actually heard it told. The doorbell rings—well, the knocker knocks (the doorbell died years ago)—first about 5:30, and never stops til the lights are off and we’ve moved to the back of the house. Sometimes the knocks go on after that—“there must still be candy here!”

Somehow, it became a street that had to be traversed, not just by the neighbor kids, but scores of trick-or-treaters from all around. Sometimes it seems they’re bused in from Orange County and LA. It’s a river of kids, not a stream—with, mostly, strong parental shores keeping the flow on course. Must be the parallel river of chocolate—our street does give the good stuff! Maybe the “rep” is as simple as that: “good stuff!”

We have a large proportion of teens in the mix—mostly under-costumed with surly mumbles where bright smiling pleas should be. Probably that’s because we’re just a couple blocks from the high school, and our street is a main drag to and from each day.

One of my standing goals is to make those surly faces break a smile; it’s easier with the boys than the girls, surprisingly. Boys start surly with downcast eyes, but fall immediately to my marm-ish “smile” command.

The girls, on the other hand, are giggly entanglements when they arrive at the door. My gaze and grin are resented interference to whatever inner séance they’re experiencing. You can see it in the flash of their mascara-crusted eyes.

“Back off bitch! THIS is my friend.”

I used to dress up too—most years I would be a witch. Where is that hat and wig? I’ve always wanted to be Elvira. But I never saw the point of sex appeal at the door with toddlers and teens panting for candy, not pulp.

One year, when I was about 8-years old (a totally different tradition set), my father and mother went to a parents’ party (that my accordion teacher threw for them). My dad went dressed as a (very) sexy lady. I was shocked to breathlessness. He was way prettier than my mother ever was! And, talk about mascara-encrusted lashes, and – truly – ruby lips and rosy cheeks! And I don’t know how they gave him boobs—but BOOBS there were, under my mother’s most feminine blouse. They, my mom and dad, were beside themselves with glee at their creation.

He was the hit of the party. They talked about it for weeks. I wish I had a picture—it was, and is, one of the happiest of my childhood memories. Maybe it is part of why I like Halloween so much, and still want it.

Even though “I don’t have the energy”.

We’re doing the “autumn celebration” next weekend.

Maybe, I’ll dig out the hat and wig. Maybe, I’ll push up MY (67-year old) boobs and find an Elvira slink. It will embarrass my goddaughter and godson to no end! Maybe our husbands too!

That could be fun—along with the candy, of a decidedly CHOCOLATE kind!

* * *

And then there is New Year's Day and the Rose Parade with cinnamon rolls and bacon-wrapped street wieners, with our other Goddaughter, and our now God-granddaughter, and my friend Lisa ... OH, and … Easter egg hunts … And birthdays … and ... However could I have thought, “what about holidays?”

First-Born

Saying Too Much