Christmas in the Barrio

The twinkle lights are gleaming, the cookies are iced and on a pretty plate, and there are just 2 hours until the Christmas party my kids and I go to every year.

This is a classy party with elves making crafts, a cookie decorating station, a karaoke Christmas tree and lots of good food to eat. We’ve had the invitation on the fridge for the whole month. It’s the only night-time party the kids get to attend and they love it!

After my busy work week I decided we should watch A Christmas Carol before the party because I wanted to expose the kids to some culture. In other words, my feet hurt and I don’t want to play LEGOs.

About half way through the movie, the ghetto bird shows up. We turn up the volume and push forward. (BTW, a ghetto bird is a police helicopter circling around a lower-than-average-household-income-neighborhood.) We’ve watched a few movies with a ghetto bird in the background, I’m not ashamed to say. Once I held a book club on my porch with the noise roaring on in the sky. We didn’t go inside. We stayed on the porch and yelled. We may look wimpy, but we’ve lived here long enough to not be scared of teenagers with tatooes and baggy pants with guns that may or may not be real.

Movie ends. I rustle Zane into some party clothes while he complains about having to go (because he complains about having to go anywhere if it isn’t his idea). On the way to the car the kids yell at each other to check out the cool shadows the police spotlight makes on the driveway. I notice that the light is not venturing much further than a few houses away.

My mother hen instincts start to kick in. I check the play house for signs of bad guys and tell the kids to hurry–jump in the car already.

We turn out the driveway and there are 3 cops shining lights at my windshield. Roll down my window and ask, “We need to get to a party, which way should I go to get to the freeway?”

“I understand that, ma’am, but you can’t leave this street. You need to go back into your house and lock the doors. There are 3 armed gang members in this immediate area.”

“Ok. (you are hot and I like it when you call me ma’am.) How will we know when we can come out to go to our party?”

“I understand that ma’am. Definitely as long as the helicopter is here, you need to stay indoors.”

“Well, thank you for protecting us. (What time do you get off work?)”

4 hours later the helicopter has flown and cars are again permitted to drive down our little stretch of paradise.

During those 4 hours, we played checkers, we ate crappy left-overs in the fridge, and we had a front row seat to some serious barrio drama! Our house is at the top of a hill and from my bedroom on the second floor we watched the fully-armored officers go, 6 at a time, from house to house around the block with their trusty police dog, guns poised and flashlights searching wildly around every inch of my neighbors’ yards. COOL! and SCARY!

Jeff is away at work tonight. Darla was messaging him constantly. She’d say, “NOW THE COPS ARE BRINGING THEIR DOGS TO SMELL OUT THE ROBBERS!” I’d go behind and assure we were safe saying, “We are making the best of our night in” and innocuous things like that.

I fluctuated between pressing my nose to the window to get a better view and telling my children to stay away from the windows lest they be blown across the room in the cross-fire.

After the police searched our yard they knocked on our back door right as we were finishing up a rousing sing-along to “Last Christmas” on the radio. I licked my lips and answered, “Yes, officer? (I’m in my pajamas)”

“Ma’am, you have boards propped up the on opposite side of your house. Are they always there?”

“Yes. There is a small crawl space under the house. (I’m lost in the sea of your blue eyes. And I bet you are really, REALLY ripped.)”


“We made this (popcorn) for you, but we aren’t allowed outside.”

“Not right now, ma’am. We can’t take that now.”

(They seem pretty tense. Maybe they’ll come back later when this hoopla blows over.)

They smiled and said, “Merry Christmas, guys” to the kids.

I’m going to make a donation to the LAPD right now!

Maybe we missed our party, but this is one holiday extravaganza we won’t soon forget!

I hope yours is just as exciting, and perhaps a bit more peaceful.

Love, Nonnahs