“Cookies up front,” said Monica, as she breezed past my office, “Go see! I made them for Halloween!”

Obligingly, I got up and wandered down the hall, rounded the corner to Monica’s domain…and stopped, dumbfounded. Spread out on two rolling carts was the most gorgeous array of decorated Halloween cookies I think I’ve ever seen. There were at least a thousand cookies on those carts, and all I could think was, “wow.”

My stupefaction apparently amused my co-workers. “Ahhh!” said a knowing voice, “This must be your first Halloween Cookie Day.”

As I stared at enough baked goods to send an entire city into a sugar coma, people began wandering in. “Cookie Day! I see she’s added some new varieties–those yellow ones are new!” “Oh, Monica did the ghosts again!” “Has she changed the way she’s decorating the skeletons?” “Don’t grab all the peanut butter cookies, Peter, save some for the rest of us.”

I don’t think Peter was endangering the peanut butter cookie supply–there were maybe five dozen in the pan. Monica had quite possibly shaped and baked and iced enough cookies for the entire company. And their families.

And she came bustling up behind me, beaming. “Holy cow, Monica. Did you MAKE all these?”

“Of course,” she said, smiling, “It takes about four days. The pumpkins and eyeballs are actually coconut candy, not cookies, and don’t eat the other eyeballs–they’re for blowing bubbles. I just put them there for effect.”

There are all kinds of folk in the world, and Monica’s kind, apparently, nurtures. Thank heavens for them, there aren’t enough of ’em in the whole wide world.

Monica takes care of anything anybody needs in a heartbeat, makes newcomers feel warmly welcomed, is just generally a huggable sort…and she makes cookies.

She comes from New Orleans, where she used to help run Mardi Gras parades, and she was pretty much run out of town by Hurricane Katrina. Monica settled in Portland, and has apparently dedicated her life to keeping her co-workers well-supplied with treats and fully aware of the season. Her domain is stuffed with flying witches, ghosts, silvered cobwebs and other spooky paraphernalia, but the cookies obviously take center stage.

I can personally vouch for her peanut butter cookies (they’re incredible, and they have some kind of peanut butter fudgy stuff on top that’s probably slipping 1000 calories of fat into your veins while you’re smacking your lips). I’m staying strictly down in my office today in case they–or the couple dozen other varieties up there–start calling my name.

“Good grief,” I told my boss, “Does she do this often?”

“Oh, every year she does the Halloween cookie spread, it’s a big occasion,” Shelby assured me, “Why do you think I told you to bring your camera?”

“And just wait until you see what she does for Christmas!”