Every evening when the weather was cold, Isaac left out a saucer of milk on the counter. Marianne and Charlie both asked about it a few times. He told them it was for passing hobgoblins who often migrated this time of year.
He really wasn’t sure whether they believed him or not, but they accepted it as a seasonal part of his bedtime routine. When the leaves changed colors and the air grew crisp, it was time to take out the little white saucer. They smiled when they saw it.
“It is getting a little chilly out,” Marianne said.
“It’s officially fall now,” Charlie agreed. “Dad’s leaving milk out on the counter.”
Some mornings the milk was gone. Some mornings it wasn’t. He never knew when hobgoblins or even brownies or fairies would be passing through. So, he always made sure to leave out the milk.
One morning, the milk was gone, and next to the saucer was a tiny pair of black and white striped mittens. Isaac, who had been reaching for the saucer, paused and looked around. No one in sight.
Perhaps they were just waiting for him to leave the room before coming back for their mittens. He quickly washed the saucer and put it away. Then he left the room for a little while. He could eat breakfast later.
But later, when Charlie and Marianne were ready for breakfast and they all went into the kitchen, the little mittens were still there. Charlie picked them up and stuck his fingertips into the mittens, stretching them out of shape. “I know Aunt Doris still things I’m little, but this is ridiculous.”
Marianne laughed. “Aunt Doris didn’t send those. They look like doll mittens. I wonder where they came from.”
“Some hobgoblins must have left them,” Isaac said. “It’s the right time of year for them, and the mittens were right by the empty saucer this morning.”
Marianne smiled brightly and nodded. “That’s right, the hobgoblins. And they report to Santa, don’t they? So you’d better be good, Charlie.”
“I thought it was elves that reported to Santa.” Charlie frowned. “And I’m always good. When am I not good? I don’t need goblins watching me.”
“Maybe we could bake cookies for the goblins later.” Marianne started shuffling through the box of cookie cutters. “They’d have to be little cookies, of course.”
Charlie sat up straighter. “Cookies? Sure. We could bake some for the goblins and some for us, right?”
“They’re hobgoblins,” Isaac corrected, but they were too busy hunting through the cookie cutters, and he needed to leave for work. He let it be.
That evening, he left the mittens and cookies by the saucer of milk before bed. After reading to Charlie, he joined Marianne in the living room. She looked up from her book when he sat down.
“Goblin mittens? That was such a cute idea. Where did you find them?” she asked.
“Hobgoblin mittens. They were there by the saucer.” Isaac shrugged.
Marianne laughed. “I see. Well, I look forward to seeing if they leave anything behind tomorrow.”
The next morning, there was a little thank you note by the saucer. The mittens and cookies were gone. Marianne and Charlie started leaving small things for the hobgoblins from time to time, and the hobgoblins always left a thank you note. However, they never left behind any more mittens.