AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: 10/21/14 8:22 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog, Holidays
It started with the best of intentions. It’s the week before Halloween. We’ve been to the Gust Pumpkin Farm no less than five times. We have a herd of pumpkins decorating our house. So, the next step seemed obvious. Time to carve those puppies up.
Afterall, it’s a tradition.
When I was a kid my parents would carve a pumpkin for each of their children. I have memories of perching myself on a kitchen chair while my dad used an electric knife–later replaced with a jigsaw…he’s a power tool kind of guy–while my mom rolled up her sleeves gutting the innerds into the kitchen sink. I’d bark orders about the shape of eyes, or the slant of a smile and regardless of how I wanted it to look, it always kind of looked the same. Triangle eyes. A toothy grin. And if one of them was feeling extra crafty, a nose.
Of course, all of this occurred the hour before trick-or-treating so they could be promptly lit for the onslot of trick-or-treaters.
When Drew and Ryan came of age I tried to replicate the process. I’ll never forget thinking it was oh-so-simple. First, we’d carve. Next, we’d illuminate. Then we’d get into our costumes. Finally, we’d enjoy the chile from the crock-pot before skipping our way out the door–all Norman Rockwell style.
Then reality set in.
Turns out carving a pumpkin without the help of a partner slows the process…a lot. And, gutting a pumpkin with a kid who has a super sensitive sense of smell is less than optimal. And because the process was taking longer than the eight minute attention spans of my sons, the whole ordeal quickly became a chore while the boys tried to impale each other with a light saber and a ninja sword. (I swear we bought costumes solely based on the weapons that came with them.)
Before I knew it, the entire process turned into one giant debacle that ended with me screaming something along the lines of, “fuck it”; throwing the half carved pumpkins on the porch; and grabbing a solo cup filled to the rim with wine to accompany my demon children while they pillaged for candy.
I swore I’d never attempt pumpkin carving again.
Then came the second cohort of kids.
Now let me preface this with something that I get…a lot. As all of my readers know, the ages of our children are quite unique. It’s not that having a 20 and 17 year old is anything special. Neither is having three—soon to be four—kids under the age of six. But when a stranger asks how old our kids are and I render the answer–the entire answer— they all have the very same look of bewilderment. I can practically read their minds and as a result feel compelled to explain that indeed, this is not a second marriage…they all have the same father; and I usually add something about how we are really, really bad at timing.
Once the stranger collects themselves enough to form a sentence, many of them have the very same comment. “That would be so cool. Like a do-over.” Which, is true in a way. We’ve already managed to get one out the door and into college and another will fly the coop next year. As it currently stands it appears we managed not to screw up our first two kids but there are definitely things we’re doing differently this time around. Some of the do-overs are major. We’ve chosen a different educational setting for our younger kids and we realize now that over scheduling a child in activities/sports really…REALLY…doesn’t make a damn bit of difference when college application time rolls around. Some of the differences are more trivial. Like trying to rekindle the tradition of carving pumpkins.
Turns out some of the stuff that stunk the first time around…still stinks.
Fast forward to this past Sunday afternoon. After doing some Pinterest research and finding a way to “preserve” a pumpkin to keep it from rotting before Halloween, I decided that my first mistake, oh-so-many-years-ago, was trying to get the carving done on the actual day of Halloween. Now that I knew how to keep the pumpkin fresh for a week or two, I could devote the time to the process needed to make it stress-free and fun.
So off to the farm we went to pick out three pumpkins for the deed. We decided on the four dollar variety (which, by the way, would cost no less than $15 at the super market. I LOVE the Gusts!). They weren’t to big yet big enough to easily, so I thought, get the deed done.
When we arrived home I covered the kitchen table, put the girls to work “washing” the pumpkins, and prepared my carving utensils.
Now… here’s the thing. Remember how I said my dad used tools? I think there may have been some brilliance in that because all I had was the $3.99 carving kit from Meijer which I quickly realized was like trying to cut a pumpkin with a spork. That’s when the frustration started. As the girls sat there patiently waiting for me to work my magic I quickly abandoned the spork for a kitchen knife. And, after a few more minutes my plans for a Pinterest inspired templates were aborted for the triangle eyes, and toothy grins of my childhood. And, after about fifteen more minutes I realized the girls had lost interest, and there I sat. Alone.
To which I asked myself, “Why the hell am I doing this?”
My plan was to carve a jack-o-lantern for each of my kids. I stopped at three. Even though none of them are intricate, they do make me smile because the girls actually do love them. More importantly those pumpkins have taught me something important. I know now that there are some things that I didn’t do so well the first time around that I still can’t do so well fifteen years later. And that’s okay.
Most of it doesn’t matter, anyways.
If you are looking for the recipe for pumpkin seeds that I talked about on 101.5 The River click HERE.
If you are looking for tips on how to preserve a carved pumpkin click HERE.