I love Halloween by almost all counts. The candy, the costumes, the horror, and the cool autumn evenings are all aspects I really enjoy. However, two years ago I quickly revealed for the first time a part of Halloween I don’t particularly care for.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate pumpkins in general. In fact, there is a lot of pumpkin-related “stuff” that I enjoy. I rarely pass on pumpkin inspired food. I get a good feeling when I go to the grocery store in October and see loads of pumpkins in crates for shoppers to buy. I still fondly remember going to the pumpkin patch as a kid. And, to this day, nothing says “Halloween” more to me than walking down a dark street and encountering a few lit up jack-o-lanterns on the porch of a house.
However, just in the same way that I like to eat a delicious cake but not put in the work to bake it, I have never really enjoyed taking the time to carve spooky faces or themes into a pumpkin. For at least the past 15 years, I have not participated in pumpkin carving activities.
Okay, let me be straight up with the two main reasons why I am not a pumpkin carving enthusiast. For one, it is dirty work. I don’t enjoy the smell of raw pumpkin upon cutting the top open and I am definitely not a big fan of pulling all the “guts” and seeds out. Two, I am not an artistic person. Using a knife to carve something into a large hollow vegetable is not my forte.
But after a decade and a half of not getting within a few inches of a pumpkin not called pumpkin pie, Sidney and I decided we would carve one last night.
We went to our local grocery store in the late afternoon and picked out the perfect pumpkin. (Full disclosure: We took the pumpkin from an autumn display in the floral section just because it was so much better looking than all the others in the crate).
After checking out, Sidney proudly put the pumpkin on her lap in the passenger’s seat as we drove home. We waited for it to get dark out and then I turned on a spooky Halloween YouTube playlist while Sid covered the kitchen table in paper.
I told myself that if we were going to carve a pumpkin, I was going to be a full participant. This meant facing my fear of getting my hands dirty with pumpkin innards. After Sid cut open the top, I plunged my hand deep inside the pumpkin and started pulling out the insides. My handfuls were matched by the scoopfuls that Sid was taking out with the apparatus that we were given in our pumpkin carving kit.
Once we cleaned out the pumpkin, we selected the pattern we would use (no easy, unoriginal jack-o-lantern face for us). Deciding on a bat and pumpkin portrait that was titled “Besties,” we taped the paper on and got to work. Sidney would poke along the pattern for a little bit and then she would turn it over to me to poke. So it went for a few rotations until I pressed too hard and broke the tool. Sid completed it by using a screwdriver.
After we had laid out the foundation of the pattern, we started to cut out the pieces. Sid would cut a piece and then I would cut a piece. I was much more at ease using the tiny orange knife our kit provided as opposed to a large kitchen knife. Finally, the last little jagged piece was gone and our design had transferred from the sheet of paper to our actual pumpkin!
It was at this time we realized that we didn’t have a light source to put in our masterpiece. However, we were not going to be disappointed. We went over to my in-laws and Brenda gave us a candle to use. Placing the candle in the pumpkin while turning off the lights, we admired our jack-o-lantern.
Let me say this…pumpkin carving is hard work! It took us 45 minutes to complete ours. It took us the longest to poke the holes around the pattern while the cutting part was tough but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Honestly though, last night was a lot of fun. Sidney and I enjoyed working as a team to create a respectable jack-o-lantern. Most of all, it was great practice for me. I can’t wait to carve one for my new son/daughter next Halloween! Don’t Blink.