Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Tradition

As far as I'm concerned fall is synonymous with pumpkins. We use and see so many pumpkins between October and Thanksgiving, I should wake up on Black Friday with a hangover. I decorate with them, paint them, cook with them, take pictures with them...the list goes on and on.

The first time I carved a pumpkin was for my preschool class. In the olden days, I sketched out the design and using a few kitchen knives and spoons I carved while bright-eyed 3 and 4 year olds watched in amazement. I've continued the tradition with my own kids. Every year at the end of October, we always carve pumpkins to display for Halloween. Last year I discovered carving kits complete with templates and a set of tools easy enough for small hands to use. The boys had so much fun choosing their own designs and carving their jack-o-lanterns I decided to use the kits again. We've had a very eventful past few months, so needless to say I wasn't exactly eager to carve pumpkins, but sucked it up for the sake of tradition.

First things first, I sent my hubby to buy the pumpkins. Side note: His only instructions were to pick two that were not blemished or rotting-extremely vague instructions for someone who doesn't carve pumpkins. For days, I'd walk past them and think about it, but I KNEW I'd have to get my mind right first. I finally took the plunge Thursday night, knowing I'd need extra hands to attend to baby girl while I was knee deep in pulp and pumpkin seeds. The boys finished all most of their homework and I set up our supplies while they were in the tub.

I opted to cut a hole from the bottom to make it easier to put the candle in later. Despite their eagerness to finish, they were (as usual) totally grossed out by the first step: pulp and seed removal. After a shoddy job of cleaning the insides, I got them started by tracing the templates and cutting the curviest areas.
JB chose a "Skelvis" design, which was a skeleton with Elvis' features. As we worked we talked about Elvis. He asked a few questions. I answered what I knew. Then he asked if I'd ever been to an Elvis concert. He asked about his death and based on his response, 'A lot of famous people had a heart attack. That's what they said about Michael Jackson. He had a heart attack.', wasn't satisfied with my "heart attack" explanation. I considered using that as a teachable moment to reiterate the danger of drugs, but I glanced at the clock and saw it was 30 minutes past bedtime and decided that could wait for another time.

I corrected a few "uh ohs" with toothpicks and my paring knife. Just as I was declaring what a BAD idea it was to start such a project on a school night, we finished. I rolled everything (tools included) up into the makeshift tarp of trash bags and cleaned up while shooing the boys off to bed. As they were climbing into their beds, they criticized their "horrible jobs" until I turned out the lights and placed a candle inside each jack-o-lantern. Just like a page from the movies, they smiled with pride and gave me a big hug before going to sleep. Those moments remind me why I carry on many of our traditions even when I don't really feel like it.

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