We carved pumpkins tonight.
I know, I know. We were supposed to do this about a week and a half ago. But the weekend before Halloween found me grading papers and writing mid-term comments, and then Halloween had to go and fall on a Friday, and who has time to carve pumpkins on a weeknight?
We do, I guess– just not in time for Halloween.
We also sang birthday greetings to our Alaska cousin Elizabeth tonight. She happily received our singing even though, it must be admitted, her birthday was on Friday.
It’s difficult sometimes to do things On Time, don’t you agree?
So we carved our pumpkins tonight. In November.
“It doesn’t matter,” I told the children when they expressed surprise that we would (still) be carving pumpkins despite encroaching Thanksgiving. “When we lived in Switzerland,” I told them, “our neighbors carved their pumpkins at the beginning of October.” We certainly can’t do that here. Mold would most decidedly Set In were we to carve so early. But in Switzerland, I told the children, they don’t celebrate Halloween. So they can carve their pumpkins whenever they want to. And they do.
We carved three pumpkins in all tonight, and now the kitchen table is covered with sodden newspapers and pumpkin guts and the few seeds that escaped their sieving and setting to bake in the oven. A messy process. A fun process. A process that, for all I care, comes only once a year.
Will’s pumpkin is “wearing” sunglasses. He sports a large nose, a scarred cheek, and two pointy teeth jutting from his lower jaw. He is, according to William, The Terminator. This is what you get, I suppose, when you carve a pumpkin at twelve years old.
Everett’s pumpkin has been stabbed repeatedly with a very small, sharp object all over the right side of its head. It has concerned eyebrows, a despairing mouth, and a straight cut over its left eye. When we allow it, this pumpkin wears a knife embedded in its forehead. This is what you get, I am learning, when you carve a pumpkin at almost ten years old.
Emma’s pumpkin is Very Small and Very Cute. It hasn’t got a face at all, but instead is clear-cut in front in the shape of a turkey. It’s the sort of turkey that one makes in pre-school, where you trace your hand and use the thumb for the head and draw little feet underneath. Emma’s hand was too big for a pattern, but Bill helped her design it anyhow, and now a turkey-pumpkin sits on the kitchen countertop, where you can clearly see the candle glowing inside.
And this is what you get, don’t you know, when you carve a pumpkin in November.