It’s Halloween and my pumpkin sits on the little table by our front door. He is the most perfect carving pumpkin but, for now, he is just a pumpkin. Whether or not he will be a Jack-O-Lantern has not been decided. It’s a long story.
When I was a kid, we always had the best Jack-O-Lanterns and my father always carved them. Sometimes, they were happy, laughing faces and other years, they were scary and frightful – but they were always perfectly carved. He had an eye for it; he had the magic touch – I would watch him scrape out the seeds and carefully draw on the eyes and mouth, and when Mr. Pumpkin was all done, he would sit on our front porch, his orangey face a beacon to the world. I was never allowed to touch the knife or to make my own contribution to our Halloween pumpkin – I might carve the mouth crooked or perhaps I’d slip and make an eye that just wasn’t absolutely perfect. It’s hard to believe that I went through my entire lifetime actually thinking that I was inept at pumpkin carving! Then, one year, my fiancée brought home the most perfect melon and, well, it was time. I was actually nervous. I had never done it before! So, I carefully took the one sharp knife we owned, and in it went, cutting out the top, shaving off the excess as I’d seen my father do, and making sure it fit right back in on top. I scraped and scraped out seeds and pumpkin, dumping all the stringy orange goo on a newspaper until I had a nice clean carving area. Then, I stepped back and looked at him. How do I make the face? Do I get out a marker? Do I get a ruler or a template? What if I mess up? Then, I just took a deep breath and plunged the knife through where I thought his nose should be. From there, I just kept going. I estimated the distance between nose and mouth, between mouth and eyes – I added a little eyebrow over each eye and then, I stepped back. He was perfect. Every cut, every line, every part of his face was just as it should be. I put a nice fat candle inside and lit it, and the glow I felt from within was as warm and cheery as the one I saw smiling back at me.