There are several obligatory and celebratory rituals and supposedly "fun family time" jobs that I very much dislike. Making sugar cookies and egg dyeing are a couple of them. But my very most reviled holiday extravaganza has got to be pumpkin carving.
I know, I am a horrible mother.
Everything always starts out like a lovely Norman Rockwell painting--the choosing of the pumpkins, followed by a doughnut dessert. Fun. Choosing the designs for the pumpkins--also fun. This year we have Phineas, Ferb and Perry, Thomas the Tank Engine and Tinkerbell, and some silly creatures from a 14-YO's ridiculously dumb obsession, "The Regular Show". One of them looks like Swiper the Fox from Dora, which sort of makes up for it, only because it bothers the 14-YO that we say that. Score 1 for Mom and Dad.
Then the actual carving starts. It's all fine and good. We draw circles around the bottoms of the pumpkins, so they sit flat, and no one has to reach their hand into the bowels to light the candles. Most especially it is so we can do this:
We cut them off, and let the gutting begin. That lasts all of 30 seconds before someone complains about how gross it is. "Keep digging" we say. Halloween fervor quickly dissipates in the face of actual hand-to-gourd guts contact.
Then comes the design making. Once again we realize that we have failed. Not enough safety knives. The lines are far too thin. Every child under 14 (which now is 4 of them) is ridiculously incapable of making the actual cuts into the pumpkin, so responsibility falls to Mom or Dad. Yay for family fun activities!
The children disappear one by one. What's left is a grumbling set of parents cursing the paper templates, and a 14-YO who is convinced that user error has nothing to do with Swiper's eyes falling out. "Stupid template," he says.
Every. Single. Year.
BUT, I realized why we do this each and every Halloween. We get to hear conversations like the following, which actually occurred this morning in our kitchen:
4-YO: "Did you know that pumpkins are FRUIT?"
All: "Yes, we know!"
4-YO: "Because you can make pumpkin PIE, and it tastes FRUUUU-TEE."
Spicy Boy: "They are gourds." [commences singing "Follow the Drinking Gourd"]
14-YO: "Ugh. They always taught us that in elementary school."
Spicy Boy: "It's about how they went to drink alcohol."
Mom (laughing): "NO! Oh my goodness. It's about the Big Dipper, and how the runaway slaves followed it, because it points to the North Star. They wanted to go north to freedom."
Spicy Boy: "Harriet Tubman got shot."
Lava Girl (9-YO): "Wait. I thought she rode on the subway."
Subway/Underground Railroad? Potayto/Potahto.
Join us in the spring for Easter egg dyeing, when we tackle another tough subject: euthanasia. Just what is up with those kids in China, anyway?