Now that I’m an adult, I often think back to events from my childhood and I realize I never had any sort of appreciation for the work my parents did to make them happen.
Pumpkin carving fits squarely in that category.
Looking back to my own childhood, I do not remember my parents finding time in our very busy week to buy pumpkins, wrestling us into our shoes and carseats and arbitrating our bickering. I mean, I don’t want to be dramatic here, but doing ANYTHING with small children is a lot of work, and we haven’t even left the driveway!
Of course, kids are inherently selfish, so they never consider any of the sacrifices made on their behalf — that someone is devoting most of their waking hours to making sure they are fed and clothed and that their backpack isn’t left in the middle of the floor young lady!
Everyday tasks like getting children dressed in the morning and brushing teeth take their own amount of focus and teamwork, but it’s the extra stuff that is really impressive –homemade birthday cakes, dyeing Easter eggs, pumpkin carving. Those things have to fit into days that are already just so, so busy.
Back then I never once considered the planning it requires to add pumpkin carving into the schedule.
For our family, the kids get home from the bus after 4 p.m., which makes our evenings very very full. If you add anything else then GONE is time for an afternoon snack, or sorting through school papers. Sorry. I cannot make dinner, there simply isn’t time, why aren’t you scooping?
My kids probably won’t remember the big fight over which pumpkin belonged to which kid, how impatient Mom was with the three-year old who kept asking to use the knife, or that it got dark before we could finish.
I hope they’ll look back on it fondly, bickering and all. And when they’re adults maybe they’ll even wonder how in the world Mom managed to fit those four giant pumpkins into the grocery cart with Thomas and Anna. Perhaps they’ll remember spreading out a quilt in the gorgeous fall weather, David being distracted too by Harry Potter to join in, and Mary offering to clean all four pumpkins. And that we all laughed when Thomas asked me to carve a “grumpy pumpkin,” because “Grumpy Pumpkin” describes Thomas’s Halloween mood so well.
When I think back to carving pumpkins, what I remember is my mom spreading newspaper over the kitchen table. We scooped out the seeds, then drew faces on our pumpkins, and watched as our dad carefully cut along our drawings. We never used kits or fancy tools; our jack-o-lanterns were always lopsided and jolly.
I do not remember us three kids fussing, or fighting, or my dad telling us to pipe down and wait our turn. I don’t remember my mom having to stay up later than normal to clean up from dinner, or getting on the floor to clean pumpkin slime.
What I remember is that we were together, and it was Halloween.