And no one lost a finger

By Mir
October 30, 2005

I have some friends who are Party People. I don’t mean they like to party as in, go out trolling at bars and getting hammered. Puh-lease. We are all, um, old, and mostly married, with small kids. No, here in suburbia we have family parties and get hammered while our children run around and punch each other.

Ahahahahaha! I kid. First of all, most injuries are of the “he fell on me on the trampoline” variety. Second, not everyone gets hammered. For example, I am generally too paranoid to drink at all when I have the kids with me, given that a single drink is likely to make me loopy. Plus, damn, I have a lot of friends who could outdrink many fratboys without even breaking a sweat. They don’t get hammered, they just drink and keep on wiping runny noses and tying shoes.

Me, I never host parties. I don’t know how, on account of I am a social retard. I mean, sure, I GO to all of these parties, and it seems very simple: People show up, mill around, and eat and drink. But that seems beyond my abilities, somehow. Thankfully I’m still able to show up at these functions when everyone else hosts them!

So today was a Halloween party, promising traditional Halloween activities, including pumpkin carving.

I have a little secret. Um. I see dead people… more often than I carve pumpkins.

In fact, I don’t carve pumpkinS. I carve pumpkin. Singular. Before today, I had carved. one. pumpkin. In my entire life.

After church, we hit the grocery store for some last-minute items. And to buy each child a pumpkin. There was a gigantic bin with just two (huge) pumpkins in the bottom, sporting a sign advertising “Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins.” There was no way I was purchasing 2 30-pound pumpkins for my kids. Come on… there had to be something smaller….

And there it was; a bin of child-sized pumpkins. I let the kids each pick a pumpkin, glanced at the sign, which said something about $.59/pound, and we went on our merry way.

At the party, it was a child’s paradise. There was a tableful of food, most of which was dessert. There was a special table set up for them to frost sugar cookies shaped like bats and pumpkins and ghosts. Everyone ran around in costumes inbetween the various activities–eating mini-donuts off a string (I’m not convinced Monkey’s string even HAD a donut; it was gone so fast), bobbing for apples (otherwise known as “dunking your head in everyone else’s saliva and snot”), busting open the pinata (because what these kids needed was more candy), and carving pumpkins.

Ah, pumpkin carving. Setting aside my own misgivings, let’s consider the wisdom of allowing a dozen children under the age of 10 handle a bunch of knife-like utensils. Yeah. Um. I was a little scared.

The smaller children (like mine) were happy to have the adults do the actual cutting. Phew. I told my two to start thinking about what sort of design they’d like, and set about cutting the lid off of of Monkey’s pumpkin.

Well you know, the TIP of those pumpkin-carving saws isn’t very sharp. I was having a tough time just getting the darn thing IN there so that I could get going. Once I finally penetrated the pumpkin, I thought my arm was going to snap off, trying to saw my way around the circumference. I finally asked one of the husbands to help me.

(Okay, that’s a lie. I struggled with it for a good five minutes while Monkey said, “Is it done yet? Are you done now? Now are you done? Can you take the top off now, Mama?” and finally I announced loudly, “Maybe there is a big strong Daddy here who can help us!” The nearest man was shamed into helping me immediately.)

He got the top off of Monkey’s pumpkin, and then we start to clean it out while he set to work on Chickadee’s pumpkin. He seemed to be having even more trouble with hers, which I attributed to fatigue from having wrestled with Monkey’s. Anyway. Monkey told me what he wanted, and I drew on his command. Once the design had been okayed, I cut it out… realizing that I had been missing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in my relatively carving-deprived life up until that point. When I finished Monkey’s pumpkin, I couldn’t even feel my arm anymore.

Turning to Chickadee’s pumpkin, it quickly became clear that she had selected the hardest pumpkin in the history of the world. There was some discussion of whether it might be easier to crack this pumpkin by running it over with my car, or whether that might damage my vehicle. Several of us took turns trying to cut it. Then the mocking began. My friends accused me of purchasing a mutant pumpkin. I defended myself, of course.

“Hey! It’s just a regular pumpkin from the supermarket! It said… ummm… what did it say… it said sugar pumpkins on the sign, I think.”

I really wanted to believe–when everyone started laughing at me–that it was just because they were all drunk. But no. I guess sugar pumpkins are for pies… because they have a lot more flesh than the kind of pumpkins folks normally scoop for jack-o-lanterns.


Fortunately, someone had a spare pumpkin, and we were able to throw away Chickadee’s precious little bowling ball and make her a lovely jack-o-lantern out of a pumpkin that wasn’t crossbred with granite. In fact, one of my friends was on a roll; she carved that sucker up in about 5 minutes, WHILE drinking a glass of wine. My hero!

By the time we got all of the pumpkins lined up for the group shot, the children were all spinning in orbit around Neptune. While we’d been putting the finishing touches on the carvings and fetching tealights, they’d inhaled the remaining cookies and most of the candy from the pinata. Ohhhh it was frightening. Sugar-smeared children running in circles everywhere! But most of them did come to admire the wall of jack-o-lanterns as dusk fell. Then, as most of us started packing up and warning that it would be time to go, soon, most of the children started screaming and crying.

Yep, I have no idea why I don’t have one of those parties, here.

Anyway, all is forgiven. The blood on Monkey’s shirt (of dubious origin), the ridiculous meltdown Chickadee had this evening, and the fact that someone put out a bottle of wine that was past its prime (mmmm… vinegar). I brought home a heaping bag of pumpkin guts and there will be salty, crunchy pumpkin seeds to snack on tomorrow. I may have even snuck a few tonight. (That thing about drying them completely before roasting? Disregard. Blanche them in brine and throw them in the oven while still wet; you just have to bake a little longer, is all.) Plus the kids had such a good time, inbetween whining and complaining about various indignities.

It was quite a day. I cannot WAIT to have another night of excitement TOMORROW! And then the children are not allowed to bother me again until Christmas. Christ.


  1. DebR

    The wall o’ jacks turned out great!

    I wouldn’t have known the difference in the pumpkins either. I thought a pumpkin is a pumpkin. Who knew! I’ve only ever carved one. It had fangs and when the pumkin started to dry out, the fangs started curling in, making it look like a little old man without his dentures. Scary!

  2. Chickie

    The smell of pumpkin guts makes me gag. You are a hardier human than me.

  3. barbex

    Pumpkins are so hard to cut! I’m glad that this traditon has not caught on over here yet, I have never carved a pumpkin, I just make soup out of them and there is a lot of agony, nearmisses and blood spills involved in getting the damn things cut!

    But I have to admit, the wall of Jack o’lanterns looks wonderful. Good work!

  4. Chookooloonks

    Is it sad that when I saw the picture of the “Peeking Ghost” I read “Peking Ghost,” and assumed it was an apparition of Asian origin?

    Yeah, I thought so.

  5. Kari

    Huh, I thought pumpkins were pumpkins. Thanks for educating me, or I’d probably end up in the same arm-amputating situation.

    Fabulous job on the wall.

  6. carson

    It was my turn to host our monthly neighborhood parent group, and the theme was. . .pumpkin carving. Being the clever woman I am, I reserved our town’s meeting hall instead of holding it at my house. That meant I didn’t have to clean before or after! But DH and I were busily host and hostessing, so our pumpkin didn’t get carved. I could do it today, but HEY, looka those poster paints! Wouldn’t that be way better! We also had the Linda Blair impersonation last night from a child. (BTW, the latest theory is not high end aspergers but ADD w/o hyperactivity.) I never knew people actually made pies from pumpkins rather than cans.

    Finally. . .the pumpkin seeds. . .I’ve tried them, but it seems like an awful lot of work to get them out of the little shells. You can buy them at the health food store, pre-roasted & salted. And shelled.

    Hmmmm, I probably should have put this on my own blog, but then not nearly as many people would have read it. Sorry for being a comment hog.

  7. Amy-GO

    Gorgeous pumkins! I’m a freak, I actually LIKE to carve them. We did two last night and have one more to go before the trick-or-treaters arrive (in the rain, of course). Happy Halloween!

  8. Melanie Lynne Hauser

    You call them sugar pumpkins? Around here they’re just pie pumpkins. But yeah – you don’t carve ’em, but they’re really good to draw faces on with magic markers. Have fun tonight – but what about Thanksgiving? Are the kids allowed to bother you then?

  9. Bob

    Ah, the wonders of grown children. They can carve their own damn pumpkins.

    (you still get the inexplicable meltdowns, though).

  10. Bob

    P.S. Does this mean your going to be the wicked witch of the west for holloween?

  11. Marti

    pssst…they make batter-powered pumpkin carving knives now – they work great!

    Yours turned out very nice though!

    Wishing everyone on my blogroll a boo-tiful day! LOL!

    Happy Halloween!

  12. Jenn

    I didn’t know there were different kinds of pumpkins. I just thought there were the tiny cute ones, normal looking pumpkin ones and those giant alien freak-o pumpkins that you see on the news sometimes.

    I always toast pumpkin seeds, then get whine about getting them stuck in my teeth and throw the rest of them out.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest