Carving Out Halloween

Halloween, it’s nearly here.  For me Halloween, though enjoyable (mostly for the candy and occasional small party), hasn’t been my number one holiday.  I know people who live for this little snippet of time in the year and I love how they love it.  I envy their enthusiasm for it.  I wish I could share it.  I think I’m just lazy.

Corn mazes (I finally went through one two years ago — made fun by the fact that we made it a game and had teams competing to see who could finish first — mine didn’t), costume parties, candy corn, leaves falling, spooky houses, apple bobbing, rascal ghosts and goblins, and carved pumpkins.  My enjoyment of this particular holiday nowadays mostly consists of taking photos of the cute grand sons in their costumes and maybe going along to watch the trick or treating.  Some years we leave our porch light on, like last year, so we can open the door multiple times and give out loads of candy to the nicely dressed munchkins, and some years we just leave the light off and hunker in.  Our one Halloween decoration is a plastic pumpkin that is lit from within.  We put it in the window and plug it in, then we take it back downstairs to the storage room.  I know, I know — bah humbug.

When I was a kid Mom made our costumes.  We were ghosts, Batman and Robin, and other regular stuff for kids of our generation.  A favorite of mine was the year I wanted to be a Lucerne carton of milk.  Yes, a carton of milk.  Mom somehow made that happen.  A box, some shoulder straps, and a nice paint job — I was milk.  Quirky.  It goes along with my personality I guess.  When I was older, in college, I went to a party as the unknown guest.  This was a play on the unknown comic, who was popular during that time.  He used to wear a paper bag over his head when he did his shtick.  I made a huge paper bag out of other paper bags and put it over my head.  I had eye holes.  The bag went to my waist.  I remember it being hot in there.  I hardly knew anyone at the party (big parties aren’t my thing, they make me kind of uncomfortable), and after being asked a few times “who is in there?” I took the thing off, went outside, and smoked cigarettes.  Then I left.  Once, when I was a kid, I think it was the year I was the milk, I went to a kid’s party.  At some point during this party some girl hit me in the leg with a caramel apple.  My pajamas got all sticky and gross.  I ended up leaving.  I guess parties and me really don’t mix.  I can’t recall one I’ve been to, of a large size anyway, that was fun for me.  Smallish gatherings with several friends or family, or both, no problem.  Big parties with loads of people I don’t know — torture for me.  Maybe it was the apple incident that threw me over the party edge.  I’ll never know.

But enough of my insecurities and  foibles, back to Halloween, the day of scares and dares and tricks and treats.  There is a thing I loved, and love, about Halloween, other than it being in the fall, which rocks for me (I love fall), and that thing is my mom’s carved pumpkins.  My mom — so creative.  She has loads of creative talent, way more than she realizes.  That woman can draw, play music, sew, fix most things around the house, and she can carve, or sculpt if you will.  I always looked forward to what she would do and was always so proud of her creations.  She didn’t think much of them, you know, just something she did, but man were they cool.  We have loads of photos of them, year after year, and not one was the same.  She used to do one or more every year and take them to my step-dad’s office or other places.  She usually did at least one for us at the house as well.  Those pumpkins had loads of personality.  That’s what made them so great.  Each was a definite character unto itself.  They were amazing.

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She doesn’t always carve them anymore, but when she does they are as spectacular as ever.  I always bragged about them, and still do I must admit.  My idea of carving is a very crude triangle-eyed, triangle-nose, jagged mouth sort of creation.  Not very inventive or attractive.  But Mom’s pumpkins — Wow.  While mine appear to be some sort of freakish trick, Mom’s pumpkins were, and are, always a definite treat of the season.

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