A Family of Jack-O’s

October 25, 2014 — You know how I know my family’s growing? It’s not the grocery bills nor the number of child seats in my car. Not the number of toys I step on per day nor how many hours straight the washing machine is rumbling. It’s the number of pumpkins sitting on our floor right now: Four, one for each of us. In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons to have a family…more pumpkins during the Halloween Season. Because that means more jack-o-lanterns.

This year, we picked our pumpkins from a place called Lull Farm in Hollis, New Hampshire, an ordinary enough farm except for the seemingly incongruous Jamaican touches throughout. Apparently, the place employs a Jamaican workforce who live here during the farming months and then return to the island during the winter. Which is cool. I just never thought I’d ever write Jamaican and New Hampshire in the same sentence.

What drew us wasn’t the multi-cultural aspect of the place, though. It was the massive pile of pumpkins they had out front. And I don’t mean that figuratively. They’d forgone arranging the pumpkins in bins or individual piles or in faux-patches for easy access and dumped them all in a single lumpy hill, ensuring that most of the pumpkins were out of reach deep inside the orange mound. It was the kind of pile that, with the right black magic, could sprout consciousness and assemble itself into a giant pumpkin monster. Glorious.

As we rounded the pumpkin Everest, wagon in tow, I faced the same yearly conundrum. Do I grab a classically shaped pumpkin or one of the weird, malformed ones, the Charlie Brown Christmas trees of Halloween. I just never know. This year, I ended up going with perfectly shaped, deeply ridged beauty with a stem that must have been the envy of the patch. Yup. Stem-envy. The only bit of oddity about it was that its rich orange color was still half shot through with green veins from being not quite ripe. The effect was kind of cool, and it turned out to be the easiest jack-o-lantern I’ve ever cleaned and cut.

Usually we get our pumpkins early in the month and let them sit around as decorations for a while before perforating them, but because we were out of town for a chunk of October, we went almost directly from patch to Jack.

As is our yearly practice, we played a movie in the background and we plied our magic markers and knifes and tiny saws and scoopers. This year, we went with The Addams Family movie. Which meant we spent a couple minutes awkwardly staring at our pumpkins cringing through a Christmas carol. I’d forgotten the movie opens with a Christmas scene. Although it does end with a Halloween one. “Wake the dead!”

I’m gonna close this article out by restating something I’ve said before during a previous season. No matter how interrupted your Halloween Season has been, whether you missed It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or suffered a heat wave or never quite made it to a corn maze or mis-timed your diet so you couldn’t pig out on candy, the only way you can fail Halloween, in my opinion, is to not carve a jack-o-lantern.

It’s hard not to be the Halloween kind of happy with one of these in your house. Or four.

Well, three-and-a-half. We didn’t carve the baby’s pumpkin. Carve and baby are also weird sentence-mates.