There are FOUR Jack-o-Lanterns!

October 26, 2023 —
We almost didn’t carve jack-o-lanterns this year. Since I only see the girls about a third of the time, it was difficult to fit it in among our other activities. Also, Halloween weekend is going to be a busy one for us, spread as it is across three states and various events. The girls also hadn’t carved them anywhere else either, for some reason. It made me sad. In fact, I’d almost consoled myself with the fact that we’d randomly carved jack-o-melons in August.

But I couldn’t skip it. It’s a defining moment of the season. Not farm stand visits or watching scary movies or road trips or corn mazes or haunted houses or even trick-or-treating. It’s the one ritual that really sums up everything about the holiday, all in a neat round orange sphere. So, on a whim while driving them home from school, we stopped at a farm and nabbed four pumpkins in record time. We then went home, threw on Casper, and went to town with knives and spoons, guts flying, serrated edges sawing, casual glances up at the movie as we wielded dangerous implements.

My youngest got obsessed with the little white pumpkins at the farm and just wanted a Jack Skellington head. My oldest went overboard as always, using about a dozen different tools and her own recipe for blood. “Corn syrup. Same stuff they use for pig's blood in Carrie,” she said, quoting one of my favorite movies to my face. My middle child got frustrated when the carving didn’t match up with her drawing and vision. They all go through that phase. I just did the fastest face I could possibly do, so that I would have time to carve the youngest’s pumpkin and help out with the other two, as needed (I wasn’t needed).

Over the past fifteen years of having a family, it has been awesome to watch our jack-o-lantern harvest grow. First, it was just two of them, one for me and one for my wife, then three jack-o-lanterns, then four, then five, with each child getting more and more independent in the planning and then getting more and more demanding around freedom with the carving knife. And every one of those nights is documented on the OTIS Halloween blog over the years.

And now we are back to four. I almost carved a sad jack-o-lantern.

But I am extremely happy to see them glowing evilly on my front porch together.