As the child of very religious (and very Catholic) Nigerian parents, I had a different upbringing than many of my friends.
I still remember the drama that ensued when my godmother convinced my mom that I would turn into a witch if she continued allowing me to read Harry Potter. Luckily, my father intervened; I think that he could sense that this would be the one thing that broke me because I made it very clear that there was absolutely no way in hell that I was giving up my Harry Potter books. If I had to rewatch every episode of “Charmed” and actually turn into a witch to prevent that from happening, I would have gladly “Power of Three’d” that shit.
My mother also believed that Halloween was the devil’s birthday. I love my mother and our relationship has improved since I lived in their household. However, some of her opinions on certain subjects were flat out wrong. My dad tried to intervene on this issue as well as he did not share the same opinions that to dress up in a costume and go trick-or-treating was akin to pledging our allegiance to Satan. But it would provoke an argument between them every year and sometimes my dad just did not want to deal with it.
Consequentially, I grew up not celebrating many of the Halloween customs that were expected of kids my age. We never decorated our home for Halloween. I only went trick-or-treating once or twice as a kid. I don’t think I ever even saw a pumpkin (outside of “Cinderella”) until I was in college.
My husband thinks this is why I’m so meh about Halloween. I’ve tried to explain that the only reason I’m over Halloween before it starts is because it gets in the way of the true reason for the season: Christmas. Every time I talk about preparing for Christmas, I get the same dumb comment back: “But it’s not even Halloween yet!”
SHUT UP KAREN, YOUR OPINION DOESN’T MEAN SHIT TO ME.
Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.
Anyway, to prove to my husband that I can get in the Halloween spirit, I decided to do something to celebrate the day this year. Plus, I wanted to be that family that partook in these traditions together. At the very least, I had to make sure that my son did not end up quite as deprived as me and actually saw a pumpkin before the age of 18.
So, what are some Halloween traditions in which I could partake?
There’s decorating your home. Unfortunately, that would eat into my Christmas decor budget and I’m just not willing to make that sacrifice.
It’s my understanding that haunted houses and scary movies are also a thing around this time of year. But that’s a hard no for me. I get stressed out just playing Super Mario Bros. It usually happens at the level where Bowser comes into town and kicks my plumber ass. I generally end up screaming and throwing the controller to the nearest person. You will never get me into a horror movie. Plus, I would literally die in a haunted house. Either that or overreact and end up with a lawsuit filed against me for busting out my travel mace on one of the employees.
I guess I could just get dressed up. But I’m very lazy when it comes to these things and my post-pregnancy boobs have officially outgrown the trusty pirate costume that I went with for years.
I finally decided on carving a Jack-O-Lantern. That wouldn’t be too hard, right? I would do it all on my own, with no help from Google or the husband, because I’m an intelligent, well-rounded, independent woman who could surely figure out such things on her own. Right?
Picking out the pumpkin
Cinderella pumpkins? Fairy tale pumpkins? Enchanted pumpkins? What the fuck are these? These do not look like the pumpkins characters would carve on the white people shows that I grew up watching.
It took me a while to realize that the normal looking pumpkins were on the other side of the display.
But even then I had trouble finding the pumpkin that was worthy of the Bockelman household.
They all had various deformities. I figured that I had run into a substandard patch. Or maybe that’s just what pumpkins outside of a Disney movie look like?
Whatever. I had no more time to dawdle so I finally picked one up and got out of there.
Cutting out the top
First, I had to figure out what kind of knife to use. Do stores carry pumpkin knives? We have several knives at home, all with different edges, but only my husband knows each of their purposes. I first tried one of the skinnier looking serrated knives.
It got stuck and I almost took out my eye trying to pull it out.
I then used a fatter looking serrated knife. This time, my son almost lost an eye when it inevitably got stuck again. Maybe I just don’t have the tactical skill to use anything more heavy duty than a butter knife.
I finally felt comfortable enough with the large knife that I usually use for slicing through Amazon Prime boxes.
The top that I cut off ended up looking more like a f*cked up hexagon instead of a circle. But oh well.
Removing the pumpkin guts
Ugh, are pumpkins supposed to smell like this? I was envisioning the scent of pumpkin pie or maybe a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. Instead I received a scent that was more reminiscent of one of my child’s nastier poops.
All I could do was hold my breath and reach in. Fortunately, I encountered less guts inside than I had imagined. I wasn’t sure if I should be using some type of utensil to scrape everything out, but finally resorted to just using my bare hands.
Okay, well, my son’s bare hands. He wanted to help, okay?
Carving the pumpkin face
I cheated a little on this part because I did consider trying to find some unique Jack-O-Lantern designs on Google.
But, honestly, by this point, I was kind of over this pumpkin’s weird smell, so I decided to go for the basic bitch of Jack-O-Lanterns. Maybe next year I’ll get more creative.
I ended up using a paring knife to cut out the pumpkin’s face. I rushed a bit to get this part done before my husband could get home and tell me that I was ruining all his knives. I’d finally gotten the hang of cutting through the pumpkin and then sort of popping the piece of the pumpkin that I needed to come out. Then I would go in and clean up the inside.
The mouth proved to be the most difficult. I wanted to go for a semi-toothless grin but kept accidentally popping out the few teeth I chose to leave on the Jack-O-Lantern.
It was at this point that I realized that I had not cut the top off the pumpkin properly. At first, no matter which way I put the top back on, it didn’t seem to fit. And then once I finally could get it to fit on top of the opening, it just fell through into the pumpkin cavern.
My husband later informed me that I should have to cut a “steeper edge” to the top, whatever the hell that means. I guess there were some parts that I should have Googled first. Eventually. I maneuvered the top on in a way where it could go in, but didn’t slide in completely, so it wouldn’t fall to the bottom.
Not bad for my first try, huh? And it was a great activity to perform with my son. I wouldn’t use the word complete, though, because, by the time I’d finished, he’d disappeared into the kitchen to slam cabinets and break things, like he usually does around this time of night.
But now that I’ve gotten this obligation out of the way…