Growing up as a home schooled and very accident prone child, there were certain experiences that I missed out on. Carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween was one of those things.
Now, I had a very rich and varied education with a lot of activites thrown in for good measure. I went places, and did things, and got to try as many arts-and-crafts projects as I wanted.
Except for anything involving pointy objects. I'm the girl who nearly cut the pad of her fingertip off on a catfood can lid. I once cut a chunk out of my middle finger with a pair of safety scissors. Yeah, that's right. Safety scissors. The sort that you're not supposed to be able to cut yourself with. I still have a scar from those things.
Over the years my injuries have been many, and the majority of them have involved my wrists and hands (and my head, a few times, but only bad enough to need stitches one time).
So pumpkin carving was something that was simply not done. That, and my mother was simply not fond of Halloween, having come from a country where such a holiday was not observed. She would dutifully take my sister and me trick-or-treating every year, and would even make all of our costumes by hand, but we didn't really decorate the house for it. I got to grow pumpkins as a kid. I had a whole garden full of the things, ranging in size from tiny to massive. But I was never permitted to take a knife to any of my home-grown pumpkins. I completely understand and appreciate my mother's reasons for this. Would you give me a knife for the purpose of disembowling a pumpkin and carving faces in it? Probably not, as the likely result would be a trip to the hospital and a halloween jack-o-lantern that was covered with real blood. I instead made my jack-o-lanterns out of construction paper (using the aforementioned not-so-safety scissors).
So I made it to the ripe age of 29 without ever having carved a pumpkin. I love Halloween and all of its trappings, so I don't know why I never just went out and bought myself some pumpkins one year and had at them. Probably some ingrained "must not risk fingers" instinct that was keeping me from ever considering it. My husband, however, discovered that my experience was sadly lacking, and decided to remedy this fact.
Last night we sacrificed one of our wedding pumpkins (I'd purchased some to use for decorations, and later re-located them to our front porch after the wedding was over) for my first jack-o-lantern experience. I let Adam cut the top off, and then I scooped out all of the guts. I'd forgotten how raw pumpkin smells..not like the delicious scent of pie at all, but something rather less pleasant. I chose the most basic jack-o-lantern design: Two triangular eyes, a triangle nose, and a gap-toothed grin. Adam added a stitched frankenstein-esque scar to the side.
It's not the prettiest jack-o-lantern around..nor the scariest. It's rather simple looking, but last night when we put it out on the front porch and lit the candle inside, I was terribly proud of myself.
I also managed to get through the experience with all of my fingers intact, and my friend and I are going to have a pumpkin-carving extravaganza this weekend. She and her mother are actual award-winning pumpkin carvers, so I fear my pride will be seriously squished by the end of it, but that's OK. One day, perhaps, I too will be the Pumpkin Queen..but for now, I'll settle for just being the Pumpkin Peasant.