Pumpkin Carving With Zack

Pumpkin Carving With Zack
Chimes Opinions Article

Nothing can get you into the right mood for the Halloween holiday season quite like creatively stabbing a vegetable, repeatedly, over and over again and then setting fire to its center. Some might prefer to call it "pumpkin carving," but whatever the name, I don't think I'm alone in saying that it's my favorite tradition — not just for Halloween but every holiday except Veterans Day.

This past week when I was given five dollars and sent out to the store to get groceries, I found myself using that logic to rationalize my purchase of a fine pumpkin instead of a basket filled with 20 packets of Ramen Noodles. I believe I made a wise choice.

The tradition of pumpkin carving actually harkens back to the days of yore when rascally children would place flaming pumpkins on Old Man Nicholson’s doorstep and quickly run away. Old Man Nicholson, getting his foot stuck in the pumpkin after stomping it out, would then shake his fist at the next generation of village citizens yelling, "You no good Punk-Kins!" –– therefore giving birth to the legend.

Of course technological advancements have made it so that we no longer need to use our feet to stamp holes in the pumpkins and can now use carving knives instead. What I realized was that this still requires a certain amount of skill, especially if one wants their pumpkin to resemble the likeness of their cat as I did.

After I first mistakenly brought home a watermelon to carve instead of a pumpkin, I made a second trip to the store, only to encounter even more disappointment when I realized I had accidentally bought a pumpkin that wasn't seedless. In addition to this, I was also saddened to see it didn't come with a candle or a prize inside. Thankfully Beth took the time to inform me that this is actually a blessing since the seeds could be baked and covered in copious amounts of salt, my favorite flavor next to the color red.

Then, it was time for the actual carving. Unfortunately it seemed that the pumpkin I had chosen was suffering from a strange sort of leprosy, which covered its most promising “face side” with a large patch of off-white growths. It seemed that unless I was willing to carve my pumpkin into the shape of a teenager who used to work at a Regal Cinema (me), I would have to use the misshapen backside. As if matters weren't complicated enough, while in need of a model to plan my carving, I had to struggle to get our cat Georgie Fruit to sit still in my chosen pose: standing. At this point Beth stepped in to assist me by making a drawing that I could easily trace onto the pumpkin and then cut around.

Every Halloween, my father used to carve pumpkins with me as well. Myself, being scared of all things sharp, left most of the hard work up to him while I just drew the outline. It was strange now doing the carving myself, still half-expecting a trip to the emergency room while maneuvering Beth’s Ikea knife around the lines she helped me draw. I didn’t know if I felt quite like an adult, but I definitely felt like I wasn’t just a child anymore. I felt responsible not just for how the pumpkin looked but for the very moment — for the holiday itself.

I took the knife into my hands and began cutting away. I ran into some difficulty when I realized that knives usually cut in one direction and not in the shape of circles, yet I continued nonetheless. And then, before I knew it, my beaver carving was complete. Beth and I stood back and nodded, knowing it would be a happy Halloween.

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