I did everything at the last minute this year. I finished putting up the decorations the week before Halloween. I didn’t take my daughter to get her costume until the weekend before. (The Bluebell Fairy). We bought it on Friday because she had a party to go to on Saturday. I was pretty much sucky slacker mom this year for Halloween. The day we got the costume, we also got her hair cut, our toenails painted together, and bought our Halloween candy. What we did not do was get a pumpkin. It was cold that day, and we were busy, and it was time to get home for dinner, and I just didn’t do it. I guess I figured she could do without one. And my friend, who usually has a pumpkin carving party every year, is not having it this year. So I guess I made an executive decision that we just did not need a pumpkin this year.
Yesterday, my husband spoke to me sternly. “Amanda told me you did not get a pumpkin for her,” he said. “She says you told her you were too busy getting her hair cut and your toenails done to go and get one. You know that stuff like that is very important to her.”
“I’m sorry,” I told him. “She just didn’t say anything about a pumpkin while we were shopping, and we just weren’t anywhere that they had pumpkins. I’ll take her to get a pumpkin after work tomorrow.”
Well, tomorrow was October 30, so it was the night before Halloween. After I picked her up from school, we went first to the little outdoor produce stand where I had seen pumpkins before. They were closed. “They don’t have any pumpkins,” my daughter said sadly.”
“Don’t worry,” I told her. “We’ll go to Kroger where they’ll have pumpkins.” On the way to Kroger, we passed a church that usually had a yard full of pumpkins for sale. There was nothing and no one out there. I began to have a sinking feeling that she was not going to have a pumpkin and that it would be all my fault. We got to Kroger and they had two sad pumpkins sitting outside that were rotting on one side. We went inside and there were no more pumpkins. I began to have a very bad feeling. My daughter had gone from singing happily in the back seat to being very, very quiet. “We’ll go to Publix,” I told her. “Surely they’ll have some.” We went to Publix and there were no pumpkins outside at all. Just empty bales of straw where they had been. “I’ll call Wal-Mart.” I told her. “I bet they’ll have some pumpkins.” I called the Wal-Mart pharmacy, because that is the number I have saved in my phone. I spoke with the pharmacist who told me they had pumpkins big enough for carving in the produce department. I shuddered because I so hate Wal-Mart, but at this point I was willing to go anywhere for this little girl whose sadness I had caused by being cavalier about getting her pumpkin.
We went to Wal-Mart. There were some straw bales sitting outside with some mums. “All I see out here are mums,” my daughter said sadly.
“Let’s go inside,” I said. “The pharmacist told me that the pumpkins were in the produce department.” We went to Produce and they did have pumpkins, yes, but there were two great big bins with just a few pumpkins at the bottom of each one. The orange ones were sad and misshapen and moldy on one side. There were green and white pumpkins in the other bin. One of the white pumpkins was a decent size and looked carvable. There was just one small gash on the back side and I figured we could work with that.
“I want an orange pumpkin,” Amanda said sadly.
“There is only this white one,” I told her. “If we don’t get this one we won’t have one at all.” She sighed and I put the pumpkin in the cart. The place was packed, of course. We stood in the “express” lane a while and got some gum. We put the pumpkin in the van and got home fifteen minutes late. It was almost seven. Now we had to get dinner and carve a pumpkin before Amanda’s bedtime at 8:30. I made her a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we set about carving the pumpkin. I set out some newspaper under the pumpkin.
I got a knife, and hey, it carved much more easily and smoothly than an orange pumpkin! I cut out the lid and we scooped out the insides. There were many fewer seeds and much less pulp than inside an orange pumpkin. I had her draw on a face and we cut it out. It had triangle eyes and a snaggle-toothed grin. I made a flat spot in the bottom and we lit a candle in there. We would have a pumpkin on the porch for Daddy to see when he got home! I told her we would get a white pumpkin next year as well. “This was was so easy to carve and clean!”, I told her.
Amanda was happy. She had a pumpkin; it was carved. With the light inside it, it looked orange. Suddenly a great weight lifted off of both of us. We had a pumpkin! We had a jack o’lantern! I sighed an internal sigh of relief and we put the pumpkin on the porch. “Everyone will be scared of our pumpkin,” my daughter said matter-of-factly. It was a given. It was a great pumpkin. It would scare everybody. I felt so much better. But I still felt guilty. I had put my daughter’s pumpkin off to the last minute and we had nearly both paid the price.
Next year, I will get two pumpkins and we will carve them both, much, much earlier. We will have out the decorations. She will have a costume. I swear.