We spread the newspaper on the table, letting the ads for new cars mix with the letters to the editor and the article about the new low-income apartment complex in town. A new tablecloth, thick with print that smudges our fingers.
Then we carry in the pumpkins; orange, plump, expectant. They rest calmly on the newspaper, faces blank. With the aid of a trusty carving knife, the pumpkins take off their hats. We peer inside at the mixture of tangled orange tendrils and white tear-drop seeds. Then in we plunge, hands grasping slimy squishy slippery pumpkin guts. It’s hard to decide how to feel with the unusual sensation of pumpkin guts in the palm of our hands: grossed out or strangely satisfied? Once the hands have scooped out all they can, it’s time to call in the back-up: a trusty spoon. The spoons slide along the walls of the pumpkin, smoothing it into a more desirable texture. Now the pumpkin is ready to hold a candle.
But it still needs a face. So we find a pen and scrunch up our own faces in thought. What kind of eyes and what kind of nose? The curve of a smile or the downward creep of a frown? The outline of a face appears in shaky pen marks across the uneven surfaces of the pumpkins. Then in plunges the carving knife. The pumpkins take on a personality. The plump round one cheerily grins despite missing teeth. The tall thin one shows its fangs in a stay-away-from-me pose. The biggest one stares oddly forward through square eyes.
Faceless no more, the pumpkins are ready for the most magical part. Little candles are dropped inside and lit, and the dining room light switch is flicked off. Faces flicker and glow through the darkness, pumpkins no more…
They are Jack ‘O Lanterns, fully prepared to greet the night.
Come, Halloween! We’re ready for you.