29 October 2010

Things I'm Learning - Hallowe'en Edition

I grew up in a family that didn't celebrate Hallowe'en. As kids we dressed in costume for school events, but we never went trick or treating or were given pillow cases full of candy. So like most of the other beloved traditions of mainstream childhood (we also didn't sit on Santa's lap or have Easter egg hunts) I edge up to these events in Margaret Meade mode: observe the actions of the tribe and try not to be too obtrusive or obviously out of place. HWSNBN has a very standard background, so there are expectations about holidays. Which is fine, it's just that every time is kind of the first time for me; I'm learning as I go. Add in all the first-time stuff you get up to as a parent, and well... I'm often a little bit at sea.

I was lucky enough to be invited, along with The Imp and his Grandpa, on a trip to the pumpkin patch in Richmond last weekend. I'd never been before and had no idea what to expect, but given that The Imp has talked about it non-stop since, am guessing that it will have to be an annual event from here on out.

Things I didn't know:

1) It's a big deal. Not just a stroll out into a muddy field full of pumpkins. No. Parking lot directions of military precision, farm animals on display, duck ponds and bridges, musicians, dancing pumpkins, hay rides complete with fiddles and banjos. All week The Imp's been excitedly telling me several times a day, "We say 'yeehaw!'" I think having experienced it once, he would very much like a hay ride from his bedroom to the breakfast table every morning, shouting "Yeehaw!" the whole way.

2) The price of admission includes a pumpkin to take home. Why I didn't know this, I don't know, maybe because I've never been a big celebrant of Hallowe'en. Or it could be that I'm just not very clever.

3) There's a corn maze. I've never been in a corn maze before. I knew I was capable of getting lost - as soon as I'm inside a shopping mall I get totally turned around in about 17 seconds. A corn maze is a lot like that, but with more mud. And decidedly less perfume-sample smell.

Child of the Corn

4) I don't actually know what to do with a pumpkin. And now I have an ample supply of them sitting on my kitchen counter, because there were three of us. Three pumpkins. Sitting on my counter. And I really, really don't like pumpkin pie. It would be no exaggeration to say that I despise pumpkin pie and everything about it. The texture, the flavour: bleck.

So on Monday when I went to get the Imp from daycare I took one of the pumpkins with the intention of leaving it there.

Much consternation on the part of The Imp. "MY pumpkin!" He shouted, and stomped his feet, and would not be consoled or convinced that leaving it at daycare to play with the next day was a good idea. He did not care that we still had two more at home. He was especially adamant that he WOULD NOT SHARE it with his friends. "MY pumpkin. It's MINES!" (Yes, he says "mines" instead of "mine". It's logical, if you think about it. Your becomes yours. Her becomes hers. Even his ends in an "s". Why shouldn't "my" become "mines"?)

I really hadn't anticipated this strong a reaction. The Imp's usually the first kid to share his toys, he readily gives up a spot on the playground swings if there's another kid waiting, and he's generally a pretty laid-back little dude. (Since we discovered his dairy allergy, anyway.) No amount of cajoling was effective. Back home and onto the kitchen counter went the pumpkin.

My pumpkin! MINES!

Now, understand, The Imp has no context for pumpkins. He doesn't know they're food, he's never seen a jack-o'-lantern. We've never had one in the house before. We've never really celebrated Hallowe'en with him, because for the first one he was only a few months old, and last year he was not even 18 months. And we live in a high rise apartment building, so we don't even get trick or treaters at the door. There didn't seem to be a lot of point.

So I asked him, as we were cleaning up after dinner that evening.

Me: What do you think pumpkins are for? What do you want to do with your pumpkins?
The Imp: Fling them around.

I was not expecting that.

Me: You want to fling them around?
The Imp: Yeah.


Me: Honey, we don't fling pumpkins around. (Fumbling) We... we carve them into jack-o'-lanterns. Yeah, jack-o'-lanterns! We make faces on the pumpkins. And we can make soup. Pumpkin soup. And seeds, we can do something with the seeds! We eat pumpkins. We do not fling them around.
The Imp: Soup! We eat soup! We eat soup now!

Me: Um, no. We have to make the soup first.
The Imp: Okay. (Pause, thinking.) We say "yeehaw?"

Me: Yeehaw!*

By Tuesday morning, HWSNBN and I had managed to talk enough about how good it feels to get presents and how nice it would be to make his friends feel that way by giving the pumpkin to the daycare, that he consented to the transportation of his! pumpkin! to school with him. And he allowed that his friends could look at it, but they could not touch it. We placed it in plain view on a high counter so everyone could see it. He was skeptical, but let it sit there all day.

Wednesday, he allowed the teachers to touch it, but not all the teachers. There was a substitute, and she was not! allowed! Only the every day teachers could touch it. But he did relent enough to allow them to take if off the counter to show it to the kids at circle time. But he insisted that "friends not touch it!"

Thursday when I went to pick him up, he came running to me shouting "Jack-o'-lantern! Jack-o'-lantern!" at the top of his lungs, and grabbed my hand to drag me to his pumpkin, now sitting on a low table, and yes, carved into a jack-o'-lantern. The teacher told me that while he was still proprietary about it, he was happy to let other kids touch it, and help scoop out seeds and whatnot. Yay, progress! Clearly this was a big deal to him, as he woke me up at four this morning, by shouting "Jack-o'-lantern! My jack-o'-lantern!" at the top of his lungs in his sleep.

Hallowe'en's this weekend. And I have two not-small pumpkins on my kitchen counter. I'm sure I can manage to carve some triangular orifices and a gap-toothed grin into them with The Imp's help - after all he's more experienced at it than I am, having already done it once. But then what do I do with them?

For all my blustery bravado in front of The Imp, I really don't know what to do with a pumpkin. Anyone have a soup recipe they can recommend? How do I make the seeds edible?

I am wide open to suggestions, people. I'll make anything but pie.

Or I suppose I could just fling them around.

*This is the actual conversation we had. Verbatim, no embellishments. In a thousand years, even with a thousand monkeys pecking randomly at a thousand keyboards, I could never come up with "fling them around" as an answer to that question. 

Also: when did we stop spelling Hallowe'en with an apostrophe? I must have missed that memo.


  1. Search Marthastewart.com for a fab pumpkin seed recipe (sweet & spicy) and we make pumpkin & sweet potato curry - delish! Any recipe that calls for butternut squash can be substituted with pumpkin with delicious results!

  2. Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins are quite good. And quite a lot different from pumpkin pie.

  3. So funny. T has been talking about the "danncing pumpkin coming to our house" all week.

    We also have 3 pumpkins that need carving and a weather report that doesn't look pumpkin carving friendly (I prefer to keep the mess outside if I can).

    I usually try to make some seeds for a snack (I'll have to check MS.com for the one Emily recommended).

    Love Amber's pumpkin bread or muffin suggestions. I might have to try that this year, as Lil T loves muffins.

    And Emily can I come to your house for some of the pumpkin & sweet potato curry?

  4. I'd advise against eating any pumpkins that are not
    Organic or come from a reputable farm. Pumpkins are known to pull toxins out of the soil. Some farmers plant them just for that reason.

    And I am curious - why no Halloween or other holidays?

  5. hi there! i'm your newest twitter and blog follower, stoked to have found you on twitter! yay for canadian mom bloggers putting out quality content. hope to see you 'round mine. i'll be back. as for pumpkins...outside of toasting the seeds (yummy!), i've got nothing for ya! except i do like the sound/thought/imagery of flinging them around! heh heh. pumpkin toss.

  6. Thanks everyone, for the suggestions. Next year I'll know what to do. :)

    Ally - my parents are not Christian. Since most mainstream holidays are based on the Christian faith, we didn't take part in them. I don't know what they had against Hallowe'en, but since we didn't celebrate anything else, I never gave it much thought. :)

    Hi Selena - thanks for stopping by!