Things I Hate: Carving Pumpkins

I love the Internet 99% of the time, but I hate what it has done to Halloween pumpkin carving. With the invention of Google Images, now everybody thinks they need to be the Michelangelo (he was a sculptor, right?) of pumpkin carving. I blame Google Images and the internet because, prior to their intrusion on our lives, most people were perfectly happy to carve a pumpkin with a smiley or a scary face. Nothing more. In fact, a little less than a decade ago, I would sometimes carve a Spartan “S” or the word “B-O-O” into a pumpkin and people would trick-or-treat at my house and marvel at my work.

Now, such word play barely registers. Everyone nowadays seems to create elaborate landscapes and characters on their pumpkins with multiple levels of brightness and shading. It’s amazing. And what makes me most upset is I can’t do it.

I don’t have the patience. It takes too long. When I’m trying to carve out blades of grass or Harry Potter’s glasses, I shove pumpkin pieces right through and what was supposed to be a “scar and glasses” (if you are a Harry Potter fan, you know) becomes a giant hole in Harry’s forehead. I also found a pattern online to carve Disney’s Ariel (The Little Mermaid, see top-left) onto a pumpkin and it looks sort of like Ariel, but sort of like a cro-magnon woman (truthfully, it was a little closer to Neanderthal-woman because of its larger jaw). I guess I could say it was my pumpkin tribute to evolution, or something.

I’m mad because it makes me feel inferior. And soon, as my children start to get a little older, they’ll think of me as inferior in regards to pumpkin carving. In the old days a Dad could simply refuse to do dumb stuff like carve pumpkins and that father would be revered as “tough” and “workman-like.” Childish and silly things were not “his thing.” But modern fathers aren’t allowed to be aloof, distant, and they cannot adopt a “pumpkin carving is not becoming of a man my age” attitude. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how society frowns on allowing your 5, 7, and 8 year old to use your sharp kitchen knives to carve pumpkins.

No, modern fathering means you must be “into” all things. And I am – except pumpkin carving.

Last night (speaking of letting children use sharp kitchen knives) my oldest daughter carved a pumpkin all by herself. Every single detail, hole, and gutting was the work of her hands, and her hands alone. Halfway through her pumpkin, she said, “Dad, I’m going to put a classic pumpkin face on this thing …you know, just a smile with silly teeth and triangle eyes,” and I nearly hugged her (except my hands were covered with pumpkin guts …it’s not because I’m a Dad “not into hugging”). So simple. Sooooo right. Without knowing it, she flipped the whole dynamic. I’m not carving eloborate city-scapes and multi-toned images onto my pumpkin because I can’t, I’m not doing it because it’s passe … it’s sooooooooo 2009. I’m carving classico Americana pumpkin imagery because it’s tradition. It’s what the Tea Party and Republicans think pumpkins should be …a face, and nothing more. No need for modern carving kits or a Rotozip.

Ah, the mind of a child. Now, I can just be a Dad who isn’t “into all that new-fangled pumpkin carving” and my kids can still have fun carving pumpkins with me and we’ll use my three tried-and-true classic patterns (shown below). And I’ll make pumpkin seeds and eat their candy.

Happy Halloween.