Monday, 25 October 2010

Monster Pumpkins

In honor of my favorite holiday, this week is devoted to Halloween-related goings-on. 

Pete had no idea what he was getting into when he chose me.  To be fair, he hasn’t experienced the full-on Webb Halloween experience which includes stretching cotton across anything stationary in the house to create a cobwebby look (much like the Addams Family cleaning scenes), replacing lamp lights with red bulbs, hanging specially torn curtains (freshly laundered), and engineering an over the top lawn display with three large (as large as a mature maple) spiderwebs made of rope, a scavenged iron rickety fence, 12 specially created tombstones with epitaphs extending beyond the simple R.I.P about Combusto the Great (a circus performer miscalculating the mixture of TNT and tonsils), Samuel E. Gruel, M.D. (trying to perfect self-surgery), and the slightly disturbing nod to the family heir, Ariel Lamore (succumbed to a broken heart on 14 Feb).  Not to mention the elaborate party eagerly awaited each year, consisting of costume and ghost telling contests and ‘spooky’ scavenger hunts.  But (remember where that incredibly long sentence started) we are progressing slowly and the jack o lantern is the place to start.
My Halloween celebrations since moving to the UK have been pared down (when in Rome...)  I have been reduced to wearing orange and black and maybe a witches hat or bat barrettes.  My first UK Halloween I bought tons of candy and a tiny carving pumpkin from the grocery store.  (I know, travesty, but I have yet to find a local pumpkin patch).  The future jack o lantern I brought home was the biggest I could find and it was about the size of a very large grapefruit.  I then taught Pete to carve a pumpkin (and got very jealous that his first jack o lantern was better than my 28th).  But this was about a week and a half before Halloween night and he couldn’t understand doing this so early.  I had to explain about alerting neighbourhood families that we were a Trick-or-Treat friendly house.  This then led to stories about avoiding houses with no porch light on, etc.  Halloween night came and I sat anxious for the Trick or treaters.  Finally there was a knock. I jumped up (complete with hat and scary glove) and greeted the little monster, passed over some candy and a ‘Happy Halloween.’  That was the last Trick or Treater I saw for three years (although I was always ready).
We moved to a larger house and I decided I had had enough of this non-event Halloween and threw a Halloween party.  I created our first couple costume (bee and bee-keeper) and sent out the invitations.  Very few friends came dressed up and those that did were a bit non-descript (although one came as her research subject (academics, what can you do?) and one pre-sent a poster relevant to her costume.  Pete’s work friends talked him out of his part of our costume (I have yet to get him in a Halloween costume, but they made it up to me on his stag night).  But the night was saved by the trick-or-treaters.  There were tons, and they were costumed.  Awesome!!!! 
This year is a bit low-key, but the pumpkins are bigger.  These seem to be the part of the Halloween tradition that Pete has really grabbed.  He researches and agonizes over his design for days.  This year our monster pumpkins have finally come close to the size of jack o lanterns of my childhood.  Pete got very excited about the pile of monster pumpkins at the grocery.  He grabbed the two biggest and placed them in the trolley.  We then realized that we had no room for our weekly shop and that we were going to have to walk these pumpkins home along with our weekly shop.  We tried not to think about it.  It took us about twice as long to walk home with three rest stops in which our fingers refused to straighten when we pried them off the carrier bags. 
Two days later, the monster pumpkins are still uncarved.  They are being moved around the kitchen, from the counter, to the table, to the floor, back to the table as we go about our daily routines.  It’s like they are too big to contemplate (in comparison to our usual).  They are going to need a very special design (we moved on from faces pretty quickly).  To date we have done three faces, a cat, a ghost, and a witch.  This year Pete is thinking about dancing skeletons.  You have to admire the commitment.  Now if I could only get him in costume for something other than the stag do.  Helping me hand out candy will have to do for now. 

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