October 31, 2012
For the first time in 26 years, my husband and I undertook the task of carving our Halloween pumpkins without a single child anywhere in sight. To be honest, I put off the task until the very last minute, dreading the inevitable feeling of sadness I knew I’d feel with it just being the two of us. I just couldn’t imagine the back patio, dogs, doors and windows not being covered with slick pumpkin innards and seeds, always the scene when we would turn our four loose on the annual carving ceremony.
Even for the past year or two, with our youngest in college, she’d make the trek home to do the deed with us and whomever else showed up to help. This year, it was just us parents. It didn’t feel right somehow, but I wasn’t about to skip carving altogether. That really wouldn’t feel right.
My husband and I set about placing newspapers and garbage bags in the general carving area, using less than we ever had before because, of course, we’d make less of a mess. The dogs ran outside with us to see what all the fuss was about, but then they looked inquisitively at us and back to the staging area as if to ask, “This looks familiar, but where are the fun people?”
We drew on the faces of our respective jack-o-lanterns and cut the rounded tops off of the pumpkin, cracking open the rinds to reveal that awful-wonderful smell of pumpkin insides. Digging in with first our hands, then with spoons to scrape the strings off the inner walls, something came over both of us. There we were, standing right beside each other, hands full and dripping with pumpkin slime, strings and seeds. As if on cue, we both looked at each other at the same time and grinned.
I think he made the first move, but I don’t think it matters. All I know is that one second I was standing there with my perfectly-styled hair, black sweatshirt and black jeans, and the next minute I had stringy pumpkin goo slopped in my hair, in my mouth and down the front of my shirt.
Oh no, he didn’t.
The rest of the festivities are a blur, but I will say that I held my own in this no-holds-barred slime-fest that had us and yes, I believe even the dogs, laughing uncontrollably and having a ball.
When all was said and done, we surveyed the damage and felt quite proud of ourselves. There were globs of pumpkin strings and seeds sliding slowly down the outsides of the doors and windows on the patio. All three dogs had orange specks in their eyelashes and fur. Their tails were wagging, and they too were grinning. Pumpkin seeds and strings were all over the pool deck, grill and seat cushions. Yes, we had far exceeded any damage all four of our kids had ever done, and it was just us two.
The jack-o-lanterns turned out great, by the way. Mine has long eyelashes and earrings, and his sports a frightening scowl and some kind of power tool.
Sometimes, this empty-nester thing is OK.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of two books: “Southern Fried White Trash” and her newest, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear” (released October 15). She is also a regular weekly guest on FOX News Radio station WYXC 1270 AM on Wednesdays during the Live Drive at 5. Townsend has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 Television News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. She currently travels throughout the southeast, meeting readers at book signings and speaking publicly at various events.