It’s been at least a decade since I have taken part in a pumpkin carving ceremony to produce a jack-o-lantern. Last year I didn’t really have the option because we had just returned from our honeymoon, and I’ve been feeling nostalgic about the practice. So this year I decided that there would definitely be pumpkin carving!
I began looking around in the grocery store but all they had were small white pumpkins, produced with human consumption in mind. I asked my local grocer, Andrés, if he could acquire “one of those big orange pumpkins that the Americans use for Halloween” for me and he said that, while they are very rare, he had seen some and he would ask the farmers he buys from. I went to the town market and found some strange acne-covered orange gourds grown and sold with decoration in mind, but none were appropriate for the tradition I wanted to partake in. A few days passed, and Andrés told me that he had asked around, but that all his growers had stopped producing that breed of pumpkin this year because there was just no market for them. I was crushed. I solemnly informed Marga, who had been hearing propaganda and hype about pumpkins from me for weeks, that there would be no Halloween this year.
On Monday, October 27, the doorbell rang. Through the intercom, I heard, “Erik! It’s Andrés. Let me in, I have something for you!” My eyes lit up with that childlike wonder captured in so many Christmas films. Sure enough, Andrés walked up carrying a big orange gourd. He explained that he had seen it at one of his sellers’ stalls and explained about the heartbroken American he knew and they gave it to him free of charge, a price he passed on to me as well. I was ecstatic!
On Wednesday, October 29, I introduced Marga to pumpkin carving.