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Halloween means it’s time to carve pumpkins

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Last week I went with my first grader on a field trip to Tate’s Farm in Meridianville. It was a wonderful field trip, even if it was a bit chilly. The trip included a hay maze, animals to pet, playground and, of course, the highlight of the trip a hayride and pumpkin picking.
My first grader was already thinking about how his pumpkin would be carved into a jack-o-lantern before we were ever back on the hay trailer with it! Usually as we carve pumpkins each year, I tell the legend of jack-o-lanterns.
The jack-o-lantern legend is from Ireland. A man named Jack sat down to have a drink with the Devil. (Why you would do that in the first place makes me wonder!) Anyway, Jack was rather stingy and did not want to pay for the drink and tricked Satan into turning himself into a coin. As soon as he did Jack snaps up the coin and puts it into his wallet with a small cross. Jack made Satan promise not to trouble him for a year and not to take him to Hell if Jack should die in that time. Satan promises and after a year shows up with revenge in mind. Jack being rather clever (By the way, there is a difference between clever and smart!) tricks Satan again this time having him climb a tree to pick some fruit and then carving a cross on the tree preventing him from climbing down. This time Jack makes Satan promise to leave him alone for ten years. Well, before that time is up Jack dies and Heaven will not let him in and Satan says no, too leaving Jack to wonder the earth with only a small ember to guide him. Afraid that something might happen to the ember, Jack again being clever carves out a turnip to protect the ember.
The Irish actually used turnips for their jack-o-lanterns until they immigrated to America. They found pumpkins to be more plentiful than turnips in their new country so they switched.
I also read a wonderful story using a pumpkin as the illustration for what it means to be a Christian. You see Our Heavenly Father takes us in when we are dirty from sin. He washes us clean, cleans all the nasty stuff out of us, gives us a new face and puts His light in us.
As for carving a pumpkin, personally, I love the pumpkin carving kits. They are much safer than the “knife” method. We bought a kit several years ago and I just store it with our other Halloween things.
I also enjoy the pumpkin carving patterns. Granted, this may be “cheating” just a little, but for those of us who are not creative carvers the patterns are life savers. I’ve found a wonderful web site by “Pumpkin Masters,” which has tips on carving, keeping the pumpkin fresh, different types of illumination, among other things. The web site is www.pumpkinmasters.com.
Some of their suggestions include, using a little bleach mixed with water to keep the mold down, keep the jack-o-lantern in the refrigerator when not on display, and soak a shriveling pumpkin in water to revive it. This site also has several free patterns to download.
Not into the “carving” thing? You can still make a jack-o-lantern of sorts by using acrylic paint to paint the face or design on your pumpkin.
Of course, pumpkins aren’t just for jack-o-lanterns. This year I have seen many great ideas in magazines and on the internet for using pumpkins in decorating. One that I really loved was using small pumpkins to spell out the word “welcome” with each pumpkin having a different letter painted in acrylic paint.
Another idea I liked was hollowing out the pumpkin and putting a vase filled with an autumn bouquet inside. This would look great on a Thanksgiving table.
I’ve often noticed that pumpkins in magazines have such a brilliant shine and wondered how they got that look. Well, this year I stumble on the answer, but I can’t remember the magazine that I found it in! Luckily, I do remember the answer. They shine them with vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. (If someone knows where this came from, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due. Thanks.)
If you have a question, tip, or suggestion for Mom’s Corner, please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com.

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