pumpkin carving: another reason to hate October

I have already established in this space my extreme dislike of the corn maze, and I was very heartened when you all responded with similar reactions.

So here’s another reason I hate the festival of fall: pumpkin carving. I just can’t believe the hassle factor, the yuck, the stink of a pumpkin once you actually get inside it.

When I was growing up, we’d each get a pumpkin from the supermarket and a black marker. My dad was probably the most into it of any of us; he’d give his pumpkin eyelashes and teeth and stuff. I stuck with the more traditional triangle-eye. But either way, it took us all about ninety seconds to be done with our jack-o-lanterns for another year, and they’d sit outside our back door for a nice long time, and that was the end of it. My husband thinks that’s sacrilege, but I just don’t have it in me to goop out the guts and roast the seeds for an entire autumn Saturday. I’d rather organize the kids’ sock drawers.

I did let the kids pick out pumpkins, of course, with vague promises to do something with them at some point, and definite plans not to. But Connor (at almost-nine) is old enough to organize certain family arts ‘n crafts projects without me, and last week, I came out to the kitchen to find this:

I wish I could tell you where the face pieces came from… I think Oriental Trading? They’re like Mr. Potato Head pieces that you just poke in. (Even faster and neater than Magic Marker.) But as you can see, Connor went one third-grade-boy step further: he made a big head gash in his pumpkin, stuck a butter knife inside it, and added some ketchup for gore.

He loved it. *I* loved it. It was a terrific jack-o-lantern with absolutely no effort on my part. No scooping out guts! No mess! Since we live in an apartment, we couldn’t put him on the porch to be seen by all– but Connor’s pumpkin found a place of honor right inside our front door.

Cut to: three days later.

SEAMUS: Mom, something smells.

MOM: Really? I don’t smell anything.

The next day:

MAGGIE: Mommy, it smells like stinky fish in here.

MOM: Does it?

The next day:

CONNOR: Mom, I’m going to move my pumpkin over here so–


The entire bottom of the long-rotted pumpkin came off, splattering moldy, rancid pumpkin guts all over our apartment. It was like that episode of Breaking Bad where the guts come through the ceiling. Only this was grosser.

Learn from our mistake: if you puncture a pumpkin, you’ve got no choice but to scoop out what’s inside. If you try to avoid that unpleasant chore, much greater unpleasantness awaits you.

Where do you stand on pumpkin carving?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharilbrooks October 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I love pumpkin carving because it only happens ONCE a year!! I can deal with the guts and seeds just that once. I commiserate with the rancid smells for us apartment dwellers. If we could stash the pumpkins on our front porches, they might just have a longer shelf life, even if they are rotting!


Courtney October 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Love pumpkin carving! But it’s because of good memories from childhood, not because I like scooping out gunk from punpkins:) I grew up on 14 acres of wooded land, and we would carve our pumpkins outside, on a chilly sunny fall day. My mom would bring out cookies and hot apple cider, and we’d have a little bonfire, and carve our pumpkins. What is better than THAT when you are a kid?! Then mom would roast the seeds and I’m not even sure if we liked them that much, but we still ate them, outside on the porch.


Anonymous October 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Courtney the bonfire and hot cider sound nice. I guess bonfires AND pumpkin carving are reasons to hate apartment living. Shari- right? I thought of you trying to render that nastiness pie-worthy and it made me laugh. 


thegirlfriendmom October 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I too am not a huge fan of the pumpkin carving tradition. I did do it a kid, complete with newspapers underneath the pumpkin bottoms, to keep the innards nice and neat. I turned my boyfriend’s kid onto this tradition, complete with carved out pumpkins and placed them outside on the haystack we bought at a local market. Too cute, really. However, about three days later, upon retrieving my mail, I noticed that the maggots, and fruit flies were having a field day in, out and all around the pumpkins. TOO FRIGGIN’ GROSS!


Meredith L. October 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Pumpkin carving is fine by me, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that the inside of a raw pumpkin smells like corpse vomit.


Stephanie Precourt October 26, 2011 at 3:17 am

Ohhhhh goodness. That is nasty. We carve ’em. Mainly because I want to roast the seeds! And We do enjoy putting them outside, altho we never do put candles in them usually or anything. We are having an unusually warm fall so they are rotting on the front stoop right now…



Nikki Lorraine October 26, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The scooping of the guts is a task permanently assigned to the man of our house…always to coincide with my high-volumed-music, scented-scandle-burning bubble bath! I entert he scene just in time to take pictures of their creations.


Anna & Jen October 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Mmmmmmm, rotting pumpkin.  Yankee Candle just might pick it up for next years Halloween scent.  

I read your post and instantly thought of this…You are SO this lady!!!  Except you left yours inside. 🙂



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