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Murdering a pumpkin is the quintessential way to celebrate the fall and Halloween seasons. Carving the perfect Jack O' Lantern is not a skill that everyone is blessed with, however. Though the activity is frequently attributed to being a family affair, it's one of the least kid-friendly ways to celebrate the spooky season.
You'll Be Doing All The Work
Pumpkin carving - jabbing knives into stiff gourds - isn't exactly a safe activity, especially when little one are involved. So be prepared to take on 99% of the work yourself, including ridding the pumpkin of its slimy guts when your kiddos proclaim that it's "too disgusting." At least you'll get plenty of practice muttering curse words at a volume too low for your kids to hear as you accidentally whack off another tooth or break another one of those cheap metal sawtooth blades.
The Pressure Is On
Internet peer pressure doesn't only affect the grown-ups, and depending on how old your kids are, you may be tasked with carving Davinci-esque designs into your pumpkin so you can have a social media-worthy photo. Luckily, my kids picked simple classic faces this year, so we dodged that bullet. Plus, I love the nostalgia of the more timeless Jack O' Lantern faces, don't you?
You Gon' Make A Big Mess
You know those stock photos of families smiling jovially, having themselves a nice bonding experience with their kids while carving their pumpkins without a stray seed or strand of slime to be found? Yeah, that's not reality. That gross sludge is gonna get everywhere - on your table, on the floor, on the kids, on you - so everyone is gonna need a good wash up after you're done.
Someone's Gonna Suggest Roasting The Darn Seeds
Look, I love cooking and baking and I love me some pumpkin seeds, but my hate for pumpkin guts runs deep and I refuse to make them myself. Never fails, though, that someone is gonna have the bright idea to attempt to roast those hundreds of seeds, which means instead of tossing all of that disgusting goo into the trashcan, someone (you) has to sort the seeds from the slime in order to rinse them and make them into something you'd want to put in your mouth.
They're Gonna Rot. Fast.
Once the pumpkins are carved, the time is ticking before they begin to soften and implode on themselves in a mass of gelatinous nightmares. If you thought pumpkin guts were nasty, baby you ain't seen nothin' yet. The lesson here is: don't carve them more than a week before Halloween, at the very most.
Hope You Like Ants. And Flies.
Naturally, a moist, fragrant pumpkin is going to attract all manner of pests (not excluding the mischievous neighborhood teens), so you could quickly find yourself with an army of vermin on your front porch. Make a solution of 1 TBS of bleach with 1 gallon of water and spray the inside and outside of the pumpkin daily to ward them off.
In the end, is it all worth it? It's all a matter of perspective. I got a sense of relief and accomplishment once everything was cleaned up, the kids had stopped fighting with each other about whose pumpkin was better, and they looked really stinkin' cute despite the simple designs we chose. So I guess we'll continue with this messy Halloween tradition year after year and manage our expectations - and our gag reflexes - accordingly.