A few days ago, I was thinking about carving my Halloween pumpkin. Unfortunately, the squirrels had nibbled it a bit, and I was considering buying another until I discovered that the grocery store was all sold out. Why am I carving a pumpkin, you might ask? After all, my kids are grown and/or away at college. But old habits die hard.
Then came the snow, a highly unusual occurrence for October in New Jersey—even for the end of October. In fact, I can’t rightly recall that it’s snowed in October in the 29 years that I’ve lived in the “Garden State.”
The snow sent everything into a tizzy, of course. Tree limbs fell, power was lost, the town robo-called a “State of Emergency.” The weekend before Halloween was turning out to be not at all what I expected, at least weather-wise.
This made me all the more determined to locate a pumpkin somewhere and carve it by Monday. I’ve been making a Halloween Jack-O’-Lantern for at least 28 years (the age of my eldest son) if not much longer (I may have missed a few years when I was in college). My dad always made a big deal of carving the pumpkin, and like many other holiday traditions, it’s stuck with me. There is nothing quite like walking up my dark hill at night and seeing the glittering candle-glow in Mr. (or Ms) Pumpkin’s mouth.
I realize that I have no control over the weather, and very little control over what happens in the Universe at large. But there are little things we can do as human beings that keep us sane when chaos reigns around us. For some, it’s meditation or mantra. For others, it’s listening to Bach. Maybe it’s something as simple as straightening the kitchen counter.
For me, carving a pumpkin is just one of those things, so even if I can’t get to the store tomorrow, and even if all the pumpkins are gone in the entire county, I am going to carve my squirrel-nibbled, snow-encrusted pumpkin and light a candle in the name of good old-fashioned predictability (which basically means that the only thing we can really count on is that the unpredictable is bound to happen).