First, I’ll get my new story/promotion out of the way. I have a story in the anthology “One Yuletide Knight” that is now up for pre-order and will be available as an ebook on November 2, 2017 with the print version available shortly after. You can purchase it at: One Yuletide Knight
With October 31, Halloween, approaching, I thought it might be fun to look at how people perceived that date in the 1870s in what most would call the West. Below are some actual pieces from papers of that time.
Here we have almost an advertisement for the evening from the Atchison Globe from Friday October 31, 1879 issue in Atchison, Kansas
And this warning from the Lawrence, Kansas, Lawrence Republican Daily Journal of October 24, 1878. Seems mischief has been around for longer than we may have thought.
For the history of the day we can thank the Sedalia, Missouri, Sedalia Daily Democrat of Saturday, November 2, 1878.
Of course no Halloween would be without the special events that take place. Here from Alden, Iowa issue of the October 10, 1879 issue, we have the following
And finally this clip from a piece called “The Fairy Quest” from the Saturday, October 4, 1879 issue of the Republic County Journal of Scandia, Kansas.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of what folks back in the 1870s thought about October 31 and Halloween. There are so many stories, and I’m sure each of you have your own. However you celebrate of not, enjoy the fall season and don’t eat too much candy. I know I won’t be bobbing for apples like I did when I was younger, but I might have a piece of…
Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women’s History
Here’s a blog post similar to one I wrote for my own site last week. I hope you all enjoy it.
Today’s the day (or night) that goblins and zombies take to the streets. It’s the spookiest of holidays, and during this season, Americans love to spend money on their kids – including their furry ones. According to the National Retail Federation, the average amount spent on Halloween is about $75, on candy, decorations, and costumes.
Halloween Express lists the top 10 pet costumes. Those include Superman, Ghostbusters, bees, spiders, and lions. The NRF estimates people spend about $350 million on pet costumes, outlaying $1 for every $3 spent on children’s outfits.
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $60 billion on their furry friends last year and will likely spend more than that in 2016. From sweaters and raincoats to sporting team t-shirts and holiday costumes, pet clothing is big business. Practical wear is just as important as fashionista statements, maybe more so. Booties to keep paws clear of snow and ice and life jackets for outings on the boat, clothing and outdoor wear remain popular with pet parents.
I bought holiday scarves for Sage, my blind springer spaniel, but that’s as close as I ever got to “dressing” her. However, one year I did dress Cody my cocker spaniel as a fireman for Halloween, complete with a red hat. He wasn’t terribly thrilled, but he sure looked cute!
Pets may not be very cooperative for playing dress-up. If you plan to take your dog trick-or-treating or have your cat participate in your Halloween party, make sure you “practice” prior to the big night. Also, make sure the costume properly fits your pet, and consider breed, weight, and measurements before purchasing, and ensure your pet can see, breathe, and drink normally with the outfit on.
Have you ever dressed your pet for Halloween? Wishing you and your pet a safe and fun Halloween!
Gayle M. Irwin is a freelance writer and author living in Wyoming. She creates inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She’s composed several books, including the recently released Tail Tales: Stories of Pets Who Touched My Heart and Impacted My Life. She is currently working on two more children’s pet stories, including a humorous book about a cat trapped in a school and an educational book about dog rescue. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.
Being an author of Celtic/ Roman historical adventures, I’ve tended to write about the Celtic festival of Samhain (what became the Eve of all Hallows Christian festival) at this time of year… but here’s something just a wee but different.
Hallowe’en stories of witches have been told around the firesides for many generations – and none more so than in the place where I live in Scotland. My village is Kintore, in Aberdeenshire, and one claim to fame is that Kintore was the home of a famous witch named #Isobel Cockie who met a sad demise in 1597.
There have been many great Witch Hunts in the past in Scotland but one of the greatest was the one of 1597. The witch trials took place all over Scotland and it’s believed that some 400 people were brought to court, around 200 of whom ended up being tied to the stake and burned as a witch (some male, though most female). The one consolation appears to be that the condemned was probably strangled first, though that can’t always be corroborated. BTW: It cost 4 shillings for “four fadome of Towis” which I understand to be lengths of rope. Currently about 24 US cents! The hangman-Jon Justice (what an appropriate name)- was paid about 43 US cents to execute each person.
Reasons for Isobel Cockiebeing hanged varied from stopping cows from producing healthy milk and making it poisonous; stopping a woman from being able to churn her milk into cream, butter or cheese; making people that she had ‘bad words’ with fall ill with fevers- some of the victims not surviving; robbing people of the power of speech and having the ability to return it via potions and drugs when pressed to do so; and other such instances.
A particularly bad accusation for Isobel was encountering Thomas Makkie ‘Reader of Kintore’ one dark night. It’s said she laid her hand on the shoulder of his five year old horse and it promptly fell down and died. The ‘Reader of Kintore’ was an alternative name of the era for the schoolmaster (Thomas Makkie was Maister of the Inglis Scuill in Kintore) and as such would have been a respected worthy of the village and someone whose testimony would have been well received. Note: The school lessons were conducted in the King’s English (Inglis) rather than the local Doric dialect.
Dancing with the devil, and especially on Hallowe’en, was the most damning indictment for a witch but it appears that the bold Isobel Cockie from Kintore went one better than that. She was said to be part of a witches coven who met regularly in the nearby city of Aberdeen – 15 miles away and presumably nothing for a witch to fly, but a long walk to undertake for a dance! Isobel, also known as “Tibby” was dancing along with her fellow witch cronies at the Market and Fish Cross, also at the Meal Market, between 12 and 1 a.m. on the Halloween of 1595 “betuixt tuell and ane houris at nycht, to the mercat and fishe croces of Aberdene, an meil mercet of the sam”.
The Devil was playing his ‘Trump’(I kid you not, that’s what they called it – it was a form of Jew’s Harp) but ‘Tibby’ didn’t think too much of his unmelodious playing and snatched the instrument from his mouth, after which it seems she played it herself. “In thequhilk danse, thow was the ring ledar, next to Thomas Leyis: and becaws the Dewill playit nocht so melodiousle and weill as thow crewit, thou tuik his instrument (Trump) out of his moutht, than tuik him on the chaftis therwith, and plaid thi self theron to thi hail cumpanie”My translation of ‘took him on the chaftis therewith’ stretches to she slapped him on the cheeks, but please don’t quote me on that one since it’s the only translation I can find, and although I’ve lived in Kintore for 28 years I still ‘canna ‘spik a’ Doric’!
Other reasons for being found guilty of witchcraft that year included murder by using magic; poisoning meat; making wax images to create a storm and removing body parts from the dead to use in witchly potions (fingers, toes and genitals being popular). More information can be read HERE.
So, why were so many witches burnt at the stake in 1597? Well, the answer is that was a particularly bad year but there were others nearly as dire before, and also, after that one. Witch trials had occurred more sporadically over the centuries but by the 1590s it became a serious cause for complaint.
The Scottish king of the time was James VI, the son of the famous Mary Queen of Scots. He is also the James known in more modern times to many around the world as having sponsored the translation of the bible which became known as the ‘Authorised King James (VI) Version of the Bible’ of 1611. (NB- He also became King James I of England in 1603 and afterwards King of Great Britain)
And…James VI was very interested in witchcraft…
James VI’s curiosity about all things witch like was probably kindled after his visit to Denmark, the home of his young Queen Anne. In 1589, after a betrothal by proxy, the 14 year old Anne set out to sail to Scotland but it seems she ended up in Norway. On hearing of the plight of his newly betrothed, James VI set off himself to fetch her.
After a wedding in Oslo he spent around a month celebrating in Denmark and learning about all sorts of things of interest to him before they both returned to Scotland. Storms are a frequent occurrence in the North Sea but for some people of the time, natural weather systems were just a bit too ordinary.There were some who believed that witches’ spells had caused the winds to blow the ship off course- but which ship? Sources vary as to whether it was the ship Anne was on that was blown off course and ended up in Norway, or that it was the ship carrying both of them on theirreturn to Scotland. Whichever, it seems a furore happened! Many were accused of the witchery. (Denmark being a country familiar to witch-hunts probably meant James VI had learned a lot of trial techniques while he was there.)
The North Berwick Witch Trials of 1590 implicated 70 people, some of whom were high born (5th Earl of Bothwell), and ran for two years. It’s documented that James VI was personally involved.
Being an avid scholar, he deemed the study of witchcraft and demonology a branch of theology. The interest in witch hunting continued for James VI and in 1597 he wrote a treatise in 3 books called ‘Daemonology’in which he laid out the principles of Witchery (as he saw it) and the reasons for the church needing to be thorough in stamping out the practice.
But back to Kintore’s Isobel Cockie…It’s not documented where Isobel Cockie’s remains were interred after her burning at the stake but earlier this year (2016) some 900 skeletons were found under St. Nicholas Kirk in the centre of Aberdeen. This was the very place where those accused of witchcraft in 1597 were chained to the walls while awaiting trial. Is Isobel one of them? We’ll probably never know but no doubt detailed examination results on the skeletons will follow later.
I think on the Hallowe’en of 1597, the witches covens in Scotland must have been very quiet affairs!
Whatever, and however, you may be celebrating this Hallowe’en make sure not to play the devil’s ‘Trump’ (NB: statement not meant to be political) .
Nancy Jardine writes about Celtic Festivals like Samhain (Halloween) in her Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures.
Once upon a time, a few days before Halloween, my friend ME called and said, “There are thirteen men under my house. They’re leveling it. For the second time in five years.” She then invited David and me to go with her and her husband to see the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center, on the University of Texas campus. The next day, I presented ME, via email, the following verse. It first appeared at Telling the Truth, Mainly and is making its annual reappearance here. Mr. Poe might be horrified, but since ME is my Muse, the end product was bound to be a bit quirky.
I got home last night in plenty of time for trick-or-treating. Sadly, it was because my school’s volleyball team, which played amazingly considering they were playing through a tragedy (The head coach lost his son suddenly. The team took a double hit because one of their starters is the coach’s granddaughter and the child of the man who passed away.) lost out in the semifinals of their conference tournament. Be that as it may, I was there when the steady stream of ghouls, goblins, and superheroes came to our door.
Only they never came. We had a grand total of seven trick-or-treaters (not tricks-or-treatsers, despite what Charles Schulz said) four of our relatives and the grandkids of the people across the street. Nowadays kids seem to trick-or-treat by going by car to homes of people they know. I’m sure there are still neighborhoods where the kids go door-to-door, but it’s not like it used to be. And who can disagree? There are a lot of scary people out there. But back in my day, it was just a simpler time. We were more innocent, more naïve. And somehow, all my friends and I survived. Each year on whatever night trick-or-treating takes place (Does anyone else remember when it was just always on Halloween or am I making that up?) I am taken back to vivid memories from my childhood.
The first costume I can remember having was a Frankenstein’s monster outfit. I don’t remember where we got it–probably Arlan’s, which was as close as we had to a Wal-Mart back then. I loved the green mask and wore it all the time. Except at dinner–the mouth hole was too small. I got it because I loved the movie, which I saw when Mom and Dad let me stay up to watch Chiller Theater on channel thirteen one Friday night. It was scary but in a good way.
My favorite costume coincided with my best haul ever. I got a hard plastic Batman cowl for the previous birthday, if I recall correctly. It was adult size so I had to put a folded towel in the back to make it fit, but it looked amazing! I hadn’t planned to wear it for trick-or-treating, but it rained hard that evening. I didn’t want to miss out, so Dad pulled out an old dark poncho and I put on the cowl. I was toasty dry the whole time. And as a bonus, the weather kept all the wimpy kids at home. By the end of the evening, people were pouring their entire bowls in my bag because no one else had come. I was sick for a week!
My least favorite memory is tempered by a really good one. We had some neighbors who lived at the end of a short wooded walk. My cousins and I were nearly done with our rounds when we stopped there. I was last in line and, just as we entered a dark spot on the walk, somebody darted out from behind a tree and ripped my bag from my hands. It happened so fast I didn’t even get a glance at the person. I had a bag full of goodies and then suddenly I didn’t. I stood there, too shocked to even shout. When I finally got words, I told my neighbors what happened. They got a spare bag from their house and gave me everything they had. My cousins even split their haul with me. I ended up with as much as I started with. My cousins Jan and Joyce (known by our whole family simply as “The Twins”) were, and still are, wonderful and generous people.
So what are your most vivid memories of Halloweens past?
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.
This may be a short post. Why? Well, it’s been a challenging year. Bad in many ways and wonderful in others. Sounds like regular life, doesn’t it? Most know I had in excess of $40,000 dollars worth of damage to my home in June. So far, thanks to gofundme I have had $1,700 to work with, along with the generosity of friends who added physical labor to get a least half of the damage personal property out of the basement. We won’t go into the lack of accountability of others like insurance, utilities, government. That is just what is. We’ve all experienced such events in our lives.
Now, I’ve had some pretty stressful days, but I also know, things do have a way of working out, or what goes around comes around. Here’s where the title comes in. As Halloween comes around, talk of spirits and angels takes center stage. This will continue through the new year. When life gets pretty yucky, it is the knowledge that things will work out that keeps you from doing injury to yourself or others. Doesn’t mean you don’t want to, but…
The other side of the coin is the wonderful things that happen. This Halloween, in fact today, my second novella is being released. Called Angel of Salvation Valley, it deals with the stuff life throws at us and the choices we make as we make life’s journey. I’m pretty happy, no proud of this story. It has angels, devils and a few other fun characters. I’m going to give away a copy of the novella to one commenter on October 21.
In the meantime, have a great week, month and year. Enjoy what life gives you and love and honor those who are making the journey with you. Follow your passions, for they seem to be the key to the joy we share with others.
As a kid, I loved all things spooky so Halloween was a favorite holiday. I grew up on a farm in Michigan so by necessity, our costumes had to look good over or under something very warm or incorporate a coat into the overall design. This led to some pretty creative costumes. We didn’t have a lot of money but fortunately my mother is a talented seamstress and put together some great outfits for us over the years.
Our neighbors’ homes were too far away to allow us to walk. Instead mom drove us from house to house so we could beg for treats. We would dash into the cold, ring the doorbell, and scream “Trick or Treat” before shouting a hasty “thank you” as we rushed back to the warm car. Some people made us slow down so they could admire our costumes, others just smiled after us as we ran away.
Despite the hurried nature of our Halloween outings, I enjoyed the sound of the rustling leaves underfoot as we ran from door to door and the sight of bare branches reaching toward a full moon. Empty fields stretched in all directions, a reminder that the harvest was complete.
Today I live in a suburb of Atlanta and never know if it will be hot or cold come Halloween night. My neighborhood is small and wooded, but with lots of friendly neighbors so we’ll walk from house to house to Trick or Treat as we have since we brought Willow home from China when she was a year old. She’s thirteen now and I think this will be her last year to go trick or treating, which is sad and I wonder if my mother felt the same way when my siblings and I few too old for this tradition.
There are no bare fields where I live now but we do have an owl that spends late summer and fall living in our backyard so I trust I’ll hear a mournful hoot or two as we wander from one lit porch to the next. The trees are not quite bare yet but there are lots of leaves to crunch underfoot.
I’m sure Willow will get plenty of candy; she always does. My neighbors are generous, as is my daughter. She’s not much of a candy girl so I can always count of a snicker bar or two coming my way and, despite my diet, I will gladly accept.
On this spookiest of days, let me wish you all a wonderful Halloween filled with the activities and small touches that make this holiday special for you. And have a snickers.
This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction
I’ve always loved October. In our part of the world it’s when the trees put on their finest and each vies with the other to be the most outstanding. The result is a scene that is breathtaking, as with the naked eye you drink in the brilliant colors displayed on a backdrop of blue sky and white fluffy clouds. I often stand admiring the beauty around me and thank God for creating a world for us to enjoy and appreciate.
In my childhood, at some point in early October, we’d bring out the rakes. Since we had a very large yard this was a chore and was given to us four children to do. We absolutely loved it! It was never work to us, but playtime instead. We’d rake up a big pile of leaves and throw them at each other; then rake again. We’d take turns lying on the ground while the others totally covered the lucky one with a mound of leaves. I can still remember the sound of the crispy leaves as they landed on me; the freshness of the cool October air; the laughter as we ganged up on one another. As a final treat, when we finally tired of playing in them, we actually raked the leaves into piles, put them in a wheelbarrow or wagon and deposited them at the curb in front of our house. That night my Dad would set fire to the leaves, but not before my mother wrapped potatoes, onions, carrots and seasonings in several layers of aluminum foil and deposited them among the leaves. We waited anxiously, helping Dad tend the leaves so they wouldn’t catch something on fire, but that never happened. This was the way we got rid of the leaves in the town where I lived. After a while of burning and tending, the leaves smoldered and went out. Then Dad would use a set of tongs to retrieve the foil-wrapped potatoes and we’d feast on them with cider and doughnuts for dessert. The next day, once the leaves were mostly ash, we’d help load them into bags and take them to the local dump. Dad always let us sit on the back of the truck while we rode and once he backed up to the dumping area we’d heave the bags into the pit.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Actually it’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) but since they are close and I’m back in the US, it’s Halloween. As a kid we really did it up right. We decorated the house with all sorts of pumpkins, bats, ghosts and witches. My mother was an artist, so she had some really fantastic ideas for decorating and costumes.
My siblings and I loved playing dress-up and Halloween was the most fun. Mom let us decide what or whom we wanted to be and then helped us create the costume. One of my very favorite costumes of all was an evening dress with over-the-elbow gloves, my hair done up in curls and a tiara. I felt like a movie star. Of course, I had to endure my hair done up in rags all night to get the curls and I may have stumbled once or twice over the hem, but I did win best costume in our school competition. I was about eleven at the time. The dress and gloves were from another era, when women wore evening gowns to go out to special events and my aunt gave it to us to play dress-up. It was lime green and I felt like Cinderella, very glamorous.
We generally had our cousins along to trick-or-treat with us and did we ever have fun! First, we had a light supper before my Mom and Aunt decorated a table with witches and pumpkins, cobwebs and ghosts. Mom usually designed a special cake that was something to behold. They served us cake; some red drink they said was blood, grapes for eyeballs and spaghetti for brains. At the time we were young enough to believe them and screamed in delight as we ate our “ghoulish” treats.
Then it was time to get dressed in our costumes and take off for a night of fun. Back in my day there was no fear of knocking on people’s doors, no fear of wandering around the town alone, no fear of being abducted or hurt. We were just six little kids having a blast. When we passed our friends we’d all compare our bags of treats to see who had the most. We often walked a couple of miles if we didn’t tire out too much. At some houses we were invited in for cider and doughnuts and pictures. At others a wicked witch or monster handed us our treat. We screamed in delight.
Back at the house Mom, Dad, my Uncle and Aunt dressed appropriately and handed out candy to every little trick-or-treater that came along. Since our house was on a corner a block from town we got hit hard. Dad once had to go get a bushel of apples from a friend because he ran out of treats and the store was closed to get more candy.
When we returned home with our booty Mom and Dad would ooh and ah over the treasures we’d received. We were allowed to keep our bags in the closet in each of our bedrooms as long as we solemnly promised not to eat too much at one time. Yeah, right! One time my little brother began throwing up orange pumpkins and after that the fun was over. My Mother kept the candy and doled it out.
I loved riding my bicycle in the fresh October air. By then gloves, a hat and warm coat were a necessity, but I roamed the streets of town enjoying the last delights of summer and began to eagerly anticipate winter fun. I’d ride my bike until I was so cold I had to go home or freeze. But the memories are worth it.
Later, when my own children had Halloween parties at school, I was the first to volunteer to help. I always dressed as something different (one year I was a grape, right down to the purple tights!). Carving pumpkins was something my kids loved and since we grew our own we had lots of fun decorating them. Those pumpkins, cornstalks, corn brooms and ghosts and witches decorated our house and it was hard to get the kids to let me take them down until Christmas came and I could lure them into visions of sugar plums.
I often took my children on long walks through the hardwoods in October. We had to wear orange clothing and talk loud, because it was the start of hunting season, and even though we walked on our own property, one never knows who might disregard the “keep out” signs. The children picked up leaves that we took home and ironed between sheets of waxed paper, just as I did as a child.
I have many other wonderful memories of October. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear them!
I did a lot of research on Halloween and I’m still not sure about it all. When I grew up, it was neither religious, nor non-religious. It was just a time when we got together as a family and had fun with our neighbors. From the beginning of October on we started planning our costumes. I remember the misty rain and the moisture that would build up under our masks. Mom usually painted our faces, but we wanted store-bought masks too. We Trick-or-Treated until we were so tired we fell asleep in the car on the way home. We’d still have candy left when Thanksgiving rolled around.
The accepted beginning of this festival is that it is influenced by All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. These days are respectively celebrated on 1st and 2nd of November. The first was celebrated to honor saints, and the latter to pray for those who have lately departed. Halloween falls just before these two days, on October 31. A tradition then, also involved ringing of bells. This was done for the souls in purgatory (a condition of temporary punishment in order to purify, to be made ‘ready’ for Heaven).
Folklore says, and it is largely believed by people, that the souls of those who have departed will wander the Earth from their time of death to the next All Saints’ Day. Till then, they can seek revenge or vengeance from those who cheated them. This means, their last chance to do so was on Halloween’s Day. On the next day, these souls would travel to the next world. It is said that the practice of wearing costumes (guising) was thus introduced to hide from these souls.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/how-did-halloween-start.html
Halloween started several thousand years ago with the Ancient Celts (a group of pre-Christian mystics who worshipped nature). They considered October 31st the end of the year and they threw a big party which was known as Samhain. It was a celebration of the autumn harvest and the Celtic New Year, when they believed spirits could come back and visit with living relatives. Celts put out food and drink for the dead and left their windows, doors, and gates unlocked to give the spirits free passage into their homes. Some people believed if you left “treats” on the front porch for the spirits and ghosts, this would make them happy and they would not hurt you. Later, as Christianity spread, November 1st became a religious holiday known as All Saints’ Day. The prayer that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas. The night before became known as All Hakkiwe’en, or Halloween.
Of course we need a story or a legend to go with Halloween:
The jack-o’-lantern story comes from an Irish myth about a fellow named “Stingy Jack.” One night in a pub, Jack tricked the devil into buying his drinks and also made him promise never to claim his soul! But it’s never clever to make a deal with the Devil. When Stingy Jack eventually died, Heaven didn’t want him, and he couldn’t go down into Hell, so the Devil doomed him to walk the night as a ghost, with a glowing coal in a turnip to light his way. Poor Stingy Jack became Jack of the Lantern, or “Jack O’Lantern.” Irish folks soon began carving out scary faces in turnips and potatoes on Halloween to scare away Jack and other evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought this story with them when they came to the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries, and discovered pumpkins make great jack-o’-lanterns.
I’m glad we now use pumpkins, I love pumpkin pie. Not sure what to do with the Turnip innards.
In my novel “Stamp Out Murder” James and Carolyn (the two main characters) are going on a “Ghost Walk”. The tour guide was new to the area and didn’t realize that it was Carolyn’s great-grandmother who was suppose to be the ghost, so when the beautiful lady with the blonde hair and the green dress darted across the room, Carolyn knew it wasn’t Lady Elizabeth McKeel.
***Were you raised to think this was a day for Saints or for Souls who had passed on?***
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I love fall, the colored leaves, the crisp air, and fresh apples. My husband and I married in November, on the same date that his parents and grandparents were married. Also, being a lover of all things spooky, I can’t wait for Halloween.
On Friday Willow and I purchased our pumpkins. She was exceptionally pleased with hers, large, round, great stem; it just begged to be carved. We also found suitable pumpkins for Mike and I and brought them home to wait until it was time to put knife to pulp.
As I organized all of the pumpkin carving necessities, I was visited by ghosts of pumpkin carvings past. I could see a succession of painted (when Willow was young) to carved pumpkins marching forward through the years. It was then that I realized we each have a distinct process in this activity. Mike uses stencils and spends hours make the design perfect, complaining all the while that it’s taking too much time. Willow comes to the challenge with great plans but sometimes the effect she wants is not something she is yet able to achieve. Me, I start with a general plan, do my best, adjust as needed, and usually create something I like even if it isn’t perfect.
Last night, as we carved pumpkins I found it interesting to see how we’ve continued our patterns and how we have also have grown beyond them. Mike used a stencil but a simple one and used it as a guide rather than a requirement. The result is a jack-o-lantern with a cute stem nose and a face that makes me smile. He is pleased with the results and enjoyed the processes more than he has in years past.
Willow decided to try a stencil again, although last year’s efforts were not what she had hoped. The design she picked this time was simple, yet offered a challenge, and the cat motif spoke to her heart. Her pumpkin is adorable and she loves it. She doubted herself but achieved what she wanted, and more important, she focused on the success of the whole rather than picking apart sections she thinks she could have carved better.
For myself, I tend to design on a theme, scary, funny, etc. and find examples I like then go my own way. I don’t use stencils as following lines is not my forte. My kindergarten teacher wanted to hold me back because I colored like “a little boy.” If that was the criteria, I’d still be in kindergarten. Anyway, I also tried something new this year. I used the plastic awl that comes with the pumpkin carving kit to mark points of my design on the surface of the pumpkin. The result was that the face was balanced and the smile was centered. Even the little curl turned out well, at least on one side. I am pleased.
The magic of fall and Halloween guarantees that all jack-o-lanterns will be wonderful, especially when lit, and so it was again. This time, though each of us tried something new, went out of our comfort zones and had a great time. The results were fantastic. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply our pumpkin carving experiences to other parts of our lives?
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