pumpkin patch

The Great Pumpkin

In The Blog by Dr James Wellborn

Remember how much fun it was to get pumpkins and make jack-o-lanterns with your kids when they were young? Well, it can still be an enjoyable family activity with your teenager if you do a little planning and have a little consideration for your teen’s sensibilities and schedule. Here’s how.

Find a local pumpkin patch. Purchasing a pumpkin at your local grocery store is perfectly acceptable as a way of acquiring a carving pumpkin. However, it is more fun to pick one from an actual pumpkin patch. Do some research to find a pick-your-own pumpkin grower located in your area. This turns it into a family trip where you get to spend time together that doesn’t involve staring at a video screen. If there isn’t a pumpkin patch within easy driving, a place that has a large number of pumpkins is a good substitute. It still provides an opportunity for everyone to make an individual pumpkin selection.

Make it mandatory. Don’t be put off by your teenager’s complaining. There are some things you do as a family and one of those is getting pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns, by God! Seriously, they may give you some push back at first but it can very easily turn out to be a fun adventure. Consider allowing them to bring along a friend who they can quietly gripe to about how lame this whole thing is.

Respect their time. Even though you are making this a mandatory family activity, it is still important to take your teenager’s schedule into account. Be sure to talk to them about when would be the most convenient time to take a run to the local pumpkin patch.

Make it an event. If you are going to take some time to travel to the pumpkin patch, you might as well include stopping for something to eat on your way there or back because who doesn’t like to eat? See if there is an eating establishment with some local color that is located on the route to the pumpkin patch.

Schedule a family time to carve the pumpkins. Once you have purchased the pumpkins, plan a time to carve them into jack-o-lanterns. This will take about an hour. Schedule it like you would any other family event. And, by the way, everyone is going to make a jack-o-lantern. That means mom, dad and kids. AND, set a good example! No whining, griping or avoiding.

Find some sarcastic or borderline inappropriate carving design templates. Carving jack-o-lanterns has become an art form in the last several years. Take advantage of this by either downloading some templates off the internet of unusual carving designs or encouraging your teenager to find some way out design. There are a surprising array of tools (that are not necessary) and lighting options (that may be worth checking out) available for creating jack-o-lanterns. The old fashioned tea candle still works. (And, there is something satisfying about a real flame in the jack-o-lantern, too.)

It’s the activity not the outcome. The most important thing to keep in mind is it’s the journey that matters! The point of doing all this is not to have an awesome and elegant fall seasonal display. It is to have something fun to do that brings the family together while also providing a way of highlighting each individual member. All this can be had from just getting some vegetables, scooping out the guts, hacking out big chunks of the flesh and lighting it on fire. What could be more fun?

Happy Halloween!