“It’s destroyed! It’s DESTROOOYED!” wailed the 7yr-old as he sprinted past me and down the hallway to his room, slamming the door when he got there.
“Highly doubtful,” I thought to myself, assuming he was talking about his special pumpkin. It was, after all, a second chance pumpkin. As it turned out, he was actually upset about a tray of art supplies that had accidentally spilled from the dining room buffet and onto the floor. But still, the pumpkin has a story worth telling. Allow me to explain.
In October of this past year we did what all proper, loving, tradition-bound American parents do— we took our kids to the ‘local’ pumpkin patch. There, we spent money we didn’t really have on silly little train rides to nowhere, petting zoos populated by exotic creatures like goats, geese and chickens, corn mazes we actually got lost in and pumpkins bred to be obscenely heavy. I know this last bit to be fact because I picked ridiculously small pumpkins for the miserly sake of my wallet and still ended up broke; it’s a scam I tell you. But, I’ve got to admit, it’s a family-friendly scam; the kids love it every year.
So we came home with our pumpkins and fully intended on carving them into moderately haunted faces for Halloween night. That was the intent. What really happened was that, for the first time since the kids were born, we got too busy to carve those excessively heavy pumpkins.
The night for scaring came and went and a week later, just when my wife and I thought we’d managed to get off the hook for the forgotten pumpkins, the 7yr-old remembered. Much crying ensued. Misery ran rampant. The kids weren’t happy either. Finally, I managed to convince the oldest boy that we could just make them into “Thanksgiving pumpkins” by carving designs of acorns, pilgrim hats and turkeys tails into the bright orange skins. This idea seemed to mollify his indignation and he agreed to the plan. Only… we got too busy and forgot. Again.
The faithful pumpkin sentinels continued to stand watch unmolested at our front door until mid-December, when my wife’s guilt got the best of her and she went online in search of ways not to waste forgotten pumpkins. The solution she stumbled on was truly brilliant. Apparently there are other parents as dysfunctional as us who’d realized that, by stacking three pumpkins on top of each other and painting them white, they had the makings of a near perfect pumpkin snowman. We pitched the idea with cautious optimism. The 7yr-old looked back at us thoughtfully for a moment before inexplicably shaking his head, ‘no.’ He suggested instead we paint the remaining firm pumpkins green, stack them on top of each other as planned and thereby create a sort of lumpy pumpkin Christmas ‘tree.’ The ornaments and ribbon could be painted on later, he explained. We weren’t in a position to argue.
That very day the veteran pumpkins became a rich, forest green. It was an unnervingly crisp looking green, and we all studied the unnatural hue over meals for the next two weeks as they sat on the newspaper-topped dinner table where they’d been painted, but never stacked or ‘decorated.’ Yesterday, over cereal, the 7yr-old addressed the elephant in the room.
“We forgot the pumpkins again.”
“Yes,” I said.
“What should we do?”
‘Throw them away,’ I said in my head, ‘Hide them. Burn them. Shoot them. Smash them.’
“I really have no clue,” I said out loud.
Quiet thinking for a moment, then—
“I’ve got an idea,” he said.
Behold, the amazing New Year’s pumpkin, complete with glitter-enhanced firework motifs to welcome in another journey around the sun. Admit it— you know you want one. Or, at the least, admit you want as many second chances as those crazy pumpkins got. I know I do.
May your new year be as full of grace-filled second chances as it is with holidays. May you find that God has as many ways to heal and restore as there are ways to recycle an ugly old pumpkin for seasonal decor. After all, Valentines Day is coming. And Easter…
Just think of the possibilities.
Surrounded By Grace,