Pumpkin Stress Reliever   Leave a comment

I love Halloween. I definitely takes the cake (candy) as the most fun holiday. It is also a rare holiday in that the consumerism aspect (getting and consuming mass quantities of sugar), is equalled and maybe surpassed by the human aspect. Halloween involves creativity, time connecting (even briefly) with strangers, time spent with friends and/or family while trick-or-treating or partying, and lots of conversations about costumes.

Another thing that I look forward to every year is the unique stress-relieving qualities of the jack-o-lantern. It starts with letting the creative part of the brain go free to come up with a design. Then there’s the tactile experience of hollowing out the pumpkin, which involves slight physical exertion and plenty of textures and sensations. Same with the carving. I find that hollowing out and carving a pumpkin is one of the few activities where I am automatically fully present and where I experience with all of my senses. The laughter, the feel of the pumpkin beneath my fingers, the smell of the pumpkin, and the taste of the crunchy pumpkin flesh combine to make me feel happy and relaxed.

Once the carving is finished, there is still another stress relieving activity: cleaning and toasting the pumpkin seeds. I know some people hate the sensation of pumpkins seeds slipping along their skin in a bowl of water, but I find the sensation to be like a light hand massage. It feels so good, and I look forward to it all year. And then there’s the wonderful smell of the toasted seeds coming out of the oven and the taste of warm, salted seeds to cap it all off.

This year I reclaimed the jack-o-lantern process. Our old neighborhood was one of those places where a pumpkin left outside overnight will not last the night intact. Combined with the fact that I am allergic to squash (including pumpkin), and my enthusiasm was dampened and I gave up on carving a jack-o-lantern. In our inaugural Halloween in our new house, though, I couldn’t abstain. So I carved my pumpkin while wearing nitrile gloves to keep my hands from breaking out in a rash. I only had one tiny nibble of pumpkin flesh. I did the first part of the pulp/seed separation in gloves. But the gloves came off so that I could feel the seeds on my skin as I swished them around in a bowl. The smell of toasted pumpkin seeds nearly drove me nuts, but I controlled myself enough to avoid tasting in the hopes that in a few years my allergy will be gone. And I am at peace knowing that this year our pumpkins will be composted, not trashed.

Posted October 31, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, psychology

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