Saturday, October 6, 2007


When I was in the first grade our teacher brought a giant pumpkin to class. We each had a turn grabbing fistfuls of seeds from inside the pumpkin to help clean it out. I was not squeamish about the slimy pumpkin innards, though others were. Later, she had us vote on what shapes she should carve for the nose, eyes and mouth. While she carved, the rest of us drew pumpkins on paper.

At the end of the day, she put all of our names in a bowl. The pumpkin was going to go home with one of us. I had experienced this kind of thing before. The knowledge that even though you have just as much of a shot as anybody, your name will not be drawn. Hope and pray that it will. Squeeze your eyes shut as she reaches in the bowl. But somewhere in you, you have to prepare yourself that it will not be you. You will not be bringing the pumpkin home.

She drew a name.
It was mine.

I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that I jumped out of my chair, knocking it over and slapped my hand over my mouth to keep myself from screaming. I could not believe my luck. Of all of those kids, I got to take home the pumpkin. The pure joy I felt was only just a little tinged by the embarrassment I felt at knocking my chair over. It's funny how closely I hold those two emotions together in my memory. Overwhelming joy, but not without a bit of embarrassment.

I am still glad that I won that pumpkin. That memory still has a joyful effect on me.

And I'm sure the others have forgotten their loss.

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