When I first arrived here at Luther, one of the many programs we had during orientation week was a Friendship Family picnic session for all the first-year international students at First Lutheran Church -- a church nearby college. Normally, families or individuals from the Decorah community would partake in this program. It is a great way for both the international students and the local families to experience an exchange of cultural differences enjoyably. It also allows the students to appreciate and experience living the everyday life an American family would in the U.S. Some of us got a family individually, while some shared a family. The picnic was basically a potluck dinner for all of us to get to know our families better and hopefully make plans in the future to spend more time together for the four years we will be spending in Luther.
That evening I got to meet a welcoming family of three, Marin, Brian, and their five-year-old son, Per. Since then, we’ve been making plans to have gatherings at the Whippy Dip etc. Recently, I got a chance to spend my first Halloween with them. We were going to have a pumpkin-carving session in the late afternoon for the weekend.
When Marin and I arrived at their place, I was greeted enthusiastically by Per who wanted to surprise me with his new costume for Halloween -- a puss-in-boots getup! He was energetic as usual, especially then when he just got a couple of foam swords that go along with his costume. So I decided to challenge him to a ‘sword fight’ as he seemed excited when he was telling me about several combat tactics he learned from Brian in sword-fighting.
After that, we took a break and had some hot, homemade apple cider Marin made for us and prepared to make some jack-o’-lanterns. We started off by cutting the stem of the pumpkins to remove the seeds and the stringy pumpkin pulp from inside, and Brian collected the seeds in a bowl to roast them later. Then, we drew outlines of funny faces (Per drew a cyclops feature!) on the pumpkins and began carving them. Removing the cut-out pieces was the hard part, but Per took care of that for us. Once we were done, we used chopsticks to place a candle in each of the pumpkins although it was too early to see the jack-o’-lantern glow. Brian was already finished roasting pumpkin seeds then, and we had them for snacks while Per and I played on his Wii for awhile. The roasted pumpkin seeds (which I’ve never had nor heard of before) were absolutely delicious especially with Indian sambar, and they were really, a healthier alternative for popcorn.
I was actually eager to see the jack-o’-lanterns glow in the evening, which I didn’t get a chance to. I was also pretty bummed that I couldn't dress up and participate in the trick-or-treating session this year for the children of Decorah our dorms organized because I had a whole pile of assignments to complete before the weekend was over. Nonetheless, the afternoon with my Friendship Family was a special occasion for me as I got to carve my first jack-o’-lantern and spend some quality time with good company.