Friday, September 10

The Infamous Pumpkin Pie Story

This post has no writerly dilemmas, no pearls of wisdom, no lectures on the use of the hyphen in modern day language. What it is, however, is a story.

I was sixteen years old, madly in love with my boyfriend Steve. My world revolved around him. I called him incessantly, he called me incessantly. We spoke over CB radio. (I’m dating myself here big time) I was in Loooooooove.

With a capital “L”.

After a time, we decided to meet each other’s families. For Thanksgiving that year, we went to his aunt’s house. Two maiden aunts living together, with their brother. Truly, the nicest people imaginable. Sweet. They made me feel to home, and were perfectly adorable.

Then they offered up the prayer. I knew the words so joined right in. See, I was fitting in just fine. Then they decided to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Um. I don’t sing. Ever. (ok, Christmas carols when I’m alone in the car, but that’s it.) I stared around in shock, but gamely mouthed the words. Awkward. But hey, I was fitting in.

Dinner came, turkey with all of the fixings. Even pickled beets. And sweet potatoes. And whole milk. Everything a sixteen-year-old girl (ok, just ME then) doesn’t eat. I had turkey and mash and gravy though and was happy enough. I even let go of Steve’s hand long enough to eat.

Dessert time! Yeah! The aunts brought out beautiful pumpkin pies. I did love pumpkin pie. I’d love a piece, I enthused. Please! This was going to be the highlight of the day.


The aunts apologized, as they had made the pies a little later than usual, and then they put them in the freezer for a bit to set up, but they might still be a little warm.

No problem. Ice cream and pumpkin pie. Life is good.

I dug in. I had the first forkful in and was heading for the second when I bit down. The outer layer of pumpkin pie was frozen. Crispy even. The next layer was cold, pumpkin pie’ish. The middle layer was warm and oozing.

Heroically, I kept my mouth shut and chewed. I closed my eyes and concentrated on getting it down. My stomach heaved and went through all sorts of contortions to try to avoid the coming pumpkin pie.

I swallowed. I prayed. I gritted my teeth.

I looked around to see if anyone else was having difficulties. No, no sirree. All were tucking right in.

There was no way I could take a second bite.

“Is everything all right, dear?” Auntie Emma, the sweetest lady in the entire world asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Would you like some more?”

“Oh, no. I’m …good.”

And I ate it. Rather than disappoint a nice old lady and her sister, rather than slip it under the table and hope the poodle would have at it, I managed to get the entire piece down. And thanked them for the beautiful meal.

That, in my mind, made me more a part of the family than anything else I could have done.

Auntie Emma turns 100 this past week. Even though I’m no longer a part of that family, I still remember how nice she was to a young girl, and I will always remember that pumpkin pie. And I’ll never eat another piece as long as I live.

Happy Birthday Auntie Emma.


  1. You are missing out on one of America's greatest heritage treasures. Start small, with a pumpink pie scone from Starbucks. By Thanksgiving, I want you to move up to eating a piece. I could even send you a recipe for pumpkin streusel pie. Too delicious to give up over one weird piece at 16!

  2. Kudos to you for choking down semi-freddi pumpkin pie. ;) I remember a Christmas dinner at a friend's house. Her mom couldn't cook. The Cool Whip Jello pie was a floating mass of red and green Cool Whip islands floating in an uncooked previously frozen pie shell. Delish!

  3. christi....can't do it...the gag reflex is too sister tried to hit me up with a pumpkin cheesecake a few years ago....bbblllrrbbbb =)

  4. jen...oh dear....that would put me off jello for a long long time to come i think!

  5. Carrie,
    Your post made me tear up. Today is 9/11, so that's part of it. But the point I got from your story is that we do a lot of things for the people we love, and isn't that the beauty of it?

  6. that's the beauty of it d'ann....=)