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The Christmas Pumpkin
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Tara Fox Hall
On a windy day in late November, Bob the pumpkin sadly watched his rotting Jack-o'-lantern friends being carried to the compost pile.
'I was sad that I was the only one that never got a face,' he thought to himself, 'but I'm glad now.'
He braced himself as a small boy went to pick him up.
"You can leave that one," the boy's father called. "It looks okay for now. Your mom might want to make a Thanksgiving pie."
Bob trembled as they went inside their house, thinking of being cut into pieces.
But what other option remained?
Halloween was long over. The weather was turning colder, and soon a freeze would come, and with it, the rotting that would spell his doom just as surely as a sharp knife.
'I have to get away someplace where it's warm, where I won't freeze. But how?'
"Put the boxes by the stairs," the boy's mother called as the boy and his father began carrying out old Christmas decorations. "I'll put them in the car tonight, and drop them off by the Goodwill next week."
Bob waited for his chance, when no one was looking he leaned to the side and fell over.
Rolling fast he hid among the boxes, sliding a wreath over his orange skin.
Bob breathed a sigh of relief as he was lifted into the car. 'Safe for now.'
Days later, Bob was motionless again as the box he was in was moved.
When all was quiet, he raised the box lid and looked out.
He was buried in a large pile of stuff!
Carefully he fell over once more, then tried to roll out of the box.
He made it, but couldn't get far, hemmed in on all sides.
Then a shadow fell on him suddenly.
"What's this? A pumpkin?"
Bob tried to duck down but a tall woman in a red shirt was already reaching for him. She lifted him up, turning him from side to side.
"Too bad," she said, then carried him outside the pile and sat him on a wood pallet with several boxes of rusty metal cars.
"I love to make pumpkin pie."
Bob waited until she had gone, then looked down at himself. 'Oh no!'
There was a small black spot on his front! It was the dreaded rot!
Dejected, he huddled by the boxes, and cried pumpkin seed tears.
Many days passed, as the weather got colder and colder.
More and more boxes were added to the pallet, until Bob could no longer see over them.
Finally, the day before Christmas, a big truck parked in front and began to load the boxes.
As before, he fell over on his side.
'Careful,' thought to himself as he rolled into the nearest box, 'Parts of you are squishy now.'
After the drive was done and the boxes had been unloaded again, Bob carefully peered out in the falling dusk.
There was junk everywhere around him, as far a he could see. 'I wonder what this place is?'
"Welcome to the dump," a crow called, landing near him and eyeing him eagerly.
"You've still got your seeds, I aim to have them." It inched closer.
A small rusty black metal car fell out of the box.
A front panel on it began to flash brightly in reddish tones.
"Stay away," the car warned the crow in an electronic voice.
"I'll be back," the startled crow screeched taking wing, "and I'll have your seeds!"
'Thanks,' Bob thought to the car.
"You're welcome," the car replied.
"I'm KitKar, or so my boy named me. He liked candy. We had lots of great years together."
'It would have been nice to have a boy of my own,' thought Bob sadly. 'Where is yours, KitKar?'
"He got too old to play with me," KitKar said sorrowfully, "I got put in the attic. Then one day, people came and moved everything out. I don't know what happened."
'At least you're not rotting,' Bob thought kindly.
"I'm rusting," KitKar replied. "I'm just as doomed. It's starting to snow."
Suddenly headlights appeared, coming closer.
A red truck stopped near the pallet with Bob and KitKar, and out popped an old man with a long white beard.
He was dressed in a red flannel shirt, jeans, and red boots.
"There you are," he said, coming closer to KitKar. "Someone's been asking for you back for a long time."
The old man picked up the car, dusted off the snow, then looked at Bob.
"And what do we have here? A Christmas pumpkin?"
Bob stared. 'This is Santa?'
"Yes," the old man replied, "I had a few last minute requests to get before tonight's sleigh run."
'How can you hear me?' Bob thought in wonder.
"You have a courageous heart Bob," Santa said, "I can hear it miles away, which is how I was able to find KitKar."
"I can't leave him here," KitKar said staunchly, "he'll die. That crow wants his seeds!"
'You should go KitKar,' Bob thought, 'your boy wants you back. I'm rotting anyway; soon I'll be a zombie pumpkin.'
"You can come too Bob," Santa said kindly, "but you'll need to leave your seeds here. Can you do that?"
'If I lose my seeds, I'll die,' Bob thought, 'that crow will eat them!'
"He'll eat some, sure," Santa replied, "but most will go into the ground, and make new pumpkins next year. You don't need your seeds where we're headed. I need to give you a face, Bob, and a place inside for a magical candle, to help light my way tonight in the storm."
'It's too late,' Bob replied sadly, 'I'm rotting, Santa.'
"It's never too late," Santa reassured, "as long as you have hope and can be brave."
Bob drew himself up straight. 'Then I'm ready, but what about Rudolph?'
"He called in sick," Santa said, rolling his eyes, "can you believe it? Tonight of all nights! But you're going to do fine, Bob."
He carefully lifted Bob up, then set the pumpkin on his lap.
Taking out his pocketknife he carefully cut away the rot, then hollowed out Bob, scattering his seeds onto the snow. Making a large smile, eyes and a nose, he set the pumpkin down in his front seat.
"I can finally talk!" Bob said excitedly.
"You look great, too," KitKar said happily, flashing his red front panel. "No more rot!"
"Keep that excitement high Bob," Santa laughed, shifting his truck into drive, "we have a lot to do tonight."
Quick as a blink, Santa and his new friends had arrived back at the North Pole.
The elves were already busy, harnessing up the stamping and snorting reindeer to a sled piled high with gifts.
Santa attached a gift card to KitKar. "You're one of our first stops."
He turned to Bob.
Lifting the Jack o' lantern to the front of the sled he stuck a glowing ball inside.
Bob gave a wide grin, the glow inside him getting brighter and brighter.
Santa climbed onto the sled's driver seat and took the reins.
The reindeer began to move forward, galloping and rising into the air as Santa's laughter rang through the crisp night air.
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