glowPumpkinsince it’s almost halloween, i think it’s time to tell one of my favorite tales – it’s about this guy named stingy jack…

stingy jack was really mean and kind of weird and he played tricks on everybody – even the devil! one halloween night, jack was drinking too much cider at the local apple orchard and ran out of money. he called out to the devil and said “i’ll sell my soul for another glass of cider!”  and the devil appeared! he had a drink with jack and when it was time to pay for the cider, jack being the stingy guy he was, convinced the devil to turn himself into some money to pay for the drinks. jack grabbed the coin and stuffed the devil in his pocket! and the devil couldn’t change himself back because the pocket was too small and i guess there was a silver cross in there, too! so the devil begged and whined and pleaded and jack finally took him out so he could change back as long as the devil didn’t come back for jack’s soul for ten years! the devil agreed and jack let him go. (i bet it was pretty stinky in that pocket, too, which is why the devil was whining so much. i kinda think that stingy jack wasn’t especially all that concerned with bathing since he was pretty mean…)

anyway… ten years later the devil shows up at jack’s house wanting his very soul. jack had thought about a lot of tricks he did in the past ten years (i guess he wanted to keep practicing) and asked the devil before he goes, to go pick an apple for him off of the apple tree. the devil agreed (after all – you know the story about the devil and the apple trees!) and as soon as he gets into the tree, jack put a lot of crosses around the tree so the devil couldn’t climb down at all! and i bet that the apples weren’t all that good to eat either so the devil started crying. jack made a new deal and told the devil he would let him go if he promised never to take him to the bad place. (you know the one I mean!) so the devil agreed and jack let him go free.

jack continued on through his life, playing tricks and being mean and stingy and stinky and forgot all about the devil. but one day he died and when he went up to heaven they told him he can’t stay there, he was too mean! (boy, that’s a big surprise – i mean, he played tricks on the devil and no one went to his funeral either!!) they told him to try the bad place, but when he went there, the devil remembered him and threw him out!!

“but where will i go?” whined jack (he was even whiny-er than the devil.)

“back where you came!” laughed the devil and he threw an old coal at him from the bad place.

so jack put the coal in an old turnip for a lantern and was banished to walk the earth forever!!! and no one would talk to him ‘cuz he had played tricks on everyone he knew and they didn’t like him….

i guess this story is from ireland – that’s why they’re called jack o’lanterns (jack of the lantern) – except we use pumpkins – after all, have you ever tried to carve a turnip? it’s really hard! my little brother, hamilton, tried it once – it didn’t work very well and he just end up needing a band-aid. so, word to the wise – carve pumpkins, not turnips, leave the devil to his own devices, and be nice!

and watch out for tricksters named jack – especially ones carrying jack 0’lantern turnips!