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The Battle for Halloween

Photograph by Getty Images/OJO Images RF

He gets the 4th of July, I get Halloween. He gets to light things on fire and cross his fingers that the dogs don't chew a hole through the wall, and I get to make a Dr. Horrible costume and explore haunted houses on North Portsmouth Street with the thousands of people who all of a sudden seem to live in our neighborhood. He gets to spend too much money on garbage that makes noise, and I get to spend $10 on candy that will somehow stay in my house until all of eternity goes by and a new world begins and then my $10 candy is an ancient, preserved, sticky relic (that the kids will still want to eat).

But this year he asked if he could have them for Halloween.

I, of course, don't want to be without the kids on my second favorite holiday. They make it more interesting. I dig in to the folklore of the jack-o-lantern, and they give me interesting eye-rolls. I romanticize El Día De Los Muertos, and they romanticize the sweet breads. "Grown up" Halloween, with its turn-everything-hootchie parade, just doesn't hold the same appeal. My boobs are happier near my ribs than my chin, thankyouverymuch. And if the glue that holds on the millions of fake eyelashes that come out at the witchingest of witching hours isn't actually a slow but pervasive virus that causes duck-faced selfies in dimly lit dive bars, well then I guess it's back to the drawing cauldron, because that shit is doing something.

I really wanted to say no to him. I wanted to spend another spooky, sugar-crazed, hot-glued, magic-pony-rainbow-kitten costume holiday with my little monsters ... before they outgrow it all and start trick or treating as "freshly dead freshmen." (If they pull that crap, I swear to all that is unholy I'll tell all the neighbors not to give them candy. Wear a damn costume, heathen children.)

But when their dad and I split up and we were sorting out the custody agreement, we included a caveat. It wasn't written in stone. We didn't spit in our palms and shake on it. But it felt right. Way more right than spitty hands. We each had our set holidays with the kids, and some we would share, but if a holiday came around and one family made plans that would make incredible memories for the kids, then that would need to be considered, and should be permitted to disrupt the agreement.

I really wanted to say no to him.

And well, his Halloween plan was a good one. There would be travel. Adventure! There would be meeting new sorta-step cousins. More family! Our family has gone through some massive metamorphoses over the last four years, and we have changed into something intricate, complex, interesting, and beautifully functional. A chance to meet an extension of that family would be more valuable than the promise of Pixie Stix at the end of a neighborhood hike.

So I hmm'ed and haw'ed, because these are words I've been told to use when discussing deep thought. I consulted Cransky, who was as bummed as I was at the possible lack of spirited children on the most spirited of nights. But I couldn't shake that caveat. And I knew I shouldn't shake that caveat. And the more I thought about it, I knew I didn't even want to.

I sent their dad a text and said, "Okay. You can have them on Halloween. But we get to take them to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie AND the next Star Wars. Also, you should give me a case of beer, because that's what friends do."

He replied, "Deal. And thank you."

I won't have my kids on Halloween. But I can still sew hotglue staple buy them costumes. Those costumes will make it into the third costume bin that is routinely mingled on the basement floor with the contents of the first and second costume bins. They'll show up on my kids, the neighbor kids, friends, on the dog, and on the family's baby mannequin mascot, Napkin. And in this, everyone wins.

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