Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hiding Christmas

I raised four sons and as soon as the oldest one realized that Christmas presents were already in the house prior to Christmas, the game was on. With four boys ranging in age from 10 to 1, my wife and I decided we needed a better hiding place than the closet of the home office or spare bedroom.

By the time the youngest was ready to start the holiday search, the eldest was a teenager with a vivid imagination of where mom and dad would stuff a present... attic, basement, garage, the dark recesses of seldom used areas. It was a test of wits and I wanted to win.

We used suitcases, parent's underwear drawer, file boxes with fake names like "Dad's military" or "Grandma's Doilies" to keep the boys from rummaging through them. I even used my bowling bag as a hiding spot... uh, this one so my wife wouldn't find her present! I guess a golf bag could work, too, if you golfed. LOL.

Of course, as the younger boys getting older, so did the older boys. Move ahead six years. The four boys are now 16, 15, 9, and 7.

I'd like to say the older boys had matured and we only had to hide things from the younger two. Unfortunately, it is Christmas and even the oldest child can quickly revert to their youth. Our eldest was the sneaky kind. We discovered he had mastered the art of repackaging. That's right. He would open the present carefully, see what it was, then reseal it so none (mainly mom and dad) had no idea he had tampered with the gift. We thought he'd outgrown that trick but his wife caught him red-handed one year, so... As I said earlier, no matter the age, one reverts to their childhood all too quickly.

But, I digress, hiding became much more sophisticated with each year since we were now dealing with older children who walked the edge of adulthood. In other words, they finally had a brain. LOL.

Here are a few places that many people overlook as a hiding place.

1. Depending on weight and whether you have a suspended ceiling. A-ha! You put that together. Presents like shirts, skirts, slacks, pajamas or very light-weight toys can be strategically placed on cross-bars here and there above your heads. Children (and many adults) don't usually think a place above their head in clear view as a hiding spot.

2. If you still have a water bed, sometimes the manufacturer will place a small drawer at the foot, several, to save money, just placed a plain or decorative board across the foot of the bed. Yes, you have drawers on the sides, but many water beds have a small empty well that can be used to hide several items, large and small. Again, a child seldom thinks of this space... did you?

3. Continuing on bedroom furniture. Does your dresser have legs? No? I'm willing to bet that it then has a false bottom. With a little straining, you should be able to slide it out from the wall on one side and discover an opening to which you can slide in a present. We hid a couple of huge train sets under the wife's dresser.

4. And don't forget dad's big valet drawer and/or closet. Yes, sir, that hefty stack of drawers probably has a false bottom, too.  Again, another hiding place.

5. Of course, this also holds true for any large furniture pieces in the house - think dining hutch, a desk, end table, display case, grandfather clock, etc.

Caveat: If you're using the ideas of 3 - 5, remember, brush out the slide marks on the carpet in front!

6. Our first year in the Washington, DC area, we rented a townhouse and in the one bedroom, it had two huge double-slide doors. You know, the type with the vents down the front. If the gift is small (thin) enough, using a small, almost invisible hook to hold the item, place it high up on the back side so when the door is opened, it hides the item between the two sections. You might be able to place a thicker item if you know your children (or spouse) isn't going to push the doors ALL the way open.

7.  In our home, the hot water heater is enclosed in its own private little closet. When nobody was around, I installed a small shelf. Yes, I had my own personal hidey-hole that nobody knew about. I mean, WHO looks in the hot-water heater closet? It was a safe spot until my wife decided it would be the perfect spot to store her extension rod for her "spider killer." After that, it was still a safe child-proof hiding place.

8. This hiding place is extremely dependent on size. After the tree has been decorated and it is several days down the road, a small, discreetly wrapped in dark green package can be placed deep within the boughs of the tree, live or artificial. My wife's set of diamond earrings set in the tree from December 1st until Christmas. It was a lot of fun making her "hunt" for that gift in the tree.

Now I've not included many of the more obvious ones - basement, tool bench, attic, garage, car trunk and such. Of course, the space above the car in the garage is often overlooked. Still, a lot of the aforementioned places can be ransacked by those in search of their Christmas presents. In fact, I was thinking of using the attic in one of our houses when I discovered it was already in use by my youngest son as a "clubhouse" for him and his friends. The access was in his bedroom and thereby he considered that just an extension of his space. Yeah, attics are gamey, at best.

Now, we've used item #3, #4, and #5 for hiding things Christmas presents repeatedly. One year we told the boys they had been bad and well, we just weren't going to buy them any toys. The boys called our bluff on Christmas presents. They had searched everywhere except the sacred territory of our bedroom and was sure it was all hidden in our room. We allowed them to search the room, smug, knowing they wouldn't find anything. We had finished our shopping. And, as expected, they didn't find anything. Talk about four boys being good for the remaining time until Christmas - all of them hoping Santa would get them something, anything. I know, we're mean.

The funny thing about hiding place #6 - the bedroom was the one for the two youngest boys who were 10 and 12 at that time. They never discovered the presents hiding there. Of course, they weren't quite as serious about finding the presents as their older brothers.

Hopefully, you have found a new hiding place. If you have a good hiding place, share it with me. I'm always on the outlook for a new place.

Until next I ramble on...