David Trinko: The quest for the perfect holiday hideout

First Posted: 11/30/2013

Thursday was a day to give thanks for everything we have in life, truly feeling gratitude.

Until 5 p.m. Then the focus completely turned to what we don’t have and what we wanted. My wife took care of that part, heading out into the crowds to find bargains.

I won’t say I approve of Black Friday, much less how it crept into Thanksgiving. I won’t say I disapprove either. I’ve been married long enough to think of this shopping spree in the same way I think about changing the roll of toilet paper: I won’t criticize how it happens, as long as it gets done.

The arrival of the children’s Christmas presents creates a new challenge. In a home where we value being open and telling the truth, we’re forced to be deceptive.

We’re not lucky enough to have a Christmas gifts storage room we can keep under lock and key. Instead, we’re forced to hide these goodies.

Our youngest daughter walked into our bedroom closet on Friday afternoon, apparently smelling fear or whatever it was she asked from Santa Claus. She saw an oddly shaped pile of presents in the back of that narrow room, not-so-cleverly disguised with a comforter thrown on top of it.

As she started to question us about what’s under that boxy silhouette, I couldn’t help feeling like a Middle Eastern tyrant trying to lie to the United Nations’ weapons inspectors about my nuclear stash.

“That’s not what you think it is,” I told her.

Unless she thought it was a pile of presents. In that case, she nailed it.

We’ve learned to hide things in a variety of places. Closets never seemed that clever to me, as that’s where my parents hid gifts from us. I don’t know if that gift-seeking instinct is genetic, but I don’t want to chance it.

Things were easier before our oldest daughter started shooting up like Jack’s mythical beanstalk. Anything placed more than 5 feet above the ground once seemed safe from prying eyes.

Now things must be at least seven feet off the ground, requiring me to stand on my tippy-toes. I felt pretty silly the first time I caught my 12-year-old standing on a chair to find something atop a cupboard. She may not be as tall as I am, but obviously she’s smarter.

We’ve started to hide things in places the girls can easily go but never choose to do so. I call it “hiding in plain sight.” I know they’ll never visit the basement near the furnace, the back corner of the garage or the laundry room unless we beg them to do so.

That’s when the perfect hiding spot came to mind: Under their beds. If years of helping them clean their rooms showed me anything, it’s that they’ll never look under there.