The perfect hiding place

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Dear Reader, I have a problem. Depending on whom you ask — like my brothers — some folks will say I have a multitude of them. But those problems aren’t the one I’m writing about. If you’re reading this and you have children, then you might have this problem too: Where do you hide all those Christmas presents before Christmas?

With Christmas just a few weeks away, where to hide presents is a real problem in most households in our fair town. I say most households because at our house, yours truly has finally found the perfect hiding place.

Finding the perfect place was not by accident. It took many years and a lot of hard work. For those seven years growing up on Flamingo Street, my brothers and I had lots of practice finding my parents’ best hiding places.

Up the chimney: Stuffing anything, especially your twin brother, up the chimney is a really bad idea. First, if you forget to retrieve even just one present, the annual after dinner Christmas fire will be much larger than expected.

Second, whether wrapped or unwrapped, presents will all be the same color – the color of black soot.

Lastly, feet first or headfirst, Twin Brother Mark really didn’t want to play Santa and go up the chimney. Still, whether he found presents or not, Big Brother James, Older Brother Richard, and I sure did enjoy trying to stuff him up the chimney. It took him a week of bathing to get all that soot off.

Mom and Dad’s closet: This the worst place for parents to try and hide presents because it’s the most obvious. Sure they’ll be hidden on the floor or way back on the top shelf, but every kid knows to check the closet first. At least back on Flamingo we did.

We all talked about our parent’s hiding places and the number one place was the closet. Besides, it’s really hard to hide a new bike in there even when covered. And no, covering up presents in the bottom of a closet with a blanket doesn’t hide them. It just keeps them warm.

Attic or basement: While living on Flamingo, we never searched the basement for presents. We didn’t search the basement ‘cause we didn’t have a basement, but we did have an attic. That was the year Older Brother Richard got rushed to the hospital with a broken leg, but the accident wasn’t his fault. It was Dad’s fault.

Richard broke his leg reaching for the hoard of presents we found in the attic. When he stepped, he missed the flooring, plunged through the ceiling and landed on the floor below with a thud and splat. Gazing down through the massive hole, we all thought he was dead. He wasn’t moving and red liquid was seeping out from under him making a large puddle on the hardwood floor. Luckily, Richard wasn’t dead and the blood wasn’t blood. The red stuff was a present for The Sister – strawberry bubble bath.

And just why was it Dad’s fault Richard broke his leg while reaching for hidden Christmas presents in the attic? The presents were way in the back of the attic and it was really dark. The week before Mom was retrieving Christmas decorations from the attic, she asked Dad many times to replace the burned-out light bulb. He said he would but never did.

Special kids note: When asked why your older brother broke his leg falling through the ceiling while reaching for hidden-away Christmas presents – it’s not a good idea to blame your dad. Telling him that it was his fault because he didn’t replace the burned-out light bulb will not only make him mad, but it will also make sure you’re the only one that has to clean up the mess. And no, arguing that it really wasn’t your mess because you’re not the one who fell through the ceiling will do nothing but get your dad really, really mad at you.

The perfect hiding place: For the last two years that we lived on Flamingo, my three brothers, The Sister, and I couldn’t find any presents. Our parents knew we would hunt down where the presents were, maybe even open a few and then wrap and tape them back together. So for those last two years, they placed stacks of presents in all of their old hiding places. We found every one of them. Unfortunately, every wrapped box was empty.

It wasn’t until years later that I asked them where their special hiding place was. They exchanged a shared smile, had a good laugh, and then told me. The answer sat me back in my chair. Not only was it perfect, in a word, it was simply brilliant. And the place was never searched by any of us.

It was a dark place where dirty, smelly stuff got stuffed and forgotten about. Certainly not presents.

What kid out there searching for Christmas presents would ever think to look under their own bed?

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]