Stashing Santa Loot

Last year Cayden — our resident environmentalist and animal expert — questioned Santa and his gravity-challenged reindeer.

This year his doubt has only deepened.

Why would anyone live in a hostile climate like the North Pole? How do reindeer fly without wings? Wouldn’t it be faster to take a plane? And how does Santa reach every house in the world when it takes 16 hours just to get to Australia?

The kid is killing me. I suspect that schoolmates are further poisoning the Santa well.

The only thing that I can do is Sell, Sell, Sell this mythical story. And change the subject.

I realize that this is my final year of lackadaisical present stashing — stockpiling gifts in the darkest corner of the attic. Just in case, I blockaded the door with a heavy box of magazines.

But as early as next year, The Boy will be on the hunt.

My mother was a fabulous stasher of Santa gifts. I was about 8 years old when my best friend Judy, injected doubt in the Santa bubble. In December, when my parents scotch-taped the advent calendar to the fridge, Judy and I launched a massive, exhaustive search. Like cops with a search warrant, we combed through closet shelves, using a ruler to probe behind Dad’s slide carousels. We rode the wobbly attic boards, suspended over cotton-candy insulation, to paw through luggage. We rooted behind the hot-water heat in the basement.

We never found a scrap of evidence. Not even a swatch of wrapping paper.

A couple years ago I asked Mom to reveal the secret to her success. Apparently her motto was “things best hidden are disguised in plain sight.”

I was in arm’s reach of Santa’s bounty every time I fiddled with my parents’ clock radio. Their bed frame included a shelf/headboard — which was actually a hollowed-out storage space. Probably for quilts and blankets. Because the surface was constantly stocked with stained coffee mugs and newspaper inserts, I hadn’t the faintest clue that the shelf top was hinged.

Unfortunately, I don’t own any hollow furniture so I plan to conceal Christmas presents in the horse trailer — specifically, in the “neck” of the gooseneck. Reaching the space is awkward and holds no allure for the kids.

That’s my best spot until someone proffers a better idea. Suggested locales that you or your parents used to squirrel away the Santa stash? Brag away here!