For Chrismukkah this year, I bought my kids a giant tree swing.
This has been an effort three years in the making. The kids have always wanted a tree swing (heck, I've always wanted a tree swing), but we are blessed with magically tall and ancient trees on our property — which means the lowest branches loom high above our house. Buying a tree swing is easy; getting it set up has proved to be nearly impossible.
Plenty of people have come by the house to see whether they could hang the swing for us, and plenty have turned down the paying gig. This year, I found a professional competitive tree climber to take on the task. And I could not be more thrilled with the results.
Seeing as this gift took a miracle, I want to wait until Dec. 25 — Christmas morning and the third morning of Hanukkah — to give the gift. The plan is set. A scavenger hunt, beginning with a letter left under the Christmas tree, will lead them out to the swing. It will be festive! It will be magical! It will be memorable! If it can be kept a secret until then.
The tree where the swing is sits right out front, alongside our driveway and next to where the cars are parked. It's visible from the front door and numerous windows in the house. How on earth can we keep the kids from seeing?
I reached out to my high school group of friends. They all have children around the same age. Any suggestions?
One friend recommended I put wrapping paper over the windows to look like decorations. I tried it. It looked perfect from inside, but from outside, it looked as if the home had been boarded up. As if drug deals were most definitely going on inside. As if we had Santa gagged and hogtied in the basement. I probably would have let it stand, but the darkness was getting to the kids, and they tore down the paper. Luckily, they didn't look out the window. They were too distracted by the glee of ruining my dual-purpose decor.
Seeing as the room looking out at the tree is not often played in, we decided to pretend the room is being renovated to keep the kids away. This seemed to work fine for hiding the giant tree swing when the kids were in the house, but I didn't think it would work if they went outdoors.
Because of the cold weather, they haven't wanted to play in the yard. However, just walking to and from the car and driving up and down the driveway would bring their own risks. One friend suggested we blindfold the kids but offered no story we could tell the kids as to why. Also, isn't the best part of being blindfolded figuring out how to see in spite of the obstacle?
Another friend suggested we just stick big brown paper bags over the kids' heads as we walk them to the car and strap them into their car seats.
Hey, kid, Mommy has gone insane and wants you to wear this bag over your head daily. That's cool, right?
My friend made sure to add that I should cut holes in the bags so the kids could breathe, which made me realize that her mental image of what this would look like was very different from my mental image, with the big open area having never restricted oxygen. If child protective services were considering coming to visit our boarded-up home, I'm pretty sure the brown paper bags over my children's heads (with holes cut in!) would seal the deal.
Another friend suggested blinders and candy — specifically, candy that is really hard to open, such as Laffy Taffy, with which the wrapper inevitably gets stuck onto the candy itself and an inexcusable amount of time has to be spent separating plastic from the plastic-looking confection. Perhaps this sweet distraction could work, but when I asked her where one buys blinders, all she could say was, "Horse stables?"
So far, I'm boarding up my home and my car and loading my kids up with sugar while sticking blindfolds over their eyes, equine blinders on their faces and huge paper bags over their heads. All to preserve the magic of the holidays.
All this magic is exhausting. The 25th could not come soon enough.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.