There we were, in our neighborhood Chloe’s Closet store, looking for some decent second-hand clothes for our grandson Malik. We found two promising things he wanted/needed— a pair of pajamas and a swim suit. They looked good and the price was right. But there was a problem— Malik was with us.
Half the point of presents is the surprise. That’s why we bother to wrap them. To prolong that moment between anticipation and fulfillment. If we celebrate Christmas, there they lie under the tree and if you’re a kid like any kid, you might lift them up to feel their heft, try to peek through the wrapping paper, try to guess from the shape— a book? A game? A big box that could have anything inside— roller skates or a basketball or…? The anticipation builds to the release of the revelation.
So the dilemma was how to balance Malik’s approval of the gift with some element of surprise. I pretended I didn’t have my wallet and asked the clerk if she could hold them for us. Yes, she could, but only for a day. The deal was made and Malik, Karen and I walked two stores down to meet up with Zadie and Talia, doing their own used-clothing shopping at Crossroads. While Malik was busy looking at things there, I snuck out back to Chloe’s Closet and bought the two items. I hoped Malik would just forget about the whole thing.
Fat chance. At the end of the next day, he asked if I got it and I feigned shock. “I’m so sorry! I forgot and now they’re closed! Aargh! But maybe she held it for one more day. I’ll check in with her tomorrow.”
Naturally, the next day, he reminded me, “Don’t forget!” So my choices were:
1) Ruin the surprise.
2) Have him upset with me for two days because I blew it.
And thus, the art of lying. I compromised and told him the items were gone, but she expected two more exactly the same to come in next week and I would mail them to him no later than the first week of January. So his disappointment was tempered by the promise of getting his wish, just a bit later.
And hopefully erased altogether by his yet deeper surprise when he opens those packages on Christmas morning! I believe his excitement will be doubled. Or not.
I’ll keep you posted.