If there's a universal allotment of white lies you can tell before your pants catch on fire, I think I use mine up at Christmas time. Between keeping the magic of Santa going for my children ("Well, sweetheart, do YOU believe in Santa?") to trying to keep their gifts secret until Christmas morning, I start to feel like a cross between a fast-talking politician and a ninja-certified operative.
The kids' ears are particularly attuned to the crinkle of shopping bags. They sense when one crosses the threshold, and I'm pretty certain that the presence of a gift in our house is the only foolproof way to distract them from the television. I'm left to ease bags into the house after bedtime, hoping I don't immediately hear the pitter patter of little feet. UPS truck's driving down my street? They're glued to the front window. I try to sneak out the door to run to the store? They want to know where I'm going. When I'll be back. Where I'm hiding presents.
But you know who really makes me feel like Ginger Rogers, fancy foot-working my way around the holidays without blowing the surprise of a gift? Not the toddler. Not my Tween. No, it's my grown adult husband. (If you're following my metaphors, I'm now a Dancing Ninja Senator. I should write a comic book. Or a rock opera.) Yep, the person who's the hardest for me to surprise is the studly 34-year-old who shares my bedroom. It isn't because he snoops, though. He's pretty cooperative like that. We're just such a team and make a habit of being so transparent with each other, that any deviation creates a disturbance in the force. (Now I'm a Jedi, too.)
If I white-lie to him telling him I'm running to the grocery store when I really need to hit the Best Buy, he's sure to ask me to grab milk and a Tide Pen. I'm a work-from-home mom who is insane enough not to use childcare, so sneaking out during the day requires dragging my little secret spillers with me. Order online? Sure, that would be great, and avoiding taking my kids out into the holiday crowds would probably lengthen my life expectancy, except for this one little problem. The biggest challenge of surprising my husband is that we share a checking account. I know a lot of couples keep their finances separate, and we've tried that. We've tried lots of things, but ultimately, one checking account is what works best for us. Except at Christmas. When he can see every stinking time I swipe the card.