Mischief is magic: a tradition of being bad

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My dad does not care about presents. Every year all the women in the family go through the ritual tooth-pulling of trying to coax some gift ideas out of him.

“I don’t want anything. Some socks. Gunpowder.”

Great! Just what we wanted to wrap up–socks & gunpowder!

But as much as he’s not into making a wish-list, he is into being bad. It’s tradition.

Every year, with great anticipation, we gather around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Instead of a big fancy dinner, my mom puts out some snack plates filled with goodies that friends have brought over. The lights are low. The fire is lit. We snack.

And then, with a twinkle in his eye, my dad says, “Well, girls, it’s time to rip one.”

“Ripping one” is the big tradition at our house. Each family member, after a thorough inspection, chooses one gift to rip into. The gift giver has veto power if the chosen one is too succulent for Christmas Eve or might give away another gift. After the selections have been finalized, we all simultaneously rip a present.

It’s quite satisfying. It’s institutionalized naughtyness. It’s one of my most cherished family traditions. Mischief is magic.

Merry mischief,


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