A family tradition is often thought of as a ceremonial act that occurs during the holiday season. The family gathers together as someone reads a story, carves the turkey, or picks out the perfect Christmas tree. In a sense, we could consider these “traditional traditions” but in my family we tend to embrace the less formal, more unique, traditions.

On Christmas morning my siblings and I would crash into my parents room with reckless abandon as early as possible. We couldn’t hold back the anticipation of shredding wrapping paper to reveal what Santa had brought for us. But every Christmas morning this rowdy wake-up call would initiate the launch of my father’s villainous scheme.

Dad would act as though we had asked him to go out and clean the gutters in the snow. It took at least three rounds of pouncing, pestering and loud persuasion to get him to make the initial movement out of bed. We rejoiced as he finally sat up and swung his legs over the side. The time had finally come to see if we had been naughty or nice and, apparently, we had been naughty enough for my dad to take matters into his own hands.

I would later learn that this was all out of hopes to drum up suspense, and not from laziness or a lack of holiday spirit. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Year after year he would prolong our excruciating anticipation by making a direct line to the bathroom to shower before coming out to the living room. And every time we would state our case, through moaning and groaning, that a shower was not at all necessary to open gifts.

Over the years it became a running joke that we would have to wait for my dad to shower before opening presents on Christmas morning. Eventually, once we were old enough, we learned to embrace the intentional delay my father would force upon us. Of course, we would still state our dissatisfaction, but mostly just to let my dad feel like his efforts had been recognized.