“It’s on!” For my sister and me, these words mark the official beginning of our annual holiday gift giving tradition: The Taunting. The first to throw down the gauntlet takes the immediate lead. This is always accompanied by a mandatory taunting in a conversation that goes something like this:
“Just so you know, I got you something today.”
“Oh, no, you did not!”
“Yep! It’s on the table. I’m looking at it right now.” This is said slowly and deliberately and in a teasing tone that would make any fourth grader envious.
“That’s not right!” said seriously, followed by an excited “What did you get?”
“Nope! Not telling. You’ll have to wait. But you’re really going to like it.”
“Fine. It’s on, then!”
“Just so we’re clear on the score so far, I have one point. You have none. Have a nice day!”
Most years, this begins some time in the fall. Occasionally, it happens earlier. One year, I started the ball rolling at the beginning of June with a simple text: “It’s on!” Immediately afterwards, I received a long-distance phone call:
“What the hell are you doing? It’s only June!”
“Yep! And I got you two things, which means that you are two points behind me. Suck it up!”
My sister huffed in exasperation, paused briefly, then said menacingly, “Fine. If that’s how you want to play, then that’s how we’ll play. It. Is. On!”
From that point until the day we gather to exchange gifts, whenever one of us acquires something for the other, a taunting text will be sent. One year, we made a mutual agreement to put a spending cap on our purchases. We both blew our budgets by about 100%, each. The next year, we briefly considered trying again, then nixed the idea as pointless.
This year, my sister was the first to issue the taunt.
That’s okay, though.
There’s always next year.