Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | December 10, 2022


“I’m done with stockings filled with coal.
It’s time for me to take control.
My dad’s the keeper of the naughty list.
I’ll find a way to switch some names
while Dad’s out reffing reindeer games.
This year there’ll be a Christmas with a twist.”

He watched his father disappear,
then scanned the room. “The coast is clear.”
He followed every practiced step precisely. 
“Though Santa may not like my ways,
it seems more often, nowadays,
what makes me naughty works out rather nicely.

“Of course the first I’ll flip is me,
but trade with who? Hmmm…let me see…
Priscilla’s far too righteous for an elf. 
She puts her nose in everywhere,
like when I toppled Joey’s chair, 
and thanks to her, spent recess on the shelf.

“Now, on to Bruce, my mate in crime.
He’s up for mayhem anytime.
There really isn’t much we haven’t done.
I’ll switch him with his sister Jean
who’s just as nice as he is mean.
I wish I could be there to watch the fun!”

“Uh-oh! I heard the whistle blow.
The games are done; I gotta go,
but first I got some bus’ness to complete.”
He swiftly swapped a dozen more,
then cleared his tracks and closed the door.
“Oh brother! Won’t tomorrow be so sweet!”

For once he woke up Christmas day,
excited for the grand array,
but saw instead, some coal and Santa’s letter:
“I recognize your cleverness
and enterprise, but nonetheless,
you only get to nice by being better.” 

Susanna Leonard Hill’s 12th Annual Holiday Contest is here! The rules: write a holiday story for children 12 and under, 250 words or less (not including the title).


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