“Lil couldn’t make it tonight,” said Nim. “There was a…mishap in Santa’s workshop. She has to do damage control.”
“Oh no!” said Pixie.
“What happened? And what about Glitter?” asked Figgy. Glitter was also MIM–Missing in Mischief.
Nim made circles on the floor with the tip of his toe. “Let’s just say that one of the newer recruits had an unfortunate mishap with the ribbon cutter. A very unfortunate mishap.”
Pixie and Figgy’s imaginations went running wild at this news.
“Did he wrap himself in ribbons and bows?” asked Pixie with a giggle.
“Was it pretty paper?”
Pixie and Figgy burst into a stormy fit of giggles.
Nim eyed them with concern. “Uh, are you two ok?”
Pixie cleared her throat while Figgy rolled on the floor clutching his stomach.
“Sorry, Nim. We’re just a little tired from last night’s celebration.”
Suddenly, Glitter burst through the window startling the three elves.
“Nim, come quickly. There’s been a new development and we need all elves on deck.”
Nim’s face drained of color as he flew towards the window. “Sorry guys, I have to get back to Santa’s Workshop.”
“We’ll come too!” Pixie said.
“No, no,” said Glitter. “All active Mischief Makers need to stay in the field. We need to keep to the schedule as much as we can.” And with that, Nim and Glitter raced through the window and into the night leaving Pixie and Figgy wondering what in the world was going on at the North Pole.
“Well,” said Figgy. “That was certainly odd.”
Pixie had her own thoughts on what was going on. She’d overheard a conversation in the Elfettes bathroom, but she didn’t want to tell Figgy what she suspected…especially if she was wrong.
“I’m sure they’ve got whatever it is under control. We should get busy making the dough and baking the cookies. We’ve got a long night ahead.”
Figgy nodded, but couldn’t help but wonder at the forced cheer in Pixie’s voice.
“Do you think they’ll come, Glitter?” Figgy asked.
Glitter huffed. “Like I told you the last time you asked…and the time before that…and the zillionth time before that, I don’t know.”
“Calm down, Figgy,” said Pixie. “I’m sure they will be here. Let’s just get the big surprise ready.”
* * *
“I don’t think we should go, Lil,” Nim said as he slowly put away the ribbons and bows from the wrap-a-thon.
“Everyone was a little…stressed last night, Nim. And they invited us to come tonight, remember?”
Yes, but they sent Glitter to ask us.”
Lil sat next to Nim on the toy shelf and put her arm around him. “You know, we may have been a little over the top when we visited.”
“And we did steal the ball pit Joe made for them.”
“Yes, but still…”.
“AND, did we really need to laugh at the “Gaspetti” incident?”
Nim grunted. “I guess you have a point. But…well, they get to play with Joe! And it’s just not…”.
“Fair?” Lil asked with a small smile.
“Yes! We were Joe and Jake’s elves for so long and now Figgy and Pixie get to play with him, plan with him and prank with him!”
“So when Joe made the ball pit for us–them, I just wanted to join in.”
“I know, Nim. But now it’s their turn and we should feel lucky that they want to invite us to be part of tonight’s mischief.”
Nim floated up, dragging his feet on the ground. “Ok, Lil. Let’s go.”
* * *
“Did you hear that?” Pixie whispered.
“I think it’s the—SURPISE!!!”
Everybody knows that Christmastime is best Tinsel, ribbons, bows Zeal and zip and zest! Oh! Climbing walls What a ball! Colors everywhere! Green and red and white and blue They’re even in your hair! Hey!
“Twenty-six bags!” Santa fumed. “Twenty-six bags of popcorn spilled all over the living room, in the couch cushions…even the TV remote had popcorn stuck in it!”
Pixie and Figgy stood with their heads bowed in Santa’s office. Nim and Lil hovered in the background, watching sympathetically.
“W-well,” began Figgy. “We can make it up to them tonight.”
“Yeah,” added Pixie. “W-we thought we’d make cookies. We have all the sprinkles and red–”.
“COOKIES?!” Santa roared. “Sprinkles? Red-hots? Sugar all over the kitchen??? I THINK NOT!”
Never, ever, in the history of Christmas, had Nim and Lil seen Santa this agitated. They had a sneaking suspicion that there was more going on than anyone knew. Something was bothering Santa. Something big.
The big guy took a deep, calming breath and closed his eyes. He counted to ten. “Okay. I am sorry for my outburst, but you both must understand the gravity of this situation. Since this program started, the mischief has become more and more elaborate and intense. Parents are becoming increasingly…unhappy with the North Pole.”
This was news to Nim and Lil. Sure, they knew that the mischief making became more complex each year and there were always a few complaints, but that was just a few parents. Wasn’t it?
“Well,” peeped Pixie. “We were going to follow-up with a hot chocolate river tonight, but I suppose we could do something else instead.”
Santa’s eyes narrowed and tight lines formed around his usually cherubic mouth. “Please do.”
* * *
The flight back to Joe’s house was silent. Uneasy thoughts raced through Pixie and Figgy’s minds.
“I’ve never, ever seen Santa so mad,” Figgy sighed.
“Me neither. Something else must be going on. He didn’t get this mad at Nim and Lil when they shaving creamed the whole bathroom.”
“Or, when Nim knocked over the Christmas tree.”
Pixie landed with a thud on the kitchen table and looked around. “Where do you think Joe is?”
“We are later than usual. Maybe he fell asleep?”
Pixie’s eyes lit up. “If he’s asleep…we can make a meal for the whole family!”
Figgy nodded. “But what should we make?”
“Hmmm.” Pixie tapped her foot, thinking. She flew to the pantry and rummaged around, throwing ingredients out.
“Careful, Pixie! Remember, we don’t want to make a big mess.”
She continued to sift through the ingredients until she found what she was looking for. She hefted a box to the counter and turned triumphantly to Figgy.
“For breakfast?” Figgy asked.
“Oh Figgy, Elf Gaspetti is good anytime!”
Figgy grinned. “Ok, I’ll get the sprinkles and maple syrup!”
“And I’ll find the chocolate sauce and marinara!”
This was going to be the perfect apology for the “Popcorn Incident”.
“At least they didn’t come tonight.” Figgy grumbled as he flew through the window.
“Who?” asked Glitter landing with a thud on the table.
“Figgy,” Pixie warned. “Just forget about it.”
“Forget about what?”
Figgy had no problem venting about their frustrations with Nim and Lil.
“Nim and Lil! They’re taking over and stealing all our fun!”
“Figgy, it’s not all that bad,” said Pixie, but her face said otherwise.
“Really, Pixie? Not that bad? What about the ball pit? And the night before with the Jello? They just, they…”.
“Stole the show,” finished Pixie with a long sigh. “They just stole the show.”
Glitter raised her eyes and shook her head. She had no idea just how much Nim and Lil missed being in the thick of the mischief. They had done so well last year in their new position that she just assumed they were enjoying it.
“I’ll talk to them,” she said. “Maybe I can gently suggest they, er, stay away.”
Pixie and Figgy looked at eachother, feeling bad about their outburst.
“No, Glitter,” said Pixie. “We’ll talk to them. The next time we see them.”
“Talk to who?” Joe asked with a yawn.
“Uh,” said Pixie. “To…”.
“Santa,” interrupted Glitter. “We need to talk to Santa. North Pole business.”
“Oh,” said Joe. “So…what do you have planned for tonight?”
Pixie’s eyes twinkled and she winked at Figgy. “Do you like popcorn, Joe?”
* * *
“I don’t know guys.” Joe stared wide-eyed at the living room floor. “My mom and dad are not going to like this.”
Popcorn covered the floor. They’d lost track of how much they made after the 14th bag. Glitter snorted and huffed, not able to put words together. “This is one of the worst messes in the history of Mischief Making!”
“Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration?” Figgy’s voice faltered a bit, intimidated by the look in Glitter’s eyes.
Glitter glared, turned and flew out the window. Maybe it was a bit of an exaggeration, but she was definitely not sticking around to witness the reaction when The Parents awoke to the disaster in the living room.
“You two are back, again?” Pixie raised her eyebrows at Nim and Lil.
Nim smiled. “We had so much fun yesterday, so we asked Glitter if she would mind covering for us for one more night.”
“She is really good at organizing the new recruits and keeping them out of trouble,” said Lil.
Nim nodded. “You’re right, Lil. She really seemed to be enjoying herself.”
Figgy and Pixie were worried. Did Nim and Lil think they couldn’t do the job without them? Were they so concerned over the previous season’s shenanigans that they felt they needed to keep a closer eye on them?
“That’s ok with you guys, isn’t it?” Lil frowned at the silent pair.
“Oh, sure.” Pixie smiled a little too brightly and nudged Figgy.
“Y-yeah,” added Figgy. “You guys are always welcome.”
“Great!” said Nim and Lil together. “Who’s turn is it tonight?
Joe came tip-toeing into the kitchen holding a big pile of shoes rising tall over his head. “Boy have I got a great idea tonight!”
Sneakers, sandals, slippers and flip-flops tumbled to the floor.
“Whoa!” said Figgy.
Pixie smiled. “Wow!”
“Let me guess,” said Lil. “A shoe train?”
Nim twirled. “Oh that was one of my favorites! We did that, what, three, four years ago?”
Joe just noticed Nim and Lil. “Hey guys! I didn’t know you were coming back again.”
“Yeah,” said Figgy under his breath. “Neither did we.”
* * *
The crew set to work making the shoe train from Jake’s room to the kitchen.
“This looks great!” said Lil.
Joe giggled. “It’s not finished yet!”
“Right. We need to get in the shoes.” Nim headed to a pair of dirty boots.
“Nope,” said Joe.
“Oh! We need the sleigh at the front!” Lil flew to get the little wooden sleigh from the top of the piano.
“We need that too,” said Joe. “But I’ve planned a big surprise for Pixie and Figgy…and you guys too.” With a flourish, Joe unveiled a ball pit large enough for the elves to jump in and filled with hundreds of pom-poms.
Red, blue and green.
Sparkly, glittery and shiny.
Nim and Lil wasted no time. They squealed and dove straight into the ball pit.
Nim’s head popped up above the pom-poms. “Pixie, Figgy, you guys have to try this!”
Pixie and Figgy glanced at each other, sharing the smallest of frowns. They were thinking the exact same thing.
Nim and Lil had just stolen their surprise. And worse, they were taking over all the fun.
“You should have seen it, Nim!” Pixie almost burst with happiness and excitement. “First, we set the trampoline up—.”
“And then, we put a mattress at the top of the stairs for them to slide down to a big tub filled with slime!” Figgy interrupted.
Even Glitter chuckled in remembrance of the first night.
Nim and Lil glanced at each other with a hint of…was that sadness? Disappointment? Or, jealousy? Glitter made a mental note to ask them what was going on later.
“And,” asked Lil. “Did it work out with Joe? Was he still willing to help?”
“Oh that’s the best part,” said Pixie. “It was ALL Joe’s idea!!!”
“But tonight,” Figgy smiled. “Tonight is our turn to come up with the plan. And boy do we have a good one!”
“Hey, we’d better get going,” said Pixie, looking at the time. “So we have enough time to get it all done before morning.”
Figgy jumped and flew into the air before Pixie even finished. She sighed, smiled and turned to Glitter. “Are you ready, Glitter?”
“Er, you go on ahead. I just need to check on something. In the stables.”
Pixie shrugged and launched into the air. Glitter turned to Nim and Lil.
“Okay you two. Spill it.”
Nim looked uncomfortably at Lil. “What do you mean?” he asked innocently.
“Lil?” Glitter looked pointedly at the elf.
Lil didn’t even try to pretend. “Oh, I guess we are just feeling sort of, left out of the fun,” she sighed. “I mean, an obstacle course? What could be more fun than that?”
“Yeah,” added Nim. “And they get to work with Joe. Our Joe! It’s just not…”.
“Fair?” finished Glitter.
Lil and Nim both looked at their toes, embarrassed by the admission.
“Oh you two,” Glitter snorted. “You know all you have to do is ask Figgy and Pixie if you can help!”
“We know,” said Lil. “But what about our duties at the North Pole?”
“Yeah,” added Nim. “We can’t leave Santa in the lurch at Christmas.”
“I can cover for you for one day if that’s what you are worried about,” said Glitter. “Go on, get to Joe and Jake’s so you can help with tonight’s fun. If it is what I think it is, it’s going to be…well, you’ll see.”
* * *
“Nim? Lil? What are you guys doing here?” Joe jumped up and down, a huge smile on his face. He was so happy to see his old friends in person again.
Lil smiled. “We thought we’d come and help out tonight. For old time’s sake.”
“We can’t let Figgy and Pixie have all the fun, can we?” Nim winked.
A look of relief passed over Joe’s face. “Well it’s a good thing you are here, because we are having some…trouble with tonight’s trick. Follow me.”
Nim and Lil looked at each other in alarm. What could be going on?
“I TOLD you it should have been blue jello!” Pixie yelled angrily at Figgy.
“No, you said GREEN!” Figgy answered, just as mad.
“What in the name of the North Pole is going on here?!” Lil demanded in her best stern Santa voice.
Figgy and Lil turned to face the door, shock on both their faces at seeing Nim and Lil away from the North Pole.
“What are you guys doing here?” asked Pixie.
“Yeah, aren’t you supposed to be at the North Pole organizing…something?” said Figgy.
“We were,” said Nim. “But Glitter said she could take on our duties tonight so we could come here and help you guys with…whatever you are doing. What’s with the green jello?”
That had been the exact wrong question to ask. Figgy and Pixie both puffed up and started arguing all over again.
“See, I told you it wa—.”
“ENOUGH!” said Joe in the loudest, most quiet whisper he could manage. “I keep trying to tell you that my mom has blue jello in the cabinet.”
Silence fell, immediate and complete.
“Oh,” said Pixie.
“Well,” said Figgy.
Nim and Lil burst out laughing. “You two haven’t changed a bit!”
Sheepishly, Figgy and Pixie smiled in apology to each other and to Joe.
“Alright,” said Nim. “Now, what do you need the blue jello for?”
“We-ell…”. Pixie and Figgy grinned and zipped to the kitchen. In a flash, they’d whipped up a batch of blue jello, using their Christmas magic to speed up the process. They were back in the bathroom before you could sing Jingle Bells with a giant bucket of blue jello in tow and globs of goo plopping in their wake.
Nim, Lil and Joe’s mouths dropped as they watched Pixie and Figgy dump the entire bucket into the bathtub.
“Wha–?” Joe’s face went pale.
“Not done yet!” said Pixie.
Figgy, took a bag of rainbow goldfish and sprinkled tiny fish all over the jello mess and Pixie produced a tiny fishing pole.
“I’m not sure this is a good idea after all.” Santa stood at the launchpad looking at two of his top Mischief Makers, Figgy Frost and Pixie Powder.
Twas the night before mischief and Santa was having second thoughts about their plan. Joe, one of Pixie and Figgy’s assigned kids, had caught the elves in the act of mischief making at the end of the season last year. At first, Santa had agreed to Pixie’s idea of letting Joe help with the shenanigans, but now he was having second thoughts.
“But he was so excited last year, Santa!” squeaked Figgy.
“And we have so many fun ideas!” Pixie piped in.
“Oh Santa, we have to let them try,” said Lil, one of the Chief Elves in charge of the Mischief Maker program. Her partner, Nim, enthusiastically nodded her head.
Glitter, their reindeer and sidekick, stomped a hoof and voiced a concern she’d been having since the previous December. “Santa, if we do not at least try to work with Joe, we would have to give up the house entirely and be reassigned. Jake has not seen us in action. Do we really want to leave him wondering what happened to his elves?”
Santa eyed Glitter with a rosy grin and shook his head. “Playing on my weakness, Glitter?”
Glitter snorted cheerfully, she knew Santa would never willingly disappoint a child.
Figgy, Pixie, Nim, and Lil all held their breath hoping Santa would say yes.
“Ok team, but this is a trial run. I don’t want other Mischief Makers thinking they can do the same. It’s too risky.”
The team cheered and Figgy, Pixie, and Glitter zipped into the night sky, eager to get started on the season.
Nim and Lil crouched, ready to spring up and follow them into the dark and starry night, but Santa stopped them.
“Ahem. Aren’t you forgetting something?”
Nim and Lil had gotten so caught up in their friends’ enthusiasm, they had forgotten their responsibilities as Chief Mischief Makers. Their shoulders slumped.
“Of course,” sighed Lil. “Come on Nim, let’s go train the new recruits.”
Santa watched Nim and Lil trudge towards the training area with concern. He had noticed over the past year that they were not as excited about their duties at the North Pole. Perhaps it was because they spent most of their first year helping Figgy and Pixie with their solo assignment and hadn’t had time to get used to their new roles.