This reporter has just finished interviewing Santa Claus himself about a terrible oversight in the Mischief Maker Program and what will be done to remedy the situation.
“Mrs. Claus recently discovered that there is only one elf assigned to most of the Children’s Hospitals. And that there are some who are not on the Mischief Maker Call List at all. As such, we will be sending the best and brightest strike teams to make amends.”
And who is this “Special Strike Team”? None other than Nim, Lil, Pixie, Figgy, and Glitter the Reindeer! What will they do? How will they remedy this terrible neglect? Whatever it is, this reporter will be on the case…every step of the way!
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
All Mischief Makers and members of the B.R.A.T.T. Squad gathered at Santa’s toyshop late on Christmas eve after all the presents were delivered. Bottles of Patti’s Peppermint Pop and Santa’s Secret Sauce were passed around the room and snacks galore weighed down the toy tables.
“The end of another spirited and successful season!” shouted Santa above the crowd. “Tomorrow, we start work on planning next season. But, tonight, we celebrate!”
As the night wore on, a rousing chorus of an old tune rumbled through the crowd of elves.
Oh the toys are there and the kids’ asleep The cookies are gone You won’t hear a peep And the elves throw a party all dressed up in red They’ve worked hard all season while the kids are in bed
It’s a mischievous bunch (mischievous bunch) It’s a mischievous bunch (mischievous bunch)
Run run Lil’ Lil Run run Pixie Get in gear Nim You too Figgy!
Their all eatin’ candy and their faces are red Nim grabs Lil they hop on the sled Pixie and Figgy follow close behind They’re headin’ for the pole for a real good time
It’s a mischievous bunch (mischievous bunch) It’s a mischievous bunch (mischievous bunch)
Run run Lil’ Lil Run run Pixie Get in gear Nim You too Figgy!
Ooh We’re the Mischief Makers (Mischief comes this time each year)
Ooh We’re the Mischief Makers (Mischief comes this time each year)
Pixie and Figgy followed Glitter to Santa’s house.
“What is this all about, Glitter?” asked Figgy.
“Yeah, why all the secrecy?” asked Pixie.
“Mrs. Claus will explain everything,” said Glitter.
When they walked into the cozy living room, Mrs. Claus sat in a rocking chair by the fireplace looking over a long, long list. Nim and Lil were already there, enjoying a steaming cup of hot maple syrup with extra sugar and candy cane sprinkles. At the sound of footsteps, Mrs. Claus looked up. “Ah, there you are. Thank you for coming to see me.”
“Of-of course Mrs. C. But…what is going on?” asked Pixie.
Mrs. Claus smiled and gestured to the corner of the room. “I’d like you all to meet Charly.”
A smallish elf with bright green eyes stepped out and nodded in greeting.
“Charly’s assignment was not on your list, but he needs our help. The job has become too big for him and he is having trouble keeping up. Poor Charly is in charge of a rather large assignment. How many children would you say?”
“Oh, 25, sometimes 30 kids,” shrugged Charly.
“Wow, Charly,” said Pixie with wide eyes. That was more than double the Malloys.
“Indeed,” said Mrs. Claus. “I would like the four of you to go with Charly and see what his situation is.”
“Pardon me for asking, Mrs. Claus, but does Santa know about this change in protocol?” asked Nim. “I only ask because he had to approve all the other assignments and if this house wasn’t on the list–”.
At the steely look in Mrs. Claus’ eyes, Nim abruptly stopped talking.
“Mr. Claus will need evidence and proof. He does not have time to travel to this…house…as he is preparing for tomorrow night’s deliveries. So, you four will go get the lay of the land and report back to me. Then, and only then, will we take this to Santa.”
At the looks on their faces, Mrs. Claus softened her tone. “It is better this way. Trust me.”
“You have your work cut out for you for sure,” said Lil.
Figgy and Nim were speechless as they stood over at the end of a long hallway in the Children’s Hospital. Sleeping children snoring softly in each room. The beeps and whirrs of medical equipment filling the air.
“And you’ve been working this place all by yourself?” asked Pixie.
Charly yawned. “Yep. For a few years now.”
Charly had dark circles under his eyes and he looked tired. Very, very tired.
“Why didn’t you ask for help sooner? This is a lot of work for one elf!” exclaimed Figgy.
“Oh I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t want to complain. These kids need joy in their lives and I try my hardest to give it to them, but I’m so darn tired. So, when I saw the advertisement for the B.R.A.T.T. crew I thought I’d just apply and see what happened.”
Pixie, Lil, Nim, and Figgy felt awful. They often lamented about how much work the Malloy house was, but there were only 12 of them. Looking around, there had to be at least 25 kids Charly was responsible for.
“Right,” said Lil. “You have help now and we are going to figure something out for next year as well. We need more Mischief Makers assigned to this hospital.”
“And,” added Pixie. “This isn’t the only Children’s Hospital in the world. We have to do something.”
“Right,” said Figgy. “We will talk to Santa after Christmas and work out a plan. For now, let’s get to work!”
When each child had a surprise at the end of their beds, the five elves were exhausted but happy with their work.
“Thank you so much Pixie and Figgy, Nim and Lil,” said Charly gratefully.
“Not at all, Charly,” said Pixie. “Next year, we’ll have a whole crew assigned, so you have the help you need.”
As each elf got into position, Figgy couldn’t help but think about all the other children’s hospitals in the world. Were they assigned elves? And if so, were they short staffed and burnt out on the job like Charly?
“It’s called ‘hide and seek’ for a reason,” grumbled Kringle. “I can’t help it if they don’t at least try to look for me!”
“Kringle,” said Figgy. “You weren’t even on the property. You were hiding in the mailbox across the street.”
“And the other day you were hiding in a coffee shop down the street. Did you really think the boys would find you in either of those places???” Pixie was losing patience. They had been discussing Kringle’s unorthodox hiding plans for the season for over an hour. And getting nowhere.
Kringle puffed up, looking ready to fight, but then, Figgy put the icing on the cake.
“Of course, we could just send a note to the Candy Cane Review Board. You know, let them know that you can’t come to the tasting this year because you have to re-take Mischief Maker classes.”
Slowly deflating, Kringle eyed the two nervously. He couldn’t be kicked off the Candy Cane Review Board. New flavors came out every year the day after Christmas and Kringle had been tasting for years.
“I heard this year’s new flavors are Buttercream Dream and Chocolate Swirl,” said Figgy.
“Fine. I will hide in places that the boys will be able to easily find me. Won’t be any fun, but I’ll do it.”
“Kringle,” said Pixie. “There are plenty of ways to make each night fun. Especially since you have two excited and enthusiastic boys looking for you.”
“Yeah, do you know how disappointed they are that they can’t find you?” said Figgy.
“Really?” said Kringle. “I had no idea.”
“Probably because you are never there!” said Pixie. “Now come on. You have some making up to do.”
Figgy and Pixie let Kringle lead the way in the flight to the Kipps’ home. The fresh night air and starry sky did much to cool Pixie’s annoyance at Kringle. By the time they reached the living room, she was back to her old self and full of ideas.
“Tomorrow, you could hide here.” Pixie pointed to the Christmas tree.
“The next night you can do something mischievous like…oh, I know,” Figgy had found a sewing machine in the corner of the room. “You can make it look like you needed to sew up your clothes, but then got tangled in the thread!”
Kringle, despite his frown, let out a small giggle, quickly disguising it as an unbelievable cough.
“But tonight, you are going to do something really special. A scavenger hunt,” said Pixie.
Kringle’s eyes lit up. Now this was something he could get behind.
Pixie and Figgy pulled supplies out and started placing the clues around the house while Kringle followed them around asking questions. By the time they were done, Kringle was smiling. Genuinely smiling.
“This is going to be a blast!” Kringle exclaimed.
“I’m glad you think so,” said Pixie, handing Kringle a list of suggestions for the last few days of the year. “You’d better make the rest of the season as fun as you can. These boys have been so good and deserve a good elf.”
Kringle nodded firmly and climbed into his hiding place. Once settled, Pixie and Figgy waved goodbye and flew out the window.
“Are you sure that spot was a good idea, Pixie?” asked Figgy.
“Oh I’m certain. Being stuck in a balloon all day is hilarious and, the least he can do to make up for his behavior this season.”
Figgy, Pixie, Nim and Lil huddled together on the North Pole Tarmac.
“Come on, Nim! You must have discovered something about what is going on with Glitter.”
“I’ve told you, Figgy, Glitter is keeping…whatever it is…under wraps. She won’t budge and just keeps saying that she’ll tell us what’s going on when she has “permission” from Mrs. C.”
Pixie and Lil sighed in frustration. Glitter had become more and more cagey about her activities with Mrs. Claus and they were starting to worry that it may be something that would affect the entire Mischief Maker and B.R.A.T.T. programs.
“Shhh!” Pixie hissed. “Here she comes!”
“Maybe we can get something out of her tonight at Joe and Jake’s,” whispered Lil.
“Oh, hello Glitter!” Figgy said brightly. “Fine evening, isn’t it?”
Glitter looked sideways at Figgy and shook her head. “Look, I’ve told you all a million times. I cannot reveal anything about this special chi—er, project. Please, please stop badgering me about it.”
“Aha!” said Pixie. “So it has something to do with…chili?”
“Or, chicken?” said Nim.
“Ooo, I know!” shouted Figgy. “Chinchillas!”
Everyone, including Glitter, stared at Figgy.
“Chinchillas, Figgy?” asked Lil. “Really?”
“Anyway,” said Glitter before an argument started. “We’d better get going. I can only help set up the birthday surprise for a little while before I have to get back to continue planning for…well, nevermind. Let’s just get going.
With exasperated and frustrated mumblings, the elves and Glitter took off into the night sky and headed for Joe and Jake’s house to set up the annual birthday surprise.
“Do you think they’ve outgrown candy and cake and all the sugar for breakfast?” asked Lil as she perused the contents of the cabinet and fridge. “Everything in here seems…really healthy.”
“Nah,” said Nim. “It’s Christmas time. I bet there is cookie dough and ice cream in the freezer and I’m sure the boys have candy hidden in their rooms; some things never change.”
“Woo-hoo!” exclaimed Pixie. “I found the secret stash!”
She hovered above a drawer filled to the brim with candy, cookies, chocolate and all manner of treats they’d expected to find.
“Wow,” said Figgy. “It seems like maybe they have enough sugar. Maybe we should do something different this year.”
Nim gaped at Figgy.
Glitter, on the other hand, praised him. “I completely agree Figgy. There is far to much sugar in—.”
“GOTCHA!” shouted Figgy. “As if there is ever too much sugar at Christmas!”
“Figgy, you know that the metabolism of an elf is very different from that of a human child. As such…oh nevermind…”. Glitter trailed off as the elves were overtaken by a fit of raucous laughter.
“Oh Glitter,” said Lil. “We hear you. That is exactly why we decided to go the route of a yogurt parfait bar instead of pancakes this year.”
Glitter smiled and nodded. “I think that is a wonderful idea. Fresh fruits, yogurt and granola are a much healthier alternative.”
“Yes,” said Pixie. “We’ll have those things…but we’ll also have all of this!”
With a flourish, Pixie produced a line of sweet, sugary add-ins for the yogurt parfait bar. There were strawberries, blueberries, bananas and granola. But, chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers, mini marshmallows and all kinds of mini candies danced out behind these healthier options.
“I guess that’s a start,” Glitter said in a resigned tone.
“And don’t worry, we’re leaving a few fun minute-to-win-it games too. Exercise, after all, is important,” winked Nim.
A roar of elf voices filled the toy shop. Elves joyfully jostled each other, getting excited for the end of the season.
“Well,” said Figgy. “How is the season going?”
“SO MUCH FUN!”
“Ok, ok!” said Figgy. “We’ve just over one week to go before the grand finale.”
“WE LOVE YOU FIGGY!”
“If anyone is having trouble—really having trouble,” said Pixie, eying the two super-Figgy-fans in the front. “Please come and see Nim, Figgy, Lil, or me after the Christmas Corn Syrup toasts.”
With the clunk of glass tumblers full of gooey red and green syrup, most of the BRATT Crew had left for their respective assignments. But, two small…very small…elves remained.
“Mr. Figgy, sir?” said the green clad one.
“Ms. Pixie, ma’am?” asked the one in red.
Figgy and Pixie smiled and nodded encouragement.
“Hi, I’m PB…”.
“…and I’m Pickles.”
“We are at our magic’s end with our kid.”
“Why don’t you two start at the beginning and tell us about the problem,” said Pixie.
“Ok,” they said in unison.
“It all started on our second night there…,” began Pickles.
“We were watching and waiting for little Lolli’s bedtime—,” continued PB.
“When her parents suddenly called out, asking, ‘Lolli! Have you put away the dishes?’” cut in Pickles.
“Then,” picked up PB. “She did the most peculiar thing.”
Figgy, Pixie, and even Pickles, who already knew the story, waited with bated breath.
“She…winked?” said Figgy.
“Are you sure she didn’t have something in her eye?” asked Pixie.
“Yes,” they said together. “We’re sure.”
“Go on,” said Figgy.
“Then, once again, her mom called up, asking her to do her chores.”
“When she didn’t answer, her mom came stomping up the stairs to find Lolli ‘sound asleep’.”
“But Lolli wasn’t asleep,” said Pickles. “As soon as her mom left the room–.”
“Lolli sat straight up in bed and began silently giggling until it turned into a full on belly laugh and could no longer be contained.”
“It didn’t stop there,” said PB. “She pretended to be sick the next day to get out of walking the dog.”
Pickles continued. “One day, every time her dad asked her to take the garbage out, she just said ‘5 more minutes’ until he gave up and took it out himself.”
“And, when her mom asks her to brush her teeth she always, always says ‘I already brushed them’,” finished PB.
“Maybe she has already brushed them,” said Figgy.
PB and Pickles shook their heads. “Come with us and see.”
The elves zipped to the Peterson’s home. Pixie and Figgy watched in wonderment as PB and Pickles shot through the air like tiny rockets. When they’d finally reached the home, the tiny elves led them to Lolli’s room.
“Good, she’s snoring,” said PB.
“Yes,” said Pickles. “It’s really strong when she’s snoring.”
Pixie and Figgy exchanged puzzled glances.
“Go on,” said PB.
“Smell it,” said Pickles, pointing at Lolli’s face.
Pixie and Figgy crept onto Lolli’s pillow. She let out a mighty snore and a blast so strong and disgusting hit the elves, knocking them to the floor where they wretched and gagged.
“That is awful!” shouted Figgy while he held his nose and raced for the door with Pixie. They could not get away from the stench fast enough.
When PB and Pickles finally found them in the bathroom, squirting FebrezeTM at each other’s faces, Figgy and already formulated a plan. “Right. I saw some OreoTM cookies on our way to Lolli’s room. I’m assuming she likes them?”
PB and Pickles nodded.
“Good,” he picked up a tube of toothpaste. “Let’s get them in here.”
“Figgy,” said Pixie. “You’re not going to—“.
“Yep, we are making these plain old OreosTM minty fresh.”
Pixie had watched as Glitter silently slipped out of Sugar Water during Figgy’s 3rd, possibly 4th retelling of the previous night’s mayhem. After telling Figgy, Nim and Lil what she saw, they decided to investigate.
“There she is,” whispered Figgy as he watched Glitter canter to Santa’s home.
“Why do they keep meeting?” asked Pixie for the hundredth time. “What are they talking about and why isn’t Santa there too?”
“I don’t think he knows,” said Nim. “He seemed surprised the other day when I mentioned that I had seen Glitter at his house when I dropped off Mrs. C.’s order of sugarplums.”
“Oh Nim, that wasn’t surprise,” said Lil. “That was amusement. Your face was covered in powdered sugar and sticky goo from eating the sugarplums.”
The four elves watched as Glitter hauled a large sack to a sled parked around the corner.
“That’s not Santa’s sled,” said Figgy.
“No,” said Nim. “That is the emergency back-up to Santa’s sled. It is normally used only for special missions…hey! They must be on some ‘special’ mission!”
But they could not stay to find out more. Nim’s ‘hey!’ sailed across the field of swirly-whirly gumdrops and right into Glitter’s ear.
Nim and Lil raced for the candy cane path behind Santa’s Workshop while Figgy and Pixy shot straight into the air, hurtling toward their next house.
Landing in a heap on the front doorstep, Pixie and Figgy finally had a moment to catch their breath.
“Do you think Nim and Lil made it back to the Workshop?” asked Pixie.
“I hope so,” said Figgy. “They were on foot and Glitter is fast, but I’m not sure if she really saw us or not.”
Pixie was just about to say more when she noticed an elf with its face pressed up against the frosted window in the door.
“That must be Lucie,” said Figgy.
Lucie smiled when she heard her name and started dancing and twirling and jumping up and down.
“Hmm,” said Pixie. “She seems…enthusiastic.”
Figgy snorted. “Let’s go.”
They both entered the house and were immediately tackled.
“I’m so excited to finally meet you two!!!”
“Uh, it’s nice to meet you as well…Lucie?”
“YES! Oh, you know my name! You know my name!!!”
“We-ell,” said Figgy. “You did send a letter asking for BRATT assistance so…”.
“YAY! You read my letter! I can’t believe you read it! Did you read the part about howr they won’t clean their bathroom?”
“And how the parents are getting really, really mad?”
“Yes, we di–.”
“AND how they said if they don’t start cleaning up they’re bathroom they’ll take all their presents back and tell Santa to skip over their house?”
“Whoa. That’s harsh,” said Figgy.
“Lucie, Figgy and I read your letters, all 24 of them. That’s why we are here. To help. And, we have an idea.”
“I’m all ears,” said Lucie with a slightly hysterical laugh.
“Could you show Figgy and I the bathroom? We’d like to see how bad it is for ourselves.”
Lucie led the elves to the bathroom. When they walked in, they both gasped. It was, quite possibly, the filthiest bathroom they had ever seen. And they had seen the Abominable Snowman’s bathroom, so that was saying something.
“How in the world did it get this bad?” asked Figgy, holding his nose.
“Where are their parents?” asked Pixie, staring in disgust at the pile of used towels on the floor.
“It’s like I said in my 23rd letter. The parents have given up. And, they never come down here if they can help it.”
“Right,” said Pixie. “We’ll clean the bathroom, top to bottom. Scrub every surface until it shines.”
Lucie frowned. “But, wouldn’t that just show them that someone else will pick up their messes? Won’t they just keep being, well, slobs?”
“Ah,” said Figgy. “But you forgot the one thing that will ensure this works.”
Figgy and Pixie exchanged glances. “Toilet paper.”
Lucie waited for an explanation. None came. Instead, Figgy and Pixie flew to the cabinet under the sink and gingerly opened the door. They pulled out several rolls of toilet paper and rejoined Lucie in the hall.
“Ok, Lucie, where is their bedroom? We have some mummies to wrap.”
Lucie, Figgy and Pixie worked together to wrap both sleeping boys in toilet paper. Only their eyes, nose and mouth were left uncovered. They then rolled the rest of the toilet paper back to their now sparkling bathroom.
“I still don’t understand how this is going to help.”
“Trust us. With this note, it will help,” said Pixie.
Dear Sammy and Tim,
We’ve cleaned your bathroom, spic and span. We’ll only do it once. If it gets that dirty ever again, we will personally tell Santa to bring you nothing but toilet paper for Christmas.
Figgy and Pixie read over the Thompson’s file a second, then a third time, hardly believing their eyes. Phrases like “destroyed the coffee table” and “ruined the microwave” popped out.
“I can’t believe the parent’s have let this go for so long,” said Pixie.
“Me neither,” agreed Figgy. “It sounds like this Terry kid has taken apart and attempted to reassemble everything in the house!”
“And he tried blaming poor Tattle, but since this penchant for disassembling has been going on since August, the parents wouldn’t believe him.”
“It could have been Tattle,” Figgy pondered.
“Figgy! How can you say that?”
“Think about it. There is nothing to say we can’t go visit our houses outside of the Christmas window.”
“I can assure you, Figgy. I did not destroy property and ruin electronics.” Tattle stood behind Figgy, arms crossed and a scowl on his face.
“Oh, hi Tattle,” said Pixie nervously. “Figgy wasn’t accusing you. He was just, just thinking outside the box.”
“Yes, well I would appreciate it if he would think inside the box from now on.”
Figgy cleared his throat and looked at his toes. “Er, sorry Tattle. Won’t happen again.”
Tattle’s shoulders slumped and he sighed heavily. “It’s fine, Figgy. I would have wondered the same. I am just at my wit’s end with Terry. I’ve tried bringing Lego bricks, experiment kits, and all manner of bobs and bits. Nothing helps.”
“I am sure you have done everything you can, Tattle. Let’s get going to the house and see if Figgy and I can take a crack at the problem.” Pixie grabbed Tattle by the hand and off they flew.
When they peered through the window upon reaching the house, all three elves gulped. They saw Terry busy at work on what used to be a large television.
“Is that…the screen?” whispered Pixie, pointing to a shiny grayish sheet cracked and shattered on the floor.
“I think so,” said Figgy.
“Uh oh,” said Tattle.
Before Figgy and Pixie could ask, a tall and imposing woman came striding into the room, the look on her face so furious even Santa would quaver under her gaze.
“Terrence Bartholomew Thompson!”
The small boy simply looked up from his project and looked at his mom with a guilty expression.
“Sorry, Mom. I really thought I could get it all back together this time.”
“To your room, now!” She sighed in frustration as she followed Terry up the stairs.
“See,” said Tattle. “This is what I’ve been dealing with.”
Pixie and Figgy sat silently pondering. It was clear that Terry loved to work with his hands and build things. But how to get him to stop taking things apart first?
And then, like a bright, twinkling star, Pixie had it.
“Figgy, do you have the emergency bag on you?”
“Pixie, I always have the emergency bag on me. No way would I leave the Pole without it. No way would I ever, ever, EVER forget it. Especially not since tha–.”
“Great!” interrupted Pixie. “Let me have it. I know exactly what we need. Figgy, you and Tattle clean up the TV mess while I find what I’m looking for and then we’ll meet back here.
While Figgy and Tattle zipped around cleaning up the electronics mess, Pixie rifled through the Emergency Bag and found the item they needed. “A-Ha!”
Figgy looked up and bee-lined back to Pixie, followed closely by Tattle.
“The Gingerbread House!” Figgy clapped his hands and smiled.
Tattle’s face fell. “I’ve already tried The Gingerbread House. It kept him busy for an hour.”
Pixie grinned. “Yes, but were all the pieces whole?”
Tattle cocked his head to the side. “Whole?”
“Yes. Because if the pieces were all whole and unbroken, it wouldn’t take him all that long to slap the walls together, right? But…” she raised the boxed gingerbread house high above her head and–SMASH–it hit the ground with a soft crack of gingerbread . “If it is all in pieces, it will take longer and be more interesting for Terry to build! He can make his own creation just like he tries to do with the couch. And the tv. And the toaster. And–well, you get the point.”
Figgy clapped him on the back. “Just leave it to good ol’ Pixie!”
Concerned at the frantic tone of that last cry for help, Pixie and Figgy raced around the room looking for the source of the terrified scream.
“Found her! She’s over here!” called Figgy.
When Pixie caught up with Figgy, she gasped at the state of the poor elf. Until, that is, she saw that Jingle was laughing. Hysterically, and perfectly at ease in the Tupperware container of cheesy snowballs.
“Oh thank goodness you guys are here! I need your help!” She threw a snowball at them.
“You seem…ok to me,” said Pixie.
“Me? Oh, yes I’m fine. But these kids are SOOOO energetic, that I have already gone through all the activities I had planned for the season! I could really use a little help coming up with more.”
Figgy and Pixie smiled. Nim and Lil had come to their rescue many times when they’d first started and didn’t really know what to do, or had run out of good ideas. Now, it was their turn to help.
“Ok, Jingle,” said Pixie. “What have you done so far?”
“Let’s see. I set up an obstacle course. Sledding down the stairs. Snowball fight. Floor is lava. That sort of thing.”
“Sounds like the Jingles like more active activities. Have you tried Minute-to-Win-It games?” asked Figgy.
“Minute-to-Win-It games?” asked Jingle. “What are those?”
“What are they?” asked Pixie.
“Only the most fun games on the planet!” said Figgy.
“Here, we’ll show you.”
Pixie helped Jingle out of the snowballs and led her to the living room where they spent several hours brainstorming games for Jingle to play with the Jones. A game or two for every night until Christmas.
“Thanks you two!” said Jingle. “You two should write a book with ideas like this for other Mischief Makers who get stuck in the same old, same old ideas.”
Jingle waved as Figgy and Pixie flew back to the North Pole thinking about Jingle’s idea and wondering…