Behave or Forget Christmas

We are often told of the horrors of behaving badly before Christmas.  Here is a bit of fiction about what happened to Mark Monroe this year at Christmas.  You parents might consider reading this to your older youngsters.   Jim
Behave or Forget Christmas
By Jim Riggs



Twas the fifteenth of December, just after noon, when Jessica Monroe’s answering machine received the call.

Three hours later, she parked her Ford Explorer in the garage.  Stepping into her kitchen, she spotted the flashing light and pushed the button to listen to her answering machine.

“Hi, Mrs. Monroe.  This is Alice Hudson.  Could you give me a call, please?  We need to talk about Mark’s math class.  I’m free from 1:30 to 2:00 or after school, about 3:30.  My number is 445-3425.  Or I’ll try you later.”

Jessica put her head in her hands, closing her eyes.

Not again, she thought.  How are we going to get that kid civilized?  

She dialed 445-3425.

“This is Alice Hudson.”

“Hi, Ms. Hudson.  I got your call.  Has Mark been causing problems again?”

“I’d rather not talk on the phone, Mrs. Monroe.  Can you and your husband come in and see me sometime soon?  Maybe tomorrow after school?”

“I can do that, but Marv is awful busy these days.  He doesn’t get home until nearly eight most nights.  I could come tomorrow.  Would 3:40 work?”

“Perfect.  See you then.  Room 132.”

“Anything I should talk to him about tonight?”

“We’ll talk specifics tomorrow.  His behavior is distracting the whole class.  He needs to start focusing on being a positive person.”

“It will get better.  We’ll talk tomorrow.  Thank you Ms. Hudson.”

When Mark came home, Jessica said, “Mark.  Ms. Hudson called.  She wants some improvement in your math class behavior.  You are restricted to your room tonight.”

“Sorry, Mom.  I’m playing ball at Larry’s.  See you later.”

“Come back here young man.  Go to your room.”

“Later, Mom.”

Mark grabbed his ball glove and ran out the door.


Mark kept running.

At 6:30 Mark appeared at the front door, throwing his glove in the corner of the living room, heading for the kitchen.

“Hi, Mom.  What’s for supper?”

“I’ve already eaten.  You go to your room.  You may not be eating supper tonight.  You caused problems in school and you didn’t mind me when I told you to go to your room.”

“It wasn’t a big deal.  We was just having fun.  Ms. Hudson is a terrible teacher.”

“Doesn’t matter.  You have to behave in class and you have to mind me or I’m not going to feed you.  If you want supper, go to your room.  And if you want Christmas presents, your behavior in school must improve.”

“Oh, Mom.”

“Don’t ‘Oh, Mom.’ me.  I’ve had it.  Got to your room.  We’ll see what your father has to say.”

An hour later, Jessica brought Mark a hamburger, some potato chips and a glass of milk.

“Bring me your tray when you’re done.  Then get after your school work.”

“I ain’t got no school work.”

“Then copy your history book.”

“It’s at school.”

“She handed him Tom Sawyer.  Then copy this.  You better have two pages done when your father comes home.”

December 22 was the last day of school before Christmas.  Jessica Monroe called Mark’s teacher.

“Hi, Ms Hudson.  I was wondering if Mark’s behavior in math class has improved last week?”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Monroe.  It improved for a day or two after our conference, but in the last few days, he’s been shooting paper clips with a rubber band, making rude noises, carving on his desk with a knife, using a squirt gun at recess, and hollering back and forth to his friends across the room.  He’s hurting his progress and the progress of the entire class.  It needs to change, Mrs. Monroe.”

“Marv and I will work on it over vacation.  Thanks for keeping us in touch.”

On Christmas Eve, excitement filled the Monroe house.  The family started to bed early.  Their Christmas tree was surrounded with gifts.  At 1:30 a.m. soot trickled down to the base of the fireplace and a little old man with a white beard and a red stocking hat ducked his head and crawled out.  Pulling a large red bag full of presents behind him; he also carried a red gym bag.

Santa reached into the large red bag, pulling out a half-dozen gaily-wrapped gifts, scattering them around the tree.  He added a pair of new Reebok running shoes with a tag that said, “To Jessica, From Santa.”

Then he pulled out a fly rod and reel that had been protruding from the top of his bag.  It’s tag read, “To Marv, From Santa.”

He reached into his bag, pulling out candy and small gifts, filling two of the three stockings.  Then, reaching into the smaller bag, Santa filled the third stocking with hunks of coal black coal.

Finally, he searched the tags of the gifts under the tree and deposited two-thirds of them into his bag.   Turning, putting his finger beside his nose, up the chimney he rose.

At 5:00 am, Mark came into his parents room.

“Alright.  What’s going on?”

“What time is it?”  said Marv.

“Time to get up and open presents, Dad.  But what have you done with all my presents?  They’re gone.”

“What are you talking about, Mark?”

“My presents.  They’re all gone.  And my stocking is full of coal.  I know I wasn’t as good in school as I should have been, but this is Christmas, Dad.  This joke’s gone too far.  I want my presents.”

Marv, Jessica, and Mark walked downstairs and saw presents for the parents and nothing but coal for Mark.”

“Jessica smiled and looked at Marv.

“Marv, did you do this?”

“I’m astounded, Jess.  Last night there were presents here.  I was going to fill stockings, but I feel asleep.  It wasn’t me.”

Mark looked at the floor near the fireplace.

“Mom, Dad, look!  Little boot tracks, going to and from the fireplace.”

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