At exactly 6:00am, Todd’s alarm clock went off. It began playing some random song his mom liked. “Wake me up, before you go go” - but more like “oh no not this song again.” Ugh, why did mom insist on waking him up to her random songs. He should have been mad, but there wasn’t time.

Todd jumped out of bed and ran down the hall towards the family room. His eyes looked ahead, bending around corners trying to see the tree and the gifts under them. He took two big steps and slid sideways into the living room… Today was Christmas!

Or, was it? There were no presents under the tree. He slid to a stop on the wood floor. His mom walked passed on her way to the kitchen, “Good morning, Todd. Merry Christmas Eve!”

“Wait! Mom, isn’t today Christmas?” He was confused. He shook his head to wake up, and then he remembered. Last night, he had dreamt about it being Christmas Eve. He dreamt he spent the whole day waiting for Christmas, and so when he woke up, it felt like Christmas. But it wasn’t Christmas. Today was Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow there would be presents under the tree. Tomorrow.

His head dropped and he turned and walked back to his room. He shuffled really. His feet dragging across the hard cold floor. He went back to his room and got dressed for the day. He put on a gray shirt and dark pants. This stunk.

At breakfast, he was mean to his sister. He took the last pancake even though he knew she hadn’t gotten one yet. Then his mom got mad and reminded him to be nice. That it was Christmas Eve she said. But all he could think was ‘you don’t get presents on Christmas Eve so who cares.’

Todd’s cousins came over at noon and they brought a bunch of toys that they had gotten that morning. Their parents didn’t live together, so they spent Christmas Eve with their mom and Christmas day with their dad. And so they got two sets of toys and two days of Christmas. It wasn’t fair. So Todd accidentally broke one of the new toys, but kind of on purpose, and then wouldn’t give it back but then his mom got angry and threatened to take away one of his presents and then she made him apologize. Hmmmph!

Todd spent the whole day being grumpy and not being nice. All he wanted was for it to be Christmas morning and open presents. So at 5pm he announced that he was going to bed. Just as everyone else was gathering in the living room to sing Christmas songs together. No Thank you!

Being mean all day had made him tired. He fell asleep as soon as he got into bed. “Tomorrow,” he thought. “Tomorrow is Christmas.” And he fell asleep.


At exactly 6:00am, Todd’s alarm clock went off. It began playing that random song his mom liked. The same one from yesterday. “Wake me up, before you…” OH NO NOT THIS SONG AGAIN!!! Why was this happening. Why would they play this song and ruin Christmas morning? Nope, can’t worry about that. No time.

Todd jumped out of bed and ran down the hall towards the family room. His eyes pleaded with the air as they looked around corners. Were there presents under the tree? Was today Christmas? IT HAD TO BE!

But it wasn’t. There were no presents under the tree. He kept sliding on the wood floor and smacked into the wall. His mom walked passed him on her way to the kitchen, “Careful honey. And merry Christmas Eve!”

“Mom! It’s Christmas. Today is Christmas. Right now. This is Christmas. Why aren’t there presents under the tree?”

“Huh? No honey. You’re confused. Today is Christmas Eve.”

Todd was confused. This was just like yesterday. But last night, he didn’t just dream about Christmas Eve, yesterday was Christmas Eve.

“Mom, remember, the cousins came over and Kale and Juniper brought their new remote control cars and I hid one and broke one and you got mad?” Todd looked at his mom. He didn’t like bringing up his previous crimes or reminding her how mad she was, but surely she wouldn’t have forgotten. Mom never forgot about that stuff.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Todd, but you better not break any of their toys when they come over. They’ll be here around noon. So please be nice to your cousins today. It is Christmas Eve, remember?” But it wasn’t, he thought to himself.

And she walked off. Todd didn’t know what to do. He got dressed and waited for his cousins to come over and bring their new toys. Soon enough, they did. They burst into the living room exactly like yesterday, yelling and making noise just like yesterday. Were all these people playing a joke? This had to be a joke. He went over to Kale and asked to borrow his toy. Surely they’d stop the game then. Surely Kale wouldn’t let this second toy get broken.

But Kale handed it right over. Todd looked at him. Looked at the toy. And broke it right in front of him. Kale flipped out. His mom flipped out. Todd’s mom flipped out. Todd was sent to his room and he just climbed straight into bed. He didn’t like this and he was going back to sleep. He didn’t even change out of his clothes and into his pajamas. And as soon as his got into bed, he fell asleep. Please. Please let this be the last time.


At exactly 6:00am, Todd’s alarm clock went off. It was playing that terrible song his mom liked. “Wake me up…” NO NO NO NO NO. This couldn’t be happening.

Todd jumped out of bed and ran down the hall towards the family room. His eyes were desperate as they looked around the corners trying to see if the tree had gifts under it. He ran right into the living room… Was today Christmas?

It wasn’t. There were no presents under the tree. He kept running and smashed right into the wall and fell back and bonked his head on the floor. OUCH. His mom walked passed him on her way to the kitchen, “Oh Todd, are you ok? Don’t get hurt on Christmas Eve! You’ll miss all the presents tomorrow.”

Todd slowly got up off the floor. He didn’t feel good. He walked back into his bedroom. He looked down. He was wearing his pajamas, the ones with white vans on them. The ones he’d had on every morning since it kept being the same morning. So he climbed right back into bed and fell right back asleep. This was not good.


And so it happened. At 6am, every day. His alarm went off and he heard the same song and he ate the same pancakes and played with his cousins cars and went to bed early. Sometimes he was grumpy and mean, and it never seemed to matter. No matter how much trouble he got in, every morning, he just kept waking up and it was always still Christmas Eve. There were never any presents under the tree. And so he just kept making it through the days until it was time to do it all over again.


At exactly 6:00am, Todd’s alarm clock went off. It began the song. There was now only one song. One song to wake him up. But he never seemed to go anywhere. He wasn’t mad. He hadn’t been mad for a long time. He got out of bed and got dressed. He yawned and stretched and combed his hair.

Todd walked slowly down the hall and into the living room. He didn’t even bother glancing at the tree. He knew there were no presents under it. “Good morning, mom. Merry Christmas Eve.”

“Oh! Well, good morning sunshine. Merry Christmas Eve to you. Wanna help me make pancakes?” Todd thought about it. Why not? He’d already spent this day being grumpy a hundred times. Might as well try something different.

In the kitchen he helped make an extra big batch of pancakes. Then he made sure his sister got even more than she wanted. He even helped his mom clean up the kitchen afterwards.

Soon, his cousins came over. They burst into the living room like they had been shot out of a cannon. They were holding their new remote control cars over their heads and screaming and laughing. And so Todd jumped in and started screaming and laughing with them. Later, they built a massive car track with a huge jump all made out of cardboard from Amazon Prime boxes. They each took turns and everyone had a lot of fun. It was actually awesome that they’d come over and brought their toys. They had known Todd wasn’t getting any toys until tomorrow so they had wanted to share theirs with him. That was actually really nice of them.

He kind of felt bad about breaking their toy all the different times he’d done it. But they never remembered. So he decided to make it up to them by not breaking their toys ever again.

Later, after dinner, everyone was getting ready to sing Christmas songs and Todd helped pick out songs and even taught everyone a dance for one of the songs. It was really fun and everyone was laughing and having a good time. Later Todd went and cuddled with his dad on the couch. Lying there, feeling sleepy, he felt like today was the best day he’d ever had. As he lay there, for the first time since this whole thing began, he thought it would be just fine to do all this over again tomorrow.

Todd fell asleep on the couch next to his dad and was carried to bed. Then his dad tucked him in under the covers and gave him a kiss on the forehead. The covers had little groundhogs on them and Todd burrowed under the sheets as his dad turned off the light. This was a good day.


At exactly 6:00am, Todd’s alarm clock went off. It began playing some random song his dad liked. “When you gonna wake up” by Bob Dylan. Wait wait wait. WHAT? This was a new song. He hadn’t heard a new song in the morning in over a hundred days. Something was different, and nothing was ever different any more.

Todd jumped out of bed and ran down the hall towards the family room. His eyes were afraid to look. Would there be presents under the tree? Was today Christmas?

IT WAS. There were presents under the tree. He stood on the wood floor staring into the living room. His mom walked up to him, grabbed him from behind and gave him a big hug, “Good morning, Todd. And merry Christmas! Last night was so much fun, thank you.” Todd spun around and hugged her back. Yesterday was a great day. She kissed him on the cheek and set him down.

Slowly, Todd turned around. There were presents under that tree. Some of those were for him. And he was very excited to meet them. Hmmm, maybe he’d even invite Kale and Juniper over to play with some of them. Man, what presents were under that tree? He couldn’t wait to find out. But first, they needed some pancakes. Then they’d have time for the presents. After breakfast.

And off Todd went to help his mom in the kitchen.


Discussion Points for Parents

How did Todd behave differently at the end of the story?

Why do you think he started being nice?

What did Todd discover when he engaged his family and quit worrying about presents?

Isn’t it funny how the only thing that changed during the day was how Todd responded to it, and yet it went from being one of the worst days ever to one of the best ever?

What do you think Todd got for presents?
(my kids really wanted to know what was under the tree, but I think it’s better for the kids to imagine what would be under the tree than choose for them.)

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