Narrative Poetry: The Sixth Annual Psychotic Christmas Purge

Welcome to the Spot Writers! This month’s prompt is to write about a memorable gift. This week’s prompt comes to us from Val Muller, whose family always manages to align “spring cleaning” with the weeks leading up to Christmas (and its guests). She is currently working on the fourth installment of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series in between vacuuming and teaching. You can keep up at

Sorry I’m posting this late–it’s been a week! My new year’s resolution is to post more regularly here, so be on the lookout for more book reviews and flash fiction 🙂

The Sixth Annual Psychotic Christmas Purge

By Val Muller


In the weeks before Christmas,

Mom crept through the rooms.

“Do we really still need this?”

She asked into the Doom.

She took it and tossed it

Before we could answer

With the speed of Santa

Pulled by Dasher and Dancer.


Alarmed, we looked ‘round

And stowed all our favorite toys:

My dolls and his trucks

And our big carton of slime.

“This place must be clean

Before we put the tree up,”

Mom said as we sunk

Into our cold, winter rut.


The place looked horrendous,

As if hit by tornado:

Toys scattered with shoes,

Socks crusted with Play-dough.

Dolls lying around

As if killed in a war,

With markers and beads

Littering the floor.


“Turn off that tablet.

Let’s clean off the floor.”

We sighed, ‘cause when we finished,

There would always be more.

“Those papers need shredding,

The fridge needs cleaned out,

The mantle is dusty—

Now, don’t scream and pout.”


As Christmas grew closer,

The house still a mess,

Mom stepped up her efforts.

Like a witch with a hex,

She waved her hand over tables,

And clutter disappeared.

A dozen trash bags grew fuller;

Our souls filled with fear.


I kicked off my slippers

One mistaken night;

Then Mom’s eyes grew wide,

Then mine filled with fright.

Shaking, I took the slippers

From off of the floor

And hoped the Great Purge

Wouldn’t last that much more.


Then still we just sat there

On the soft sofa, cozy.

Mom’s muscles grew larger,

Her cheeks grew quite rosy.

“We’re not putting the tree up

Until this room is spotless.”

And then brother said

Something quite thoughtless:


“I like having toys

All over the floor:

The couch is a bridge,

And there at the door,

Is an imaginary highway

That goes down the stairs,

Which is why I leave

All my trucks over there.”


Mom sat down, quite tired,

So I thought we might win,

And I opened my mouth

And spoke into the din:

“And my dolls like the table;

It’s their school and their town,

And the dining room chairs

Are their homes, all around.”


We thought we had won:

Mom just sat there and sighed.

But then she spoke,

Her eyes glossy and wide.

She told us a tale

Of a beast huge and scary,

A monster named Krampus,

Enormous and hairy:


“He takes naughty children

From out of their homes,

And whips them with rods—”

A chill ran deep through our bones.

“Not even Santa

Can save you from him.

He’s got a wicker basket

And a sinister grin.”


We looked over at dad,

Who was reading the paper.

“Kids, do what your mom says,”

He muttered—the traitor.

“And don’t you think Krampus

Will spare you, my dear,”

Mom said to dad,

Whose eyes filled with fear.


“Your papers are clutter.

This one’s from October!

I’m recycling it now.”

Dad’s eyes grew wide and sober.

He stood like a robot

And started to clean,

And so did me and brother,

Like golems in a dream.


As we cleaned all that night,

Mom looked much like Santa;

A sack on her back,

She repeated this mantra:

“Declutter, declutter,

Then vacuum and dust.

If you haven’t used it in months,

Tossing it out is a must.”


Yes, like deranged Santa,

She filled so many sacks,

And she filled up both trash cans

With her decluttering pact.

Dad looked alarmed.

We had run out of trash bags,

So she put stuff in boxes—

Our mom who’d turned mad.


We cleaned for forever,

Until our feet ached and bled.

Every muscle sore,

We three begged for bed.

And we slept quite soundly

To the vacuum’s soft whir.

Our day of cleaning

Was a nightmarish blur.


Krampus did find me,

But only in dreams.

I woke quite early

To my horrified scream.

Had I really cleaned

The evening before?

Would I ever recover

From that scarring chore?


But now Mom was sleeping.

The house was quiet and dark.

I could get up and play.

My eyes lit with a spark.

I took a box of dolls

And skipped down the stairs

When a wonderful sight

Caught me unaware:


The room was quite spotless,

No clutter to be seen,

And the tree in the corner

Looked just like a dream.

It sparkled and glowed,

Put there by an elf—

Or a mom on a cleaning rage

Who couldn’t help herself?


I hurried up the stairs

To my sleeping brother’s room.

I stowed my dolls away,

And then quite soon,

We crept down the stairs

To the ornament box,

And we decorated the tree

With garland and the lot.


“It’s really quite nice

To have such a clean room,”

My brother whispered to me.

And then, soon,

Dad came down the stairs,

And his eyes opened wide.

“It looks so nice.

Mom is amazing,”

He practically cried.


Then we put on our boots

And our thick winter coats,

And we got in the car

And headed right out.

“To the store,” Dad commanded,

“To get more trash bags,

And to get Mom some breakfast

To make her feel glad.”


When we got home,

Mom had awoken.

We gave her the breakfast

Without a word spoken.

She ate and she smiled

And looked at the clean room

As we imagined the toys

That’d be filling it soon.


“We do this each Christmas,”

She said after a while.

“Let’s just keep the house neat

So it’ll be easier.” She smiled.

We nodded our heads,

Though we knew we were lying:

By January first,

We wouldn’t even be trying.


But for now, that very morning,

We enjoyed the nice gift

Of a clean living room

And pre-Christmas bliss:

A happy Mom and some trash bags,

A breakfast sandwich and a tree,

And a calm weekend morning

For my brother and me.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller:

Catherine A. MacKenzie:

Phil Yeats:

Chiara De Giorgi:

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