Christmas tales penned by children at the Sick Kids hospital

Linda Cracknell, writer-in-residence at the Sick Kids. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Linda Cracknell, writer-in-residence at the Sick Kids. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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NOTHING beats a good festive story to get you in the mood the night before Christmas. Or a good Christmas poem, for that matter.

Today, we bring you one of each – penned by young patients at the Sick Kids hospital along with resident writer Linda Cracknell.

Linda joined forces with patients Grace Geraghty and Hannah and Noah Duncan to write When The Elves Ran Riot and The Three Camels.

Linda was appointed writer-in-residence – a part-time position – at the Sick Kids in June 2012 and has since worked with hundreds of patients.

As part of her role, she runs creative writing and poetry sessions for patients, staff and parents, as well as writing for and about the hospital with a view to retaining some of the character of – and affection for – the current building when it moves to a new site in a few years.

As well as one-to-one writing and poetry sessions, Linda, who is a writer by trade, offers workshops for small groups in the hospital library every fortnight, with patients referred to the workshops and sessions by the hospital’s play specialists, who believe the selected children would benefit from taking part.

Enjoy . . .

When the Elves Ran Riot

Did you get presents last Christmas?

If so, you don’t know how lucky you were.

At the 11th hour on Christmas Eve Eddie and Evie, Santa’s lead elves, decided they were going to make Christmas different. The elves thought it had got a bit boring. They chose one place to experiment on. And guess where? Yes, Edinburgh. They thought a wee change would make Santa laugh and give him a bit less work to do.

Eddie and Evie set off from Santa’s grotto leading a shower of playful elves across the night sky. First they went to The Mound and turned the Christmas tree upside down, planting its point in the snow. Then they switched off all the lights on the Castle and along Princes Street. They made the big wheel turn so slowly that all the people on it fell asleep and snored, drowning out the festive music.

The elves ran riot through the town

Turning Christmas upside down.

Outside the Dome on George Street, they tweaked the sprinklers so that instead of fake snow, the posh ladies got sprinkled with custard. The elves laughed like squealing monkeys and the noise brought all the town’s robins flying in to see what was going on. The elves took the opportunity to paint their red breasts brown.

Then they scuttered down the chimneys of Edinburgh’s homes like spiders. They ate all the chocolate decorations on the trees, replacing them with mouldy cheese. They took down stockings from the fireplaces and jumped into them, pulling them up to their chins. They moved holly onto the seats of sofas and armchairs. Just for a laugh.

The elves ran riot through the town

Turning Christmas upside down.

Like a swarm of bats, they swooped back up the chimneys, carrying away all the jellybeans that had been left for them. When they got back to Santa’s grotto, they fed the jellybeans to the reindeers which made them sick. This year the reindeers would have to be pulled by the sledges, and not the other way round.

The elves ran riot through the town

Turning Christmas upside down.

Then they flew up to the cloud and downloaded all the presents stored there for Edinburgh’s children. This year they would give them to Santa instead. They piled them around him in a mountain the size of Ben Nevis so that only his nostrils, eyes, and hat could be seen. Eddie and Evie were so pleased with their work, they did a little dance.

But then, they noticed Santa’s eyes.

The elves ran riot through the town

Making Santa wear a frown.

The wind whisked up then, so warm with fury it melted all the snow. And Eddie and Evie realised their mistake. Santa didn’t want presents himself. He liked Christmas how it was. Oh dear.

It was one minute to midnight. There was so much work to do in such a short time that they had to call the leprechauns from Ireland and the pixies from Peterhead as reinforcements. They swarmed around Edinburgh, putting Christmas trees back the right way up, turning fairy lights on, and replacing stockings and chocolates.

The elves ran riot through the town

Turning Christmas right back round.

What a relief when they saw Santa start to laugh again and fill up his sack with presents. The sky was so happy that it flared up its northern lights into luminous pinks and greens, swaying above the Pentlands. Even the reindeers perked up, looking forward to a glorious flight.

The elves ran riot through the town

Turning Christmas right back round.

And so you got your presents. Remember?

• Written by patient Grace Geraghty with Linda Cracknell, writer-in-residence at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Christmas 2014.

The Three Camels

We are three camels,

one-humped animals,

looking after three wise chaps

who didn’t even bring a map.

They’ve got frankincense

but no common sense.

They’ve got myrrh and gold

but we’re getting cold.

We’re wandering, wondering where we are

and why they didn’t come by car.

Is it very far?

We are three camels,

we’re two-toed mammals.

We’ve got as far as Princes Street

with nothing on our twelve cold feet.

A star has spoken

and the sat nav’s broken.

Summoned by a prophecy

on our Scottish odyssey,

people are staring,

music’s blaring.

Are we nearly there?

We are three camels

we like singing carols.

My name’s Caspar

I’ll be on X Factor.

I’m Balthasar

I first saw the star.

And she’s heading for the bumpers

in her Primark Christmas jumper.

Wow, Christmas lights

A big wheel, wooo,

hold on tight!

We are three camels

we’re one-humped animals.

Looking at the star

we’ve followed so far,

my wise man says ‘it’s astrological’

and points towards a distant hospital.

We get a fright

at the traffic lights,

cross The Meadows

next to girls in stilettos.

Camels aren’t common place

on Melville Drive and Sylvan Place.

And then us desert ships

sail to the door of the Sick Kids.

Are we nearly there?

• By Hannah and Noah Duncan with Linda Cracknell, writer-in-residence at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Christmas 2013