America is in the midst of the Depression, and the Kamp family is struggling to get by, especially after Mrs. Kamp’s untimely death. Now little Ruthie, with her mother gone and her father overwhelmed by doctor bills resulting from her brother’s polio, expects another Christmas without presents or festivities. But when her father brings home one dollar in change and lets the children use it to buy special gifts for each other, the Kamps come to find that money isn’t what fills Christmas with joy, love, and miracles.
Even with Christmas around the corner, for the Buckley boys, payback almost always wins out over brotherly love. That is until the four brothers join forces against a common adversary–the Hagbarts, the meanest bullies at their middle school. But now Mom has decided that the Buckley family is going to Elve the Hagbarts this year for Christmas. Eleven-year-old Matthew can hardly stand it. By day the Hagbarts torture the Buckley brothers into submission, and by night the Buckleys secretly deliver Christmas treats and gifts to their sworn enemies. Soon the war of wits escalates to an incredible scheme designed to get the ultimate revenge on the Hagbarts. But now that Matthew has been learning that he’s supposed to be good to those who hate him, what will he do when a little push becomes a great big shove?