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Santa is always messy when he comes to my parent's house. The grate in the fireplace gets knocked over, the decorative logs on the hearth are all spilled. Apparently the snack we leave for him isn't enough, so Santa has to meander over into the kitchen to have his fill. He invariably knock over dining room chairs and leaves a trail of paper towels, crumbs, etc as he goes. Mandarin orange wrappers are everywhere. This hasn't changed as my brother and sister and I have gotten older and moved out. Santa still comes. Santa still leaves a mess.
One year, when I was maybe eight or nine, Santa was particularly messy. So messy, in fact, that he got a few gifts stuck in the chimney.
Stockings were opened, all the gifts were unwrapped, and we were enjoying mom's candy cane loaf (bread stuffed with nuts and dried fruit that was shaped like a candy cane) for breakfast. All of a sudden, Dad's ears perked up: "Did you hear that? What was that sound? ... I think it was coming from the chimney!" He went to check it out, and came back amazed. "Santa got something stuck in the chimney. I'm going to go downstairs and get some tools to try to get it out. You stay here."
We were so excited! We stayed in the kitchen, which was - conveniently - around the corner from the living room, while dad went downstairs and got his tools. When he returned, the banging and clanging of a man trying to dislodge another one of Santa's treasures made us so excited we could hardly breathe. After what seemed like forever, we were allowed to round the corner and see what had been stuck. There in the middle of the living room was a brand new tricycle for my brother, who was maybe three at the time. We stood in amazement (all except my brother, who was already riding the trike around the living room.
"Now hang on a second, while I was getting this out, I think I saw something else up there, too. You go finish your breakfast, I'm going to go down and get some more tools." We tried to sneak a peek up the chimney before mom shooed us back into the kitchen, but alas! It was far too dark to see anything. More clanging, more banging, and when we got called back, there was another bike, this time for my sister!
Once more, dad saw something ELSE up the chimney. Once more he went to get just a few more tools. I of course knew what was up there this time around, but that didn't stop me from practically jumping up and down in the kitchen the entire time dad was trying to extract the gift.
Miraculously, dad had managed to dislodge three bicycles from our chimney that year. I loved that bike so much, partly because it was a beautiful pink Strawberry Shortcake bike with a banana seat, but partly because it was the gift we almost didn't get because Santa just didn't take the time to be neat and tidy!
I only have a fuzzy memory of that bike today, but I sure am grateful for a daddy who knew so much about getting bicycles out of chimneys!