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Story listed as: True Life For Adults | Theme: Inspirational | Subject: Seasonal / Holidays | Published here : 11/11/2010
The Year that Santa's Bag was Stuck in the Chimney 
By Arlene Hartzell
Born 1939, F, from Westlake, Oregon, United States
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The Year that Santa's Bag was Stuck in the Chimney
By A.A. Hartzell

Nora Lynn’s home was aglow with Christmas love. Christmas tree lights danced to the tune of “Jingle Bells” and candles flickering on the hearth kept time. The wood crackling in the fireplace snapped and popped “happy times, happy times.” The three Harrison sisters placed cookies and mugs of hot-spiced cider on the table.

“Nora Lynn, do you remember Christmas Eve fifty years ago when Santa Claus’s bag got stuck in our chimney?”
Maryann laughed softly, “Things could not have been worse for us that year. Mom sick in bed, Dad back in Kansas, Daniel heartsick for lying in his first grade class. Then we found Santa Claus’s bag stuck in the chimney.”
At that moment, Daniel walked in and continued in the reminiscing, “I heard a muffled sound from inside the chimney.” Daniel reached inside his pocket pulling something out.
The three sisters came closer to see what the object was...

Meredith spoke first, “I can’t believe you kept it all these years.”
Daniel held the object up. It was a small pocketknife with Popeye’s picture imprinted on it...

It was Christmas Eve, 1940, in Florence, Oregon. Relentless rain and sand pelted the two-story house on Kingwood Street. The four Harrison children stood by the Christmas tree.
Ten-year-old Nora Lynn said, “I wish we had colored electric lights for our tree.”
Instead, their decorations consisted of strung popcorn, paper chains, and four broken sand dollars.
Daniel said, “I like our tree! It’s tall. Look how the top has to bend over.” At that point Daniel jumped as high as he could, touching one of the tree’s limbs. The tree rocked on its homemade wooden stand. Needles fell. Not one gift was beneath it.

The children slept in the attic; three little girls in one bed and Daniel the youngest on a tiny cot by the chimney. Daniel talked about finding presents under the tree in the morning. And during the night little Daniel awoke hearing a muffled noise inside the chimney. Smiling to himself, he said, “Santa...”
The four children woke early. Forty bare toes ran down the twelve bare wooden steps. There stood the Christmas tree, exactly the same as the night before. Not one gift was under the tree. Santa Claus hadn’t come. The tree drooped sadly. Four pairs of children’s eyes were weeping.

It was the first day of school after Christmas vacation. “Good morning class,” said Miss Haig. It was a wonderful Christmas vacation, but its good to be back teaching. Now, I want to know what each of you got for Christmas! Lonnie, please start.” The children all recited their gifts... wagons, dolls, games, and bikes. Now it was Daniel’s turn.

“Daniel what did you get for Christmas?”
“I got a Popeye pocket knife, a cowboy suit, a new pair of shoes, and a lunch bucket with a thermos bottle in it.”

During recess Miss Haig sat at her desk thinking about Daniel. Daniel, the brightest in her class, was also the poorest. A small, sickly child plagued with asthma. His coat was thin, and his shoes were full of holes. A slice of bread with margarine was all that his lunch consisted of. Daniel’s father had a crab stand down on the docks and Daniel’s lunches were in white sacks, saying “Harrison’s Crabs” on top of an orange crab. Daniel, embarrassed, tried to hide his sack. The class bully, Frank Jackson, would tease Daniel saying, “you got crabs in there baby Danny fanny?”
Miss Haig went outside and called in Bobby Rose, Daniel’s best friend.
Bobby ran in red-cheeked and worried. “I never pushed Emma down Miss Haig, I swear! She just slipped on her own.”
“Bobby that’s not why I called you in, I have some questions to ask.”
“Yes,” Miss Haig.
“Did you play with Daniel on Christmas day?”
“No,” said Bobby.
“Why not,” asked Miss Haig?

“Nobody got presents, and their eyes were all red like they’d been crying a lot. Nobody would come out all day.”

The next evening, there was a knock at the door. From the bedroom Mrs. Harrison hollered, “Can one of you get the door?”
Daniel was the first to reach the door.
“Hello Daniel,” said Miss Haig. The four children’s mouths were ajar.
“Daniel, please introduce me to your sisters.”
“Miss Haig, Nora Lynn, Maryanne, and Meredith.” Shyly the girls said, “Hello.”
“I’m glad the four of you are here, because I have wonderful news!” Miss Haig pulled an envelope out of her purse.
“Can you see the return address?
“It’s from the North Pole!”
“Yes,” Miss Haig went on, “It’s from ‘Mr. I. Am. A. Busy Elf,’ saying Santa’s been worried about the delivery he made to you. He isn’t sure his bag of toys went all the way down the chimney. Mr. Elf knew I was the logical one to take care of this.” By now the children were wide-eyed and looking at the fireplace. “Don’t you think one of you should take a look up the chimney?”
Before Miss Haig could complete her sentence the four Harrison children were half inside the fireplace!
Daniel said, “It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!” Pulling it out in a cloud of soot, the four children fell backwards, laughing, a large burlap bag on top of them.

Miss Haig said, “Let me get your mother.”
They returned, Mrs. Harrison on her arm. There were deep, dark circles under Mrs. Harrison’s eyes.
Smiling, Mrs. Harrison said, “Go ahead now and open Santa’s bag.”
There were dolls, games, and warm clothing for the girls, and for Daniel, there was a Popeye pocketknife, new shoes, and best of all a “Hop-a-Long Cassidy” lunch bucket with thermos.
Daniel, opening the Popeye pocketknife said, “Remember when I heard that noise in the chimney? I bet that was when old Santa’s bag got stuck!” Everyone agreed.
Miss Haig caught Mrs. Harrison’s eye and winked. Mrs. Harrison winked back.

The End.
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