I woke up with a start. I had been having a perfectly pleasant dream about sugar plums or something when a strange noise had woken me up. It wasn’t a “thump” or a “creak” or any of those other scary noises hat my dad always says are “just the house settling” (whatever that means). No, it sounded like…a voice?
I sat up in bed a few minutes, listening. The sound was far away from my bedroom on the second floor of our house, but it was sort of familiar. Like the sound my dad makes when he’s working in the garage. Sort of grunting and groaning. It made me think that someone was struggling with something. But who?
That’s when it hit me! I remembered what day it was. In all the excitement, I had completely forgotten what night this was: Christmas Eve!
I jumped out of bed and threw on my robe and slippers because now I knew exactly who was making those sounds. I ran downstairs and only had to go back twice when my slipper came off. I went to the fireplace. The plate with the milk and cookies was still sitting on the mantle and the stockings were empty. The Christmas tree lights were unplugged, so I plugged them in to light up the room. I looked at the fireplace. This was where the noises were coming from. I heard them, still muffled, but louder than they had been upstairs, and saw little flecks of soot falling down from the flue.
“Santa?” I said.
The voice in the fireplace stopped grunting. “Is…is someone there?” it said.
“Yes, it’s me, Santa. Are you okay?”
“Oh, yes! Fine. Just fine. Only…well, frankly I think I’m stuck.”
“Stuck? In the chimney?” I was surprised to hear this since Santa was sort of an expert at coming down chimneys. It’s always surprising when a pro makes a mistake like this.
“Yeah, I’m afraid so. And I’ve still got a lot of stops to make tonight. If I don’t get out of here, it will spoil Christmas for lots of little kids!”
“And we won’t be able to light a fire.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Do you have a long stick or something?”
“No…but my sister does! She plays hockey!”
“Oh! That should work. Can you go get her hockey stick?”
“I’ll try. Wait here.”
“I’m not exactly going anywhere, am I?”
I ran back upstairs, but when I got to my sister’s door I froze. My big sister could get sort of cranky. She hated it when I went into her room and she hated to be woken up. I knew I had to be quick to help Santa, but I also had to be quiet.
I turned the knob very slowly and pushed the door open carefully. It squeaked, but my sister didn’t wake up. I tiptoed across the floor and stepped on a spot that creaked. But still, she didn’t wake up. I went to her closet, where I knew she kept her hockey stick, and opened it, very carefully. I couldn’t see anything in the dark. I thought about getting a flashlight, but I thought the light might wake her up, so I just felt around in the dark. Finally, my hand closed around something long, flat and wooden. The hockey stick! Without thinking, I pulled it out…and knocked her jewelry box off of her dresser. It hit the ground with a crash and a second later the light was on and my sister was glaring at me.
“What are you doing in my room?”
“I’m really sorry!” I said. “I needed your hockey stick!”
“At midnight? What in the world did you need my hockey stick for at midnight?!?”
I told her. She didn’t believe me. So, I had to show her.
“Santa?” I said when we got downstairs.
“Oh, good,” said Santa. “You’re back. Do you have the hockey stick?”
“Yes, it’s right here. And my sister is here, too.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Santa. “Are you going to help me get out of here?”
Well, of course, nobody could refuse to help Santa, no matter how cranky they are. So my sister took the hockey stick and I got a flashlight from the kitchen. I laid down on the hearth and shone the light up into the chimney. My sister then slid the hockey stick up one side of the chimney, sort of wedging it in between the chimney and Santa. We both got covered in soot, of course, but there was no helping that.
“If I can get it high enough,” my sister said, “we can use it like a shoehorn and get you out of here.”
“How you doing, Santa?” I asked.
“I think that should do it,” said my sister, and I got up and held the other end of the stick with her. “On three. One…two…three!”
We titled the stick away from the wall of the chimney, just like it really was a big shoehorn. And a moment later, with a loud pop and a louder thud, Santa appeared in the fireplace.
“We did it!” I cried. “We did it! We…oh!”
Because now my sister was holding up the hockey stick. On the end of it was something large, red and made of cloth. It only took us a moment to figure it out. When we had wedged Santa out of the chimney, somehow the stick had gotten caught on his pants and they’d come off!
Santa got up and stood in the room with us. He still had his red, pointed hat, his red coat and mittens, even his big black boots had stayed on. But he wasn’t wearing any pants!
“I am so sorry, Santa!” said my sister, handing Santa his pants.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Santa, putting on his pants again. “You got me out of there. That’s what matters. Thank you both so much for your help. There’ll be a little something extra in your stockings to show my appreciation.”
“Thank you, Santa,” we both said at the same time.
“That’s all right. Now, I think you two had better go back to bed. No, no! Rules are rules. You must be in bed when I go to work. Good night and merry Christmas.”
We said good night and merry Christmas to Santa and we both went to bed.
The next morning, there were lots of great presents for us and our stockings were so full they almost tore apart. But my sister and I had another reason for being especially happy about that Christmas. Every kid in the world knows that Santa wears a red suit with white trim and a red hat with a white puff at the end and black boots and mittens...
But my sister and I were the only kids in the world who knew that Santa also wears red boxer shorts.