What came down the chimney? It wasn’t Santa!

I’ll set the scene: my mom, her boyfriend, my younger sister and I are chilly one winter day. I’m around 7 years old and think the best way to solve this problem is with a fire in the fire place. This is pretty common place during the winter months in my house, sitting in front of the fire to warm up on those cold nights. My mom’s boyfriend is opening up the flue and starts the fire. We hear a ruffling up the chimney. We think it’s strange but ignore it as a one-off. Then small things start falling into the fire. My mom jumps up and screams. She starts pulling out these pink, tiny, hairless creatures out of the fire.

We have baby squirrels! My sister and I could not be more excited. Baby animals are adorable to us at this age and the babies look like the naked mole rat from the show we watched. We start to name them based on their behavior. One is Sleepy, one is Crazy, another Jumpy. You can tell we were creative kids. But we were so happy to add more pets to our growing animal family.

We put the little squirrels into an old fish tank and put in some old blankets and milk for them. My mom, being the sensible woman she is, decided we could not keep wild animals, no matter how adorable they were, as pets. She did what any city dweller would do in an unwanted animal situation, she called the Humane Society. Now, in the past my mom has had a hard time with them, but we had baby squirrels and didn’t want to leave them outside to die. “They surely must be the experts,” she thought.

When she hung up the phone, she informed us of their plan. “They won’t be coming to get the squirrels,” she said, “they said to put them back up the chimney.” Dear reader, I know just reading that sentence sounds ridiculous as it was. Put live animals back up where they had come from? The Humane Society had informed my mother that the mother squirrel would come back to find her babies. They were right in a way.

Having really no other option than to listen to The Humane Society, Mom sticks them back up the chimney. It’s a quiet few months after the big event, we think the mommy squirrel has been reunited with her babies and they all lived happily ever after (hopefully not in our chimney – we still have the smoke damage).

Summer comes around, and we come back from a vacation at our cottage to discover that a bottle of wine had been knocked over in our absence. We think it was the lady who was minding the place while we were out of town and don’t give it a second thought. The same night we notice that my wooden dresser and bed are broken. But how?!

Later that night, my mom calls me downstairs to the living room. She shushes me and leads me over to the chair with a light on behind it. I slowly look behind the chair to discover two little furry bodies nestled together behind our chair. Crazy and Sleepy? Is that you?!

Their discovery also brings mama into the scene. Somehow, she followed her little munchkins down the chimney too. We are now official co-habitators with not baby, but wild squirrels! This leads to a long and drawn-out process of how to remove them from our basement as they are destroying everything. Who knew cute little squirrels were so destructive?

My mom decides to take the squirrels out by putting on gardening gloves, holding them by the tails and marching them out to the backyard. I sit and watch this scene in the same chair that we discovered the squirrels behind. I’m attempting to do math homework, but am distracted by the picture of my mother carrying squirrels by their tail while they try to reach up and bite her.

I realize at that moment, that even though they are the authorities, you may not want to heed their advice. Especially when you know it already sounds absurd. Because that’s when you end up with squirrels in your house and your mom trying to avoid rabies with gardening gloves.

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