By the time many of you read this, the fat man will have squeezed down the chimney, tended to his annual work, eaten your cookies and milk (or Coca-Cola, if you’re generous) and headed on back to the North Pole to make sure his workshop is OSHA compliant.

The kids are playing video games or checking out that new dollhouse or winging soccer balls around inside the house. There’s enough wrapping and tissue paper strewn about on the floor to fill a small county landfill. “A Christmas Story” is playing on a loop in the background, and you’re occasionally playing along with some of your favorite lines. (“Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”)

Merry Christmas, everybody.

While I’m under no delusions that reading a newspaper column is high on your list of priorities this morning, I figured you might need a break sometime between fishing that new remote controlled airplane out of a tree and having your kid explain to you, once and for all, just what in the hell a Hatchimal is. So here we are.

Those who read this column with any regularity (all seven of you) know that we occasionally do a grab-bag of a few different topics, which I thought would be a good idea for today. However, being Christmas, I thought we’d call it a “stocking” instead of a grab-bag. So let’s see what’s in the stocking.

GFD looks out for dogs, too

As you may have seen in the Index-Journal, the Greenwood Fire Department responded late last week to a pretty serious fire on Trakas Avenue. You never want to see that kind of story, especially at the holidays. However, the outcome of this particular fire could have been much worse.

While there was heavy fire damage to the home’s kitchen, with smoke, heat and water damage through much of the rest of the house, the people who were in the home at the time were able to get out safely, and the fire department was able to rescue two dogs from the residence.

We all know the risks firefighters take to help save people. But, as the incident on Trakas Avenue showed, they look out for our four-legged family members, too. Index reporter Damian Dominguez captured a photo of a firefighter carrying a dog out of the house on Trakas, which served as a touching reminder of the work firefighters do in our community.

Good work, GFD. Or as executive editor Richard Whiting might say on the Index opinion page, thumb’s up.

McMillan makes a move

I was heartened, but not surprised, to learn last week that Lucas McMillan has been named the dean of Lander University’s new College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Before being named to his new role, McMillan had most recently been the chairman of the school’s political and social sciences department.

For many years, McMillan was a neighbor of mine in the Old Greenwood Village. But his deep political science experience has also made him a newspaper source for me on occasion.

More than a year ago, I called on McMillan for a story I was working on for Columbia’s Free Times. It was about what was, at the time, the wildcard presidential candidacy of one Donald J. Trump. In a nonpartisan manner, McMillan walked me through the ways in which Trump was connecting with the electorate. It was prescient stuff, and much of it remained true during the subsequent year as the real estate tycoon made his march to the White House.

McMillan is an astute political scientist, and a warm, funny, decent guy. He’ll serve Lander well in his new role.

Nickles grows his legacy

It’s time to tell it like it is: Jamie Nickles is the best football coach in the history of Abbeville High School. It’s kind of hard to even argue about it at this point. The proof is in the trophy case.

Just more than a week ago, my beloved Panthers took down their old rival Batesburg-Leesville 44-21 in the Class AA state championship game at Benedict College. It was Abbeville’s eighth football state championship dating back to 1971, and the fourth title for Nickles.

I was fortunate enough to attend the recent title game against B-L, and after the game, many Abbeville fans were milling around near the fieldhouse behind the west endzone, celebrating and waiting on the team to come out. I bumped into an old friend and former Panther, Venture Belton, and commented to him that it was a big win for Nickles. Belton agreed.

“He’s going to get some respect someday,” Belton said.

Well, that day is today. The storied Abbeville program has captured eight state crowns, and Nickles has been at the helm for half of them.

Nickles has now fully emerged from the shadow of his predecessor, the late, great Dennis Botts, and is amassing a coaching legacy all his own.

Chris Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter@ChrisTrainorSC.Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.