Finally, the popping stopped. Unsure whether the danger was really past, I kept stabbing the chestnuts with the knife for a few more minutes, until I was sure every last one had a slit in it. Then I stopped to survey the damage. There were specks of yellow chestnut flesh everywhere - on all the cabinet doors, on the walls, on the floor, on the stove and refrigerator, and on the ceiling! With just an hour until guests would arrive, I tried not to panic and quickly began the clean-up process. After scrubbing the whole kitchen and cleaning the inside of the oven, I quickly took a shower and changed my clothes just as the appointed time for the party arrived, so that I could greet my guests at the door with a calm and welcoming smile.
Needless to say, we didn't serve chestnuts at the party. And nobody would have known what had happened, except that it was such a great story I just had to tell everyone about it! And I was sure to point out the tiny yellow spots on the ceiling, the only evidence that remained - a silent testimony to my foolishness.
So if you get cravings for "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" (or in an enclosed oven) during this holiday, please don't make the same mistake I did. Be sure to poke a hole in them FIRST before roasting or baking to avoid exploding chestnusts in your kitchen!