I use the .ssi extension for my includes, to differentiate the files on my server from pages. Early on I learned that my included file couldn't call another include. For example, if the "sidebar.ssi" code was:
The lamb lies down on Broadway.
then my page would show "The lamb..." sentence, but it would end there. It wouldn't pull in the secondInclude.
For years I thought that was a limitation of SSI, but it's not. The reason the second .ssi wasn't included is that the server didn't know to look for it, because I never told it to scan .ssi files for includes! All I had to do was add that to my .htaccess file:
AddHandler server-parsed .html .ssi
And Ta-Da! Now includes can call other includes.
I hope this helps somebody.
By the way, when searching around about SSI extensions, I found this article on SSI extensions for refugees
[nilc.org], which wasn't exactly what I was looking for.