Dad’s Christmas drill

My dad didn’t bring home a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree.” He brought home three Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
It was always on Christmas Eve. The reason for this I did not grasp until I was a grown man. That’s when I realized we grew up a lot poorer than I thought. Actually, when we were young, my brothers and sisters and I thought we had it made. At Christmas there was always plenty of good food and plenty of presents and a finely decorated tree. How my parents did it, I have no idea. But one of the ways is evident in Dad’s Christmas tree tradition.
He went Christmas tree shopping on Christmas Eve because he knew that was a day he could drive a hard bargain. By then, of course, the only trees left on the Christmas tree lots around town were the scraggly ones nobody wanted.
Trees may have sold for only two or three dollars each back then but even that was too rich for dad’s wallet. On Christmas Eve, he’d grab three of the trees left behind by everyone else and offer the guy a buck for all three. He was never turned down.
Then he’d bring them home and with a drill and some glue combine all three pitiful trees into one marvelous one. It must have been a painstaking task, especially since Dad’s only drill was a hand operated one, but Mom said Dad never complained. On the contrary, he actually appeared to enjoy it.
That someone always seemed to drop off a gallon of homemade wine helped, Mom said.
I told this story to my newspaper colleague Jack Smiles one time and he said, “Oh, your Dad was a driller and filler.”
I didn’t know if that was an actual term for guys like my Dad or if Jack made it up on the spot, but I liked it.
As a kid I always felt my Dad could fix anything. His “drilling and filling” attitude applied to more than Christmas trees.

Ed Ackerman