Daddy Frank

I always loved the Merle Haggard song Daddy Frank; for me, it struck a balance between tragic and funny, my Dad's name happened to be Frank and it drove my mother half crazy when I'd sing along at top volume.

Although Dad wasn't blind like the Daddy Frank in the song, this might have been called into question if you ever caught sight of some of the hand cut Christmas trees he dragged out of the woods and into our childhoods.

It seemed like he'd be gone most of the day, trudging through the snow sometimes with one or two of us boys but always with the determination he was going to bring home a Christmas tree we could be proud of. He'd scout out wonderfully tall and noble fir trees, size them up carefully, choose one and fell it with confidence.

Once it was down where he could look at it, he'd hack some more off, proclaim that you couldn't find a nicer tree than that anywhere and the long walk home could begin. Up the tree would go against the outside of the house to allow it to release whatever it had picked up on the slide home and then Mom would poke her head out -- Oh Frank, are you blind? This is terrible. What? There's not a thing wrong with that tree at all! (at all would be run together and sound more like a-tall). How could you be gone that long and come home with this? Was it the only tree you could find? We'd all take sides on the debate as the tree got smooshed (technical term) through the door and up the stairs.

If he'd been there one year, Charlie Brown would have said oh shit and walked away. Even Dad knew he was going to have to put a plan into motion to hide the fact that the tree he'd brought home was practically see through for a lack of branches. He began boring holes in the trunk with his trusty hand drill and then whittled the ends from some of the cast off lower branches and planted them into the holes to fill in the many spaces.

From there, twine was wound round and round the branches and trunk until these new hires had no choice but to stay put. Even my mother had to admit, he'd made it look almost like it had grown that way by the end of it.

A few more yards of string and some nails and it was secured to the wall and we were in business. He was quite proud of his handiwork and once the angel was on top of the tree and lit, not much else mattered. The decorations and too many icicles went on and we all marvelled.


Mob said...

That story is awesome, from the image of a Peanuts character cursing, to your father rebuilding a tree out of remnants and scraps.

Bonus points for name-checking Merle Haggard, as well.

Creepy said...

No disprespect to anyone, but Dad was a "man." 'The Duke' (John Wayne) would be proud, even if he wasn't an American. It isn't a real Christmas tree unless a nesting animal flees your living room.

Melinda June said...

This is the best Christmas tree story ever. I love this. That might be the most ingeneous project I've ever heard of. Allow me to laud your fabulousness.

Coaster Punchman said...

But didn't you boys assist in the selection of the tree and therefore share in the "blame?" Great story. Love the part with the ropes and nails to get it to stand up. Reminds me of our annual tradition of putting up the tree, getting it fully decorated and then having it topple over when the cats climbed up it. We would likewise finally resort to nails and wire.

Anonymous said...

Poor little Christmas tree, that's why fake is the way to go...and I love Creepy's tru dat re the nesting animal!!! LOVE IT!!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a trooper! We always end up with Charlie Brown trees as well, except we pick ours from a lot, so have no convenient excuses, like the drag through the woods made it ragged.

I've actually grown quite fond of of the ugliest tree on the block look that I go for every year.

Anonymous said...

Oh God! I can't stop laughing! Drilling holes, I love it!

Anonymous said...

My Dad's name is Frank too. *makes a note to send brother Dale a Christmas card from his American sister*

If your mother's name is Joan, well, I'm just gonna shit!

Joe said...

"A few more yards of string and some nails and it was secured to the wall and we were in business."

Did he secure it to the same spot on the wall every year, or move it around to reduce stress on any one spot?

That was a cool story.

Anonymous said...

Ingenious move by your father boring holes in the trunk and then planting remnant branches! He was quite inventive!

Great story Dale. Made me laugh out loud and scare my cats. :)

Anonymous said...

My favorite Merle Haggard song is a Christmas song-- "If We Make It Through December."

That story is nearly as beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful as the one about being sent to live with the other family when you were young.

Dale said...

Hey Mob, thanks for the nice comments. I bought Merle's 40 #1 Hits cd for Daddy Frank last birthday and he loved it.

My dad still comes up with his own fixes Creepy and there's nothing wrong with that. Speaking of nesting animals, although I have a story sort of like that, I'd suggest checking Melinda June's. She linked to a doozy.

It's all Daddy Frank's doing MJ. We still laugh about it. He was a man with a plan.

We were too young and therefore not culpable CP. I wonder why my dad never got a cat so we could blame it?! Oh yeah, Maw Kettle was allergic.

Check Melinda June's for a horrifying story on nesting animal. Creepy's always got good true dats.

Ugly trees are people too Barbara B!

My aim is true then Old Lady. We laugh about it still.

You're good for now Bluez. I won't say what it is right now but it's not Joan.

It had to get moved around a bit Bubs, you're right.

As long as they didn't run up your tree Zed!

It's a great song Johnny Yen. Thanks for the great comments.

Anonymous said...

I love clever home fix-its. That's truly ingenious. You have some sweet Christmas memories.

Anonymous said...

I think your dad was doing nature a good deed by picking unfortunate trees that would die on their own before too long, instead of getting great big healthy trees that could produce lots of pine cones and reseed entire forests throughout a long lifetime--provided, of course, that they weren't cut down.

justacoolcat said...

"He began boring holes in the trunk with his trusty hand drill and then whittled the ends from some of the cast off lower branches and planted them into the holes to fill in the many spaces"


X. Dell said...

So that's how they did it in the Peanuts cartoon.

I knew you would have to mention that. I can imagine your mom calling your dad a blockhead, and luring him to kick footballs, only to whisk them away at the last second.

Dale said...

I've got a couple of good ones lurking PinkFluffySlippers.

Holly, that's a really great way of not calling my dad a total drunk! (he wasn't by the way)

Very do-able actually Coolcat.

In between prayer meetings and Church suppers, that's my Mom, always with the football X. Dell

Berry said...

Love it!!

Thing is, we also had a C.B. tree every year, but it was the same old fake, bald, Leaning Tower of Christmas tree. My parents got it when they married in '61, and we used it until my dad's passing in '87. We would haul it from the basement and position it in the center of the window space in the living room, and then proceed (a la your dad's method) to tie string around the "trunk" and then (this is the best part)... we'd pull the string towards the right and left sides of the sliding window, open the window, position the string in place, and then SLAM the window shut to secure the string!!!

Aaaahhhh.... the good old days of Christmas tree engineering....

Dale said...

Oh Berry! That's an excellent comment and remembrance, I love the window method!

Tumuli said...


Unfortunately, we have always had an artificial Christmas tree. Never stopped me from longing for the real, needle-dropping deal, though.

Dale said...

There's still time Tumuli. You too can share in the magic of the needle dropping variety. Just do it! Happy Holidays!