Daddy used bolt cutters to cut the chain on a livestock gate. We rode in the bed of his truck, speeding across a bumpy field.
In the pickup-bed: Daddy’s friends Willie, Stuart, and me.
“This is a bad idea,” said Willie, trying not to choke on his cigarette. “Old man Luke’s liable to shoot us for stealing.”
The truck came to a stop. It was night. We could see our breath. We looked across acres of pine trees which grew in a field of weeds.
Daddy aimed headlights at trees. In a few minutes, chainsaws screamed, men laughed. They shaped balsam firs with trimmers, and cut down nearly forty-five.
They stacked them on a flatbed in a hurry.
The next night, Daddy and I sat in the front seat, wearing Santa caps, heater blaring. Bing Crosby never sounded so good.
He handed me a clipboard. “You’re Santa’s Little Navigator tonight.” he said. “Read me them addresses.”
I read, pointing a flashlight at a roadmap. And we delivered balsam firs to every dilapidated home, ratty apartment, rusty camper, and aluminum single-wide in
We were greeted at front doors by men in work boots, women in waitress uniforms, and their giddy children. Daddy would set trees in dens, and give them free smiles.
Most people thanked him until they wore out their voices. Some cried.
Daddy would say, “Don’t thank me, thank the church.”
But the church had nothing to do with it—not officially.
The following Sunday at church, Daddy was a door-greeter. I stood beside him, shaking hands, passing bulletins.
With each handshake, Daddy said, “Care to donate to needy kids who can’t afford trees?”
People handed over bills. Tens, twenties, even a few hundreds.
After service, Daddy drove a maze of dirt roads while the sun lowered over the world. We stopped at a faded house in an overgrown field. Daddy rapped on the door.
An old man…