The Great Christmas Tree Commando Raid, by Eribert Loehner

There used to be a popular Vancouver band called “Doug and the Slugs”. It had a number of campy hits in the 1980s, but before those hits it was just another struggling band that played at dances in high schools and church basements.

Sadly, the lead singer, Doug Bennett, passed away in 2004 at age 53. He left a great legacy. Not only was he an accomplished singer, song writer and band leader, he was also responsible for “The Great Christmas Tree Commando Raid”. 

One year, due to the family’s austere economic circumstances, the Bennetts could not afford to buy a Christmas tree.

The commando raid

Rather than break the sad news to his five year old son, Doug recruited the band members to go on a commando raid. They were going to steal a Christmas tree from a tree lot and were willing to risk their lives to do it.

They included Bennett’s son in the planning for the raid, but he had to swear to absolute secrecy on his favourite comic book. Any leak of confidentiality could result in the whole band being captured or even killed!  

The key to any successful commando raid is preparation, so about a week before Christmas the band members started getting ready.

They blackened the rear windows of the old clapped-out van that they used to haul around their instruments and amplifiers.

Doug and his son spent days sharpening kitchen carving knives. These were the weapons the guys were going to carry to defend themselves.

Doug took his son to reconnoitre local Christmas tree lots. They studied their defences and looked for weaknesses. As Christmas drew closer the tension became unbearable. 

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was the planned night of the raid, so the band members gathered at the Bennett household. Doug gave his watch to his son and told him to hold onto it; a memento in case he didn’t come back.

The guys dressed all black for the raid. They darkened their faces and tucked the knives into their boots. Bennett hugged his son for what might be the last time and his son cried at the thought of losing his Dad.

Armed and dangerous, they left the house in the blacked-out van around midnight. 

Of course, at midnight on Christmas Eve, tree lots would pay to have someone remove the leftover trees. It was a safe bet the band members would not be captured and certainly not killed, but then, Doug’s son was not aware of that.

Success! Back home with the tree

When the guys arrived back at the house about an hour after they left, with a scraggly tree tied to the roof of the van, there was relief and jubilation.

After the suspense while the raid was in progress the tree was a release for everyone to celebrate, especially Doug’s young son.

The guys carried the tree up to the living room and set it up. Decorating lasted into the early daylight hours of Christmas morning.  

Then, when all the memories were indelibly established, Doug’s son slipped into a deep sleep.

He dreamt of sugar plum fairies and fierce, knife-wielding commandos.

The band members sat back and knocked down a few single malts.

It was mission accomplished; a successful raid and they didn’t have to kill anyone!

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