Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It has been several days since I've blogged and I will come back and write lengthier posts about each of my last few visits, but right now I want to copy a post I also just wrote on
I want to thank EVERY host family I've met on this tour. I have SO ENJOYED spending every minute with you, your families and your pets even if it was only for a short time. You were all wonderful to me and there was something new and exciting at every turn. Here are just a few of my memories and comments about my visits. The rest will come to the families in personal notes.

Mitchell Family of NH: You are always so nice to me and I love coming to your house. Brian, you are a man of few words but a good and kind and supportive friend. Thank you for the delicious American Chop Suey and brownies. I wish I hadn't brought the snow with me but at least the power didn't go out this time! Good luck Teagan on your college adventures in the coming year and good luck with your book Joyce. Let's do it again next year and pray for a sunny day with temps in the 70's and equipment that works right and doesn't get lost!!

Paul Toole of Wells, UK: Paul, I can't say enough about the days I spent with you and Chris. Everything was perfect and I had such a good time and so many laughs I could never count them all. Thank you for the beautiful accommodations with the giant bathtub that was the place for my naps, for the spectacular job you did with your lighting ceremony, for your wonderful display (especially the penguins!) and the tours of historic places and fairy shops. I really feel like I have two new British brothers and look forward to you visiting our home soon.

Chuck Smith: You are always a true gentleman and I thank you for the opportunity to perform in Franklin and for the delicious lunch and companionable time spent with you and your beautiful wife. Oh, and for the place to shower and get ready after my harrowing trip back from the UK and the overnight ride to TN. You have done so much for me I could never ever thank you enough. I hope everyone here appreciates what you've done by making this website available to help those who sincerely want to make memories that will last a life time.

The Dennis Family of TX: WHAT A DAY! It was beautiful and warm, you guys were awesome hosts (barbecued sausage, yum yum) and I could have sat there and talked with you guys forever. The few minutes I spent relaxing in your home library surrounded by beautiful decorations and children's literature will always be remembered. Thank you also for arranging the visit from the Mayor of Elgin and for the engraved brick, which will have a special place in my home. What a great way to remember a great day that went by way way too fast, just like the train that barreled through during my concert!

The Brown Family of TX: The visit began with a concert at a nursing home which was very special to me, and continued with my first awestruck view of Linda's house with SANTA AND THE REINDEER on the roof!!! Linda, your display had every element of the song and the video you made was wonderful. Your husband's cooking was deeee-lish and your family, including your two terrific sisters- my roadie and merch person, couldn't have been kinder or more fun. You, my dear, have a heart of gold and a wonderful spirit and I hope this is only the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

The Holdman Family of Utah: What can I say? Richard, you not only live up to your reputation as THE world-class decorator, but you gave me the gift of that video which has made this whole tour so much more exciting. My time with your family was really short due to the production of the video but they were just beautiful and so nice to me, a perfect stranger in their home. You extended an opportunity to me and went out of your way to do this fabulous thing for my career, and we had never met nor corresponded prior to that. You just came out of the blue like an angel and since then have become a dear and trusted friend. THANK YOU for EVERYTHING!!!

The Hurrle Family of Idaho: Oh Terry... you, my friend, are unforgettable. From start to finish you did everything possible to make me feel at home. Didn't we have a nice time at our pizza dinner? You talked my ears off but I so enjoyed hearing your stories...your friendliness and your enthusiasm and the joy and pride you have in your display...especially your dancing Elvis. You remain the only person I have ever met who talks more than me!! Your family was so nice and easy to talk with and even your doggies made me feel at home. I wish you all the best and tons of fun with your bowling teams and may you always bowl a perfect strike!

The Zembruski's of Washington: If there was anyone on this tour who was a cool dude it was YOU, Z-Man. What a class act! I was amazed by your home and enchanted by your bright and beautiful and courageous wife. Oh yes, and your display knocked me out too, especially poor baby Jesus out there lying on the grass. You gave me the biggest surprise of the tour by bringing THE Bob Rivers up to sing with me!! The accommodations were five-star, the much needed gift of a massage (Mark didn't give me the massage, he arranged for me to have one at the spa! HA HA!) and the thoughtfulness and generosity you showed in arranging my stays for the two nights of travel without shows were above and beyond the call. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

The Bicknase Family of MN: My biggest regret of the tour is that I didn't get to go to your house because of the storm. I would have found a way in if there was one, but the roads were all closed. Even though I didn't do the concert, you still provided me with a place to stay in South Dakota that was comfortable and warm and out of the chilly prairie wind. SOMEDAY I will get to your house and do that concert. Maybe a Christmas in July? LOL...but seriously I will be there one of these days, I promise, and thank you for helping me out that night.

The Jeffries Family of MO: It was so flipping cold that night but you found a solution and gave me the most unique staging arrangement of the tour, inside your garage and singing through a window. It was very very considerate! And I loved the red cloths you set up around me to give the appearance that I was singing in a festive red room. The pictures look great! All along in the planning of this tour I received the most emails and encouraging phone calls from you, Larry, and they really helped me keep up the energy and enthusiasm it took to get this project off the ground and keep it going. That meant to world to me. Please give your beautiful wife Kellie and your darling little girl Elizabeth a big hug for me!

The Jones Family of IN: Greg, you had things all arranged to deal with the weather and a great crew of strong guys to help me set everything up. I couldn't believe it started to snow just as I started singing, but in some ways that made it all the more beautiful! You and your family and friends were very hardy to stay out there in the freezing cold and snow and I loved meeting the doggies from the animal shelter. You are a kindhearted man who would go out of his way to help the poor animals who are homeless through no fault of their own. I enjoyed hanging out with you and your family after the show and I thank you for your support and encouragement along this adventure. I hope the fog machine works!!

Jason Reph and Darrel Moyer of PA: Two young guys in PA who live in different towns but were both wonderful guys with stellar displays and so much alike it was eerie. Jason, I so enjoyed hanging out with you and I commend you on your magnificent display which even included a model train set! It seemed as though every inch of your house was decorated and I really loved playing with the train set indoors. Your parents were gracious hosts and those chocolate chip cookies kept me going for miles and miles on my journey! The next night I met Darrel and his parents and you reminded me so much of Jason I would have thought you were brothers! Darrel I was amazed at your vast knowledge of blow molds (my favorite Christmas decorations) and the extent of your collection, and I thank you and your father for taking me to see the other display that had even MORE blow molds! I love the spirit and warmth of both of you guys and your families and would love to visit with you again. In fact, I'm hoping next summer to return to PA and maybe meet both of you someplace for lunch. I hope you would be up for that! And one more thing: ladies, if you think all the good ones are taken, you should know that there are two good looking, kind, smart and generous young men in Pennsylvania who are BOTH SINGLE. There....just call me Ms. Matchmaker!

The Shanks and all the folks at Paul's Bakery and gift shop in VA: Howard , although our concert was canceled due to the storm, you showed me gracious hospitality in your beautiful home and it was such a pleasure to meet you and Paula and your daughter. I'm sorry that we didn't get more time together, but I really enjoyed watching your show and especially those cool light tower things and I'm so glad we got to spend more time together at dinner that night. Paul and Sandy and everybody at Paul's bakery: thank you for a fun-filled afternoon and all of your kindness. Getting to visit Paul's display, which is almost entirely made by him and features a whimsical and charming community of gingerbread boys and girls having a grand time, was an extra added bonus that filled me with delight. All of you in Fredericksburg made it a totally terrific day for me in spite of the bad weather.

William Bottomley of NC: A show at the fire station with an actual stage and a live broadcast! A Santa Claus with hairy arms but a great sense of humor and a killer smile! People flashing their lights and honking their horns and kids dancing in the driveway! And Austin Caviness! And a handsome and brilliant host (yes, that's you William) who didn't look like the Mayor of Weeble-ville!! A delicious chicken tender dinner! Tons of kids with cool southern accents asking for my autograph! And then to top it all off with a relaxing night in a beautiful B&B in MAYBERRY, of all places! What can I say? It was totally fun and amazing....all of it. THANK YOU!!

The Browns of NC: You get the award for the only display on the tour with an actual flying angel! What a magnificent and spiritually uplifting display that really celebrates Jesus as the reason for the season. I was proud and honored to be a part of it. And you really went all out by getting the church children's choir to perform with me, which made it all the more special and fun for me and, I hope, for them. All the photographers and video cameras there made me feel like a star, and then the icing on the cake was actually having the KEY TO THE CITY presented to me by the Mayor!!! How cool is THAT?!?!? David and Linda, thank you so much for your encouragement and enthusiasm every step of the way on this project. I know you have been praying for me, and that God has kept me in His hands through the whole thing because of it.

The Charpiats of NC: Oh my gosh! Words CANNOT describe the amazingness of your display. FIVE ACRES of FUN with THOUSANDS of people going through. It's a regular theme park and you don't charge people a cent to go through's a true labor of love. Everywhere I turned something new to squeal over and as long as I live I will never forget the sight of those five little kids with their noses pressed against that window, laughing and pointing at the animated figures inside the little house. As you said, that's what it's all about. And I haven't even begun to talk about our wonderful afternoon of sightseeing on Pilot Mountain and around Mayberry! These are memories that will last for my whole life. God bless you and THANK YOU for making me feel so special.

The Greers of SC: The time we spent together after the concert was even more fun than the concert itself, and the concert was pretty darned fun! The display was wonderful and clearly gave joy to everyone around. Kenny, you are the sweetest and warmest guy, and you've got a beautiful, smart and funny bride to boot and parents and friends who are the tops. You clearly deserve it all. I so enjoyed hearing your love story and the friendship and fellowship we all shared that night. I hope one day to see you in a play for I'm sure you are a very talented and vibrant actor. Please keep in touch and let's do it again!

The Drums of GA: Oh Larry, you wanted so badly for everything to go right, and it did! I was touched that you were so concerned about every detail but I hope you finally relaxed after all was said and done. Singing out there among the several houses that were part of the display was incredible....especially your sequence to "The House on Christmas Street." It blew me away. We had a wonderful crowd and once again dancing in the street. Thank you for it all, and also for the delicious dinner and please thank your wonderful neighbors for their gifts and that delicious chocolate cake. I had a wonderful chat with the Mrs. and I sincerely wished I'd had more time to spend just talking with you guys and enjoying the hospitality of your home. And those doggies!!

And last but not least: Mr. Walker of FL: A beautiful display with your handpainted scene on the garage (you are very artistically talented)...a WARM evening, a great crowd, and, most of all, you and your boys. I couldn't imagine a more wonderful way to wrap up the house concert portion of the tour than having a fun event followed by the great talk we had in the house afterward. You are doing an amazing thing with those boys and I pray that God will bless you a thousandfold for it and give you everything you need as your journey progresses. Thank you for sharing your home and hospitality with me.

I haven't even mentioned the MANY PC people who came to the concerts along the way and really made me feel special. It was a true pleasure to meet each and every one of you...the guests and the hosts...and I hope you know that all of you helped create a truly once-in-a-lifetime journey for me, with little miracles all along the way. I consider all of you friends now, and I hope and pray that God will bring us together again in the future. The words do not come which express how I feel about this whole thing, and about you who made it all happen.

On my 50th birthday on July 11th 2009 I cried all day, thinking that the best part of my life was over and that I was a failure career-wise. Little did I know that the very best was yet to come. God bless you all. You have all shown me in so many ways that it really is a WONDERFUL life.

With love,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting us know a little about each family you stopped at. I am sure you will always remember the memories and we will remember them also.

    -Richard Holdman