The day started off wonderfully at the Hudson(IL) Elementary School where I presented a Christmas concert for a gym full of K-5 kids. They were just great! I got lots of hugs and high-fives after the show and once again, as I do at every concert, I felt blessed to be able to look into the eyes of children and sing. Several of the kids had been to the show at Bobby Dicken's display last night and they expressed excitement at seeing me again. Little by little I winning people over with my music, which was one of the tour goals and it feels good to see it happening.
After the school show I had to say goodbye to my host family, the Dickens, and it was kind of sad, as it has been saying goodbye to everyone on this tour. I correspond with folks for months, then by the time I get to their houses it is like we are old friends, and then I'm gone. But hopefully these will just be the beginnings of new friendships, just as many new friendships began on the first HoCS tour two years ago.
For the past couple of days, since the van broke down, I have really been feeling down about the fact that, after the last concert on Sunday, I would have to turn right back around and drive back to Omaha to get the van, and I would probably not be home for Christmas. Plus I had managed to pick up a few gifts along the way and they are still in the van! I've been going over a million different possibilities for getting the van back, including picking Emma up in NYC on Sunday and doing the road trip with her. She's game for it, but it would mean she also would not be home for Christmas.
I talked with Philip about it this morning, and one of our ideas was to drop the rental off in NH and then one of us would fly back to Nebraska to drive the van back. He volunteered to do or but I don't want him to. I feel like it is my disaster and I would be too worried about him doing it. We ended the conversation with him agreeing to look into flights and me agreeing to find out how much extra it would cost to return the rental in NH.
Anyhow, I had been driving through torrential rain for a couple of hours when the thought occurred to me to check the forecast for Livonia, Michigan for this evening. It said 100 percent chance of rain. Well, I thought, "Perhaps we ought to cancel, and if we do then I will drive back to Omaha now and be able to get the van and I can still make it to Toronto tomorrow. The van was supposed to be ready by five today." I decided to call the Howse family and see what they thought. The display is done by 25-year old Timothy and his parents, but I was really torn because on one hand I wanted to be able to get the van, but on the other hand I didn't want to disappoint anybody. However, there were two good reasons to cancel: 1) I can't have my equipment out in the rain and 2) people probably wouldn't come in the rain.
I spoke at length with Mr. Howse and explained that it might be smart to cancel. I didn't want to do it, but it would not be possible for me to perform in the rain. He said they could set me up in the garage. I said that I wondered if people would still come, and he said he thought they would. Then I explained the whole situation to him about the van and all, and I told him I did not want to disappoint anyone and if he thought people would be there then I would still come. We left it that I would continue to head their way and we would all pray about it.
A little while later he called me back and said that some of their display equipment was not working because of the rain, and maybe that was a sign from God and we should cancel. I felt bad and relieved at the same time, cause now I could go get the van. But I offered to come back in the summer and either do a Christmas in July show at his house or a concert at their church, and then we said "goodbye" hung up.
I pulled off at the next exit to call the garage and ask if someone could meet me there after hours so I could pick up the van...this is something they had offered to do for me if I got back on Christmas Eve. Well lo and behold, the guy at the garage said it turned out it would not be ready today after all, and now we were looking at closing time tomorrow!! They said it was a giant job of work to get the old transmission out because of all the corrosion, etc., and something about it needing a new axle and so it wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow. There would be no possible way I could pick it up on Friday, so I just sighed and said, “Okay” and it’s back to plan A, driving back on Sunday after the show in Nazareth, PA, or, possibly, returning the rental in NH and flying back. Either way I would probably not be home for Christmas.