I am really just exhausted but it's a good exhaustion. I drove today from Deming, New Mexico to Odessa, Texas. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I spent the whole drive listening to a really great book, so the time flew by. I had time to check into my hotel before going over to Dr. Bob Brescia's house. Boy, was I surprised when I got there.,...the entire neighborhood was lit up. And I don't mean just a little....every single house had lights and decorations along the entire street and even on neighboring streets. They know how to do the lighting thing! It was gorgeous! Bob had set up a flatbed truck with artificial turf in front of his house to be a stage for me, and it was an easy setup. Once I got all set up I walked around the neighborhood and took this video:
In case you couldn't see clearly in the video, Bob's display included cacti with "peppers", mannequins in one of the windows dressed in Texas garb, and an oil derrick spouting "oil" in lights. I love when decorators add regional elements to their displays!
Bob and his terrific wife, Marianne, had hired a caterer to provide food for me and their guests. Marianne told me that their neighbors had gotten involved by planning a block party around my concert, and several of the homes were doing "open houses" and serving food and drink. I thought that was a great idea! This neighborhood seems really friendly and unified. How great it was to be in the midst of it.
Before the show I was interviewed by a reporter from the local ABC affiliate, and I think we were on the 10pm news. And then Jay Hendricks, local news anchor from CBS-7 came out to emcee the show and they also did a feature on the event. So I got a lot of publicity here in Texas tonight. Oh, and by the way, I also found out that Odessa is where the real coach from "Friday Night Lights" is from, and the movie was actually filmed here. And they really do put signs on the lawns of the football players, just like they did in the TV show. I looked around for Tim Riggins, but, unfortunately, he was nowhere to be found. :(
Performing the concert was really something, surrounded by lights everywhere I looked. Before I began, Jay introduced the Mayor Pro Tem of Odessa, who read a proclamation declaring that the street be renamed "Christmas Street" for the month of December. I had tears in my eyes. I don't know, but it just all of a sudden hit me that all of this was happening just because God gave me this idea to write a song about that house "in every town" and I took the ball and ran with it. How lucky I am. That was really a "moment" for me. I was thinking about Edgewood, IN where the Mayor declared it "Judy Pancoast" Day and they ALSO renamed their street "Christmas Street." Boy...what a lot of amazing things have happened on this tour...not the least of which is all of the wonderful people I have met. It's amazing how close you can feel to someone in just a matter of hours. You are all my friends now, and I am so grateful for everyone who has hosted me and everyone who has made this adventure possible.
Anyway, back to the concert....There were a few hundred people out in the street and the folks from the charity, The Educational Foundation of Odessa, were selling these giant glow sticks so all the kids had them. The street was blocked off and kids were dancing and waving their glow sticks around. They had also organized a raffle and were selling hot chocolate. I just found out that, in all, they raised $1700!!!!!! That's a record for this tour, just edging past the total in Boise of $1600 for The Women and Children's Alliance of Boise. I'm so excited that my concerts have been a focal point for raising all this money for good causes....but it's really my hosts and their charities who do the lion's share of the work. And this year some of these guys have set the bar high and created a new model for how to use my concert as a starting point to create an actual event to raise money for the charities. I'll be suggesting these things to all hosts on future tours.
I added "Merry Christmas, Darling" to the set list of this tour because several people, including Marianne Brescia, suggested that I should do a Carpenters song as part of the mix. It's been a great addition, as I look out and see couples holding hands or with arms around one another enjoying this great romantic song. Well, last night a guy walked from the yard across the street, past the crowd and right up to the stage in the middle of the song. He had a glass of what appeared to be champagne in one hand, and with the other he gave me a high five. Then he disappeared back into the crowd and I didn't see him again the rest of the night. I guess he really liked that song!
------I couldn't complete this entry last night as my eyes were closing while I was sitting up, so it's now the 21st and I have stopped halfway to Logansport, LA to finish this, and I'm sitting in a Starbucks enjoying an expensive tall skinny peppermint mocha. This is only my second trip to a Starbucks on this journey because they are so FREAKING expensive. But Dunkin' Donuts are rare in this part of the country and I need to charge the computer anyway in order to do this, so this is the price I've paid. Hee hee...of course I am also enjoying the chocolate fix!
I want to thank Marianne and Bob for inviting me to fill a container with food from their spread last night. I'll be eating that for lunch for the next couple of days. And then, when I got back to my hotel room, there was a "Welcome to Odessa" bag waiting for me, courtesy of the Brescias, and it included this cute stuffed jackrabbit which I will cherish always:
Tonight I will be in Logansport, LA...here are the details;
Then tomorrow it's the LAST concert on the tour, in Baton Rouge, LA, and then I start heading home. I'm hearing terrible weather reports, so please keep me in your prayers. I want to be HOME on Christmas Eve.
As always, thank you for coming on this journey with me and for caring enough to read this. God bless...