First I just want to say that the greatest thing of all for me about these concerts is the WONDERFUL people I get to meet. It's such fun to show up at a place and meet people you've been corresponding and planning with for months...you feel like you know them already, but then to see what nice and fun people they are in person is the icing on the cake. I liked John and Bonnie Earle before I even pulled up to their house, but man! What a wonderful impression they made on me last night. A beautiful couple just filled with love for each other and God and their fellow human beings. It's an inspiration! Their display is lovely and John had made a pretty backdrop for me inside their garage in case it rained...but the weather held out and we had a fun concert for about 60 people in the driveway and raised $200 for the Wounded Warrior Project! John and Bonnie handed out BIG candy canes to the attendees and the Daughters of the American Revolution came out with a table to hand out free hot chocolate and homemade baked goods. The weather was fairly warm (I didn't need any gloves) and there was a slight mist but no rain. In all, a perfect evening with a fun and appreciative audience and a good result for the charity. I'm very happy about it!
Part way through the concert a little girl, I guessed she was about two and found out later I was right, toddled right up to me out of the crowd while I was singing "Merry Christmas, Darling." I held my hand out to her and she grabbed my finger in a tight grip and stood there with me during the whole song. Then for every song after that she came back, and when she danced to the faster songs it was just a hoot. Her name was Dylan and she was a little doll and a half. What a precious experience for me!
I also wanted to mention that meeting John's best friend and Bonnie's son were two more pleasures of the evening. We all went to dinner afterwards and it felt like I was with old friends. We talked and laughed as though we'd known each other all our lives. For me, out on the road alone and often showing up at strangers' houses, it's a heartwarming experience to be so fully welcomed by people that you just know are going to end up being lifelong friends. This is what has happened in the five years since I began doing this tour...I've been so fortunate to make real friends all over the country, from Maine to California. I can't tell you what a blessing this is to me, and I once again want to thank all the people who make it possible with their donations. I don't get rich on this tour...in fact, when all is said and done I don't make any income except from radio during the month of December, but what I gain in friendship, love and lifetime memories is "more than money can buy," in the words of a little song I heard somewhere...
Now, about that falling down. Five minutes before I was supposed to begin singing I was heading back to the van to get something when my shoe hit the side of the walkway and I lost my balance. I went careening forward and reached out my left arm to break the fall because I had something in my right arm. I landed face first in a low bush. It was pretty scary for a minute, but aside from shocking my shoulder (the one I had the surgery on) and scraping my knee I am no worse for the wear. But it was VERY embarrassing! Many thanks to all who rushed forward to help and express concern for my well being. I am A-OK! Just a klutz!
The next show is at the home of Jordan Winton and his family (Jordan is a 13-year old wizard decorator!) in Manchester, TN tomorrow night, so today is a driving day. Right now I am in a hotel with a fitness center so I'm headed down to get in some exercise, and then I'll hit the road. It's about a nine hour drive but since I don't have a show today I'm going to stop in and visit my dear friends who I first met on the tour in 2010, Larry and Rachel Charpiat of Pilot Mountain Christmas. I'm really looking forward to seeing them. See what I mean about making lifelong friends through this experience? I have truly been blessed.
Oh, and by the way, on the way down to Montclair the Sienna rolled over 462K miles> whoo hoo!
God bless everyone. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful Christmas season!