Well, I've been home now for a couple of weeks and am finally starting to feel like myself again. The cold I ended the tour with became a sinus infection so I've been on antibiotics for the past four days. Now my husband is sick! But it was all worth it. I had a wonderful tour and so I thought, in the tradition of my lifelong friend David Brancaccio (host of Marketplace on Public Radio), I would break it down by the numbers.
25: Number of days I was gone
17: Number of concerts
22: Number of different beds I slept in
5: Number of friends/family members who let me crash at their places for the night
5: Number of dogs who licked my face (I loved it!)
1: Number of dogs who ate their way through my tote bag to get to a granola bar
1: Number of fire trucks I rode on!
4: Number of times I hung out with Santa Claus
1: Number of leg lamps I had my picture taken with
1: Number of problems I had with the van (battery died cause I left my lights on while I napped with the keys in the ignition)
1: Number of President Trump bobbleheads whose heads fell off while I was looking at them
9,976: Number of miles I drove
29: Number of states I visited
2: Number of times I threw up
$1616.05: amount of money I received from sponsorships after PayPal took their cut
$973.30: amount of money spent on gas that was not paid for by gift cards people gave me
$325.40: amount I spent on food. Many thanks to the people who treated me to meals!
$259.30: amount of money I personally spent on 3 hotels (in other words, that hosts didn't provide)
2: barrels filled with donations for food pantries
Over $7,000: amount of money raised for charity (the exact total I have is $7027 but there were some stops I haven't gotten a total from)
I'm very very grateful for all of you who pitched in to help. From the folks who sponsored the tour from the beginning, to the hosts who treated me so kindly, people along the way who just generously handed me cash or gift cards for gas or food, and the people who gave me candy, and cookies, and gifts and ribbon candy....it was all wonderful and I was so honored and I appreciated every single thing. I shall cherish all of the memorable gifts I received and think of you when I look at each one. As I write this all of your faces are flashing before my eyes and I'm thinking about how blessed I was to be able to do this. I cannot ever thank you all enough.
And on that note, I must announce that this was the last tour I can do like this. This one took a lot out of me, and I have to admit that even though I'm in pretty good shape, I'm getting a lot more tired at 58 than I was at 51 when I first did this. Not that I'm an old fogey! I just found that I was much more exhausted at the end of the days and by the last part of the tour I just didn't feel well at all. I had a terrible cold and laryngitis by the time I got home. So I don't anticipate that I will do this again unless some miracle happens and I get a tour bus and a driver and all that stuff. That's not likely to happen, but you never know.
I will miss all the wonderful decorator friends I've made, and I will miss your magnificent, creative, festive and amazing displays. They have brought so much joy to my heart over the years. I could never have imagined that I would be so blessed as to have seen so much Christmas festivity, to be a part of it, to have my music in it, to see so many people smiling and having fun and really sharing the spirit of the season. God bless you all. And now I'm getting all teary eyed and so I'm going to close for now....
But I have one last thing for you guys. I've written a book. It's called "The House on Christmas Street" and it is dedicated to all of the decorators I've come to know and love over the years. It is the story of a decorator from Florida who moves to Maine for a number of reasons, but who really wants to see his display in the snow. Of course, there's a crabby neighbor who wants to shut him down....but the story is about much more than that. I think you're gonna love it if you ever get the chance to read it. I'm starting to query agents this month, so keep your fingers crossed! And thanks for the inspiration, and for making my song a hit all over the world. I really and truly love you all.