Often when I tell people that I’ll be spending Christmas on the road, they give me the sad face. In a half of a second expression, I read their thoughts which are clearly saying, Aw, you poor little gypsy girl with no stability, no presents and no family to bake christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with. Fuck that. I began enjoying Christmas the year that I stopped giving a shit. I’m no Grinch, I love Christmas, I just believe that people put way too much pressure on holidays with their empty traditions and obsession with consumerism.
I would roughly guess that it was 2006 when my Dad hit me with one of his very many wise thoughts. He essentially said that he doesn’t stress over buying presents because he would never want anyone to stress over buying him presents. While that doesn’t sound particularly profound, it definitely changed my outlook. I hated that panicky feeling that consumed the days leading up to Christmas when you still had presents to buy but you don’t know what to buy and time is running out. When my Dad said that, I realized that I truly would rather NOT receive a present than have anyone stress over what to buy me for a holiday. I think for the past 8 birthdays, my dad has simply given me a card and a six-pack of beer. Like father like daughter. I’m now the same way. Unless I know exactly what gift I want to get someone, I just don’t worry about it. Or I’ll make a donation in their name. I’m a pretty big nay-sayer of gaudy consumerism, so I like giving charity gifts.
Excuse my rant that is only slightly related to my original topic, which is to tell you how my 2014 Christmas went, and to set the record straight about holidays on the road. Sure, they can be lonely if you let it, but here is why it doesn’t have to be.
Christmas Eve started like any other show day. We loaded into the venue at 6:00am, I did a baby wipe shower in the lobby bathroom and applied some make-up and attempted to not let my hair look like a bee hive, but I stopped with that attempt when I remembered that I hadn’t washed my hair in five days so there was no helping that mess. I broke down a couple pallets and went back and forth between the stage and lobby with two hand-trucks and gave a guarded to smile and a coy comeback to the stage hands who insist on making some of type of chivalric comment about a female doing any type of manual labor. Then I took a nap on the lobby floor.
I woke up to the children in the lobby and decided to document the mild absurdity of the fact that our photographer/videographer who I will call Monterey; his job is to take pictures of little girls in tu-tu’s everyday. He appreciates the humor in this as well.
We had two early shows that day, so load out happened earlier than usual, meaning that we had time to go drink. We started on the bus, as Monterey took one for the team and walked to a liquor store and brought back some christmas cheer. He got us all bottles and then also got some mini bottles that I’d like to think of as stocking stuffers. We didn’t have stockings, so a dirty tupperware would have to do.
Then we all went to The Griffon, the best bar in Charleston and coincidentally, where we went last year at Christmas. A new, unconventional tradition. Last year, we were just about the only people in that place, so we hit it off real well with the bartender, whose name is Ben, and chatted it up with him while we drank our Christmas spirit into existence. This year, we went back to the same spot, and Ben was still there and he miraculously remembered us.
So It felt good to be back at the same place with the same individuals on Christmas Eve. Sitting next to Sue, as she told me about her ex husband, and sitting next to Monterey as we bullshitted about the geography of the middle east in relation to psychology, sitting with Laura as she shares her love for Gone with the Wind and sitting amongst all seven of us as we discussed what kind of drink each person would be (we decided Lucy is peppermint moonshine, Monterey is a mint julep, A-dog is an IPA and no one could come up with what I would be) and sitting across from Ben as he filled us with christmas cheer (a.k.a. liquor), it felt good to be in that dive bar with a makeshift family celebrating Christmas Eve like a band of misfits.
Somehow we all made it back to the bus alive and I woke up to nothing other than a truck stop on Christmas morning. I think that is wildly appropriate and semi ironic considering my life this past year. I was not complaining because I love shitty gas station coffee and I even treated myself to a splash of the machine made peppermint mocha in my luke warm holiday coffee. Merry Christmas to me.
I am almost always the first one awake, so I try to be quiet in the mornings while I get my start. I was absolutely still drunk, as it was 7:00am, and I was thinking oh fuck… here comes the part where you need to spend 15 minutes trying to get your life back in order from the night before. Nope. Everything was exactly in its right place. I love when that happens. More often than not when I’m wasted, the next morning I am consistently impressed with myself that I did not lose anything, and even managed to get my coat, boots and phone in the same exact place that they always are. I felt I deserved a high-five for that one. No one was awake yet though, so I settled for an inner congratulatory on being a professional drinker. A-dog and Monterey both woke up in a panic that morning, thinking that they left their phones at The Griffon. Anyway, I got my coffee and beef jerky and sat in the jump seat while we cruised down I-95 in the rain and finished the novel, “Half Broke Horses” until Monterey and Sue woke up at around 8:30.
Merry Christmas! Shots? Yes please! We dug into the stocking stuffer basket and the three of us did a shot of whiskey for breakfast while flipping through the television channels to find the station that plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours.
Then the waiting game. It was a day off, so that means we get a hotel room. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00am, and rooms were not ready, so we sat on the bus and waited while taking a consistent flow of shots from mini dixie cups while still in our pajamas and listening to terrible christmas carol covers.
We were all too disgusting and hung over to try to do anything more serious than going to 7-11 before getting a shower. Monterey and I managed to get a load of laundry done, which was the one appropriately domestic thing we did that day considering that it was christmas and the general public is participating in mostly domestic behaviors while we fight over junk bunk space and brush our teeth using water bottles. So Monterey and I sifting through laundry together, getting excited about detergent pods and bantering in bunk alley about whose shoes smell worse was a true domesticated christmas event.
Once showers were accomplished, we went to go see a movie, because what the hell else are you going to do on Christmas? Then we got back to the bus and drank a bottle of champagne from the bottle (we’re too gangster for glassware) as he taught me about the “Rossi Toss” and we listened to Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Him and I have discussed so much over the tours that I can’t believe we still find new subjects to talk about. He’s a true rarity. Without a doubt, one of the most intelligent people I know and can absorb information in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I think he may have a photographic memory… or something close to it. He knows a lot about a lot, so the conversational possibilities are endless. I know a little about a lot of things, which is one quality that I think gives me the ability to be able to talk to just about anyone, but Monterey knows A LOT about a lot. So a quick stop at the bus before continuing on with our night, turned into an hour and a half conversation over a bottle of champagne that came in a fitted champagne koozie. Brilliant.
The crew had originally planned to all be together on Christmas night, but on this particular tour, the girls always end up doing their own thing, and then I end up with the boys and we just end up going to a bar.
Somehow on this night, Monterey and I got separated from the pack, so him and I went to the beach for dinner. It was great. If anything, it was a really nice christmas present to not be in the freezing cold for a change. We were in South Florida because the show the following day was in Miami. We’ve been on tour mostly up in the northern states, and it’s been friggen cold, so the beach and shorts for christmas was very welcoming to us all. Sand is not Monterey’s thing, but he sucked it up while I frolicked on the shore and splashed around in the water underneath the moonlight. I needed to get that out of my system and he was a good sport about it. More drinks. More laughs. More conversations. Bus. Pass out. And that was Christmas. It was a good one.
I missed my family and I do feel guilty sometimes about never being home, mostly because of my sister, but I think that the Christmas season should just be about enjoying people rather than things and that’s exactly what I did. While it felt like a normal day off while on the road, it was a particularly good day off. I didn’t have a christmas tree, gifts were not exchanged and there were no homemade dinners and pies, but I did have a great friend by my side, a bottle of champagne, the beach and some good laughs… and who needs more than that?
“He who has not christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”