Merry Christmas!!!!! I can’t tell you how exciting this Christmas season has been for me. I had a great time playing for the Guild Guitars’ employee Christmas party in New Hartford, CT, then Rapid City, South Dakota with Jake, Haley and Cowboy Emmitt with Tom Haggerty also performing on stage for Habitat for Humanity. Then… my wife Rita, daughter Holli, and I were off to England.
Robert and Mary Wilson hosted us on our stay 30 miles out of London. I played everyday I was there either in London or Knebworth Village. Lord Henry and Martha Lytton Cobbold opened their beautiful Knebworth House estate to the public for Christmas concerts where I performed over the weekend. The house was decorated so beautifully but the people there were the main attraction for me. I ended every “Christmas”show with “Freebird” (by request) as my encore piece since Lynnrd Skynnrd played there on the estate grounds with the Rolling Stones in 1977. I had a blast! Henry and Martha hosted a private Sunday afternoon tea for us and the Wilsons and a few close friends. It was a memorable experience to say the least.
To support the song I wrote “Christmas at Knebworth with you”, Lord Henry (who is also a producer and screenplay writer) decided to shoot a video of me playing it in the room. This is what I call the “Batman” room where Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger were dining as it was converted into a large dining room in the movie. If you see a painting resembling the room behind me it is in fact a painting of the room by none other than Sir Winston Churchill who visited the house many times and deemed it his favorite room of all. Besides all that, Rob had us riding around London in his Bentley. But, being a country guitar player… do you think I felt comfortable in all that luxury? Absolutely! It was wonderful!
I think one of the most memorable things that happened during all this was when I asked Henry to read from Luke chapter 2 and the true meaning of Christmas. The greatest story ever told never ever gets old but it just gets more precious to me. To be invited to play is an honor I never feel quite worthy of. To play my guitar and honor the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is even way more than that. It’s the reality behind my music… the foundation of Hope… and the substance within our faith that is the soil of any seed planted. Some plant and some water and we’re all one… and yet we’re all nothing but the good thing is… God makes the seed grow and brings the increase. (derived from 1st Corinthians 3:7)
My close first cousin Gid Giddens lost his soul mate of over 40 years this past Saturday. I had Gid and Linda on my mind all day. In fact, all of our family did. As I was taking a walk I was praying for Linda. I was hoping that she would make it through Christmas. I was telling my friend Pastor Ed Rae at the Calvary Chapel in Redlands of her faith in Jesus and her incredible positive attitude during her fight with cancer. It was right after my sound check around 5:15 in the afternoon. Pastor Ed and I were talking about our friend Roby Duke and I mentioned his ‘untimely’ death and Ed said when it’s His time it’s never untimely. I agreed. I spoke with Gid early Sunday morning and he said Linda had passed around 8:15 EST which was at the same time Pastor Ed had said that to me. Ed’s wife Rae Rae said “well, she’s having a whole lot better Christmas now!” That’s the reality of our Faith in The Lord. That’s the reality of our Salvation. That’s the true reality and meaning… of Christmas.
(In Loving Memory of Linda Giddens.)