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The year the metal band played Christmas

Back in the day,
which I think was on a Saturday...
there was a concert in a bar.

Christmas bed with presents

It was December and it was cold and rainy outside
 but inside an old crusty bar  in a not so great part of town-
 it felt like the heater was on full blast.

There was nervous excitement and sounds of instruments being tuned. 
Cymbals clinking and the drum beating steadily while the bass guitar sent 
deep sound check vibrations through the room.

And there they were.
The band.
There were 4 of them-
all in black t-shirts, worn denim jeans and black Chucks.
 With long hair and serious faces- 
at first glance, you might be afraid to run into them in a dark alley.

 But the truth was, 
they were soft hearted behind that gruff facade.
They were kind and gentle souls who wore their hearts on their sleeves
and were chasing dreams while in high school.

Christmas vignette with flowers

'The Band' was my oldest sons group- he was the lead guitarist and singer and
he and a few friends had started playing and practicing and writing music
and then booking local shows to share their view of music with others.

At home, Ryan would practice with my younger son Cullan- who is a drummer.
And for several years, the little cottage walls shook with all that loud heavy metal guitar and drumming as they practiced for hours each day.

We were big supporters of the band and them trying to make their way in the music world. 
And if they had a show-  with all the teenage metal heads and fans-
the families were there.  
Driving several hours one way sometimes and spending an enormous amount of time in the venues they played-
 usually old bars  filled with quite a few interesting folks.

Christmas wreath and garland on doors

It was definitely a world we were not necessarily accustomed to
but one that we immersed ourselves in to support our oldest son and his band.
There was a show where my husband and brothers even jumped in the 'mosh pit' (bad idea)
and the bands grandparents would show up on occasion-
with their ear plugs in hand.

Christmas bedroom antique bed

And though the band played their somewhat dark,  heavy on the
  faster than you can imagine beating drum and screaming guitar 'death metal' music 
in those sketchy old bars often-   this show was different.

Christmas present on toile bedding

It was the week before Christmas.
In a semi -iffy old part of town near the bay.
The neglected old brick and stucco buildings  that were crumbling away
were dotted with colorful Christmas lights.
And festive green 'garland' banners were draped across the street.
It felt like a sprinkle of Christmas cheer
 in an otherwise kind of forgotten part of town.

Christmas bedroom chandelier and colorful tree in background

The bar was at the end of the row- the last building on the end on the right-
It was the one with the parking lot next to it and the view of the freeway from the back.

I remember staring at it as I reached for the car door handle and
stepped out into the chilly night.
There were not too many street lights and the bar looked pitch black from the outside
but there was a loud hum of drumming already coming from inside.
And  in that week before Christmas feeling,
there was something to be said about the juxtaposition of the twinkly
 Christmas lights lining the tiny windows 
while the deafening heavy metal music shook them.

Christmas bedroom with faux fur stocking on bed

After 'the band' warmed up, they played an hour of head banging, 
long hair twirling, moshing and jumping 
you could hardly hear each instrument because it was so loud music... 
and then- there was a pause.

A pause where all you could hear was the ringing in your ears.

Christmas bedroom with faux fur stocking and tree

The band took a few sips of water, grabbed a few Santa hats
and put them on and then regrouped
with a couple of nods to each other.

It started with just a very soft strum. 
So quiet. That screeching electric guitar and a couple of chords.
The crowd kind of turned around to look at them to see what was happening.
It was so surprising and unexpected- and so filled with magic
 as you realized  that those first notes were from the beginning
 of a much loved Christmas song.

Christmas presents on bed with tree

Carol of the Bells.
Watching those angry at the world looking,
long haired heavy metal band members 
showing their softer side and celebrating the season true to themselves 
and the way they felt their music.

It made my heart soar.

Christmas bedroom peek

That beautiful song played 
 on a cold rainy night in a pitch black bar in the middle of that
 not so great part of town.

Christmas bedroom presents

With twinkling Christmas lights in the windows
 and festive Christmas cookies being served with drinks
and a most interesting group of rowdy folks
 who quieted down just for a few minutes to listen.
It wasn't about metal music or growling or mosh pits, head banging or any of their usual.
It was about the beauty of Christmas.
And truth be told, for me, it was a year I was struggling a bit with some
 life seasons and changes and the season had felt like a mish-mash of trying to stay on my toes.
But that night?
Tears welled in my eyes as I watched.
And the Band showed a tiny bit of their hearts- which they hid behind all the music so often.
It felt like such a lovely gift for Christmas. 

And that my friends was the one. 
That song and that show was my absolute favorite of all that they played
that made me cry.

Christmas bedroom breakfast in bed

Both of my once little rock stars who grew up to be long haired heavy metal
 music playing boys
are now clean cut personal trainers
who play in gyms rather than bars now.

Though they both play music  and play their hearts much more now then when they had that
'metal persona' to keep up.
And The Band? Well, they all went their separate ways after High School and pursued their passions.
One of these days, maybe they will get together to play an encore performance
and you know who will be right there in the front.
With ear plugs, of course.

And guess who will be on their way home for Christmas?
 I have been fluffing the guest bedroom and the cottage bedroom
and gathering all the cookie making supplies,
 mopping floors and wrapping gifts and...

Christmas bedroom with hot cocoa on bed

I remembered 3 dozen other things I need to do
this morning.
At 4 am. 
And when all the cooking, cleaning, wrapping
and those other 3 dozen things are done...

Christmas bedroom breakfast in bed

I just might get one of those old electric guitars and that stacked up drum set out in the cottage
out for a holiday performance.

Christmas bedroom breakfast and presents in bed


  1. Can you tell me where you got that beautiful quilt?? I've been looking for gray and white, most unsuccessfully....

  2. Such beautiful writing, have a wonderful holiday!!

    I hope you get all your to do lists done :) Enjoy your Christmas!

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

  3. Isn't FAMILY'the best! Enjoy every day with them! Enjoy your blog!

  4. I loved this post! The writing style, the images you described, the heart. Thank you. Thank you for supporting your sons and for sharing this memory with us. Merry Christmas.

  5. I married a fellow much like that only he leaned toward rock n roll with country. He has his day job but he still feels the beat at 61! Merry Christmas!

  6. So sweet to see how a mom will support her children ....your blog is so beautiful.

  7. Loved the story and the magnificent images....I can relate to the "band thing" son was in a band for a long time....he wrote his own was not a shock when he chose Creative Writing for his major....Now he still writes creatively, just in "code"..... So I can so see you in those dark venues, the loud music, the ringing in your ears....cheering on your sons...that's what moms do....Enjoy your beautiful family this week....Merry Christmas Courtney!!!

  8. What a lovely story, it has brought a tear to my eye. I have two grown sons who will always, in some part, be my little boys. Beautiful photos, I love your blog.

  9. I am loving your blog. I started following you after seeing your house Jen's house tour. It has inspired me to decorate with more style. This blog brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy I found you!!! Merry Christmas and enjoy the magic family!!

  10. Love this post, Courtney! We are a very musical family (I even married a man who plays bass guitar), my eldest son (who is a drummer) is heavily into that sort of music too (I liked lots of rock-n-roll as a kiddo, just don't understand the whole 'screamo' thing) but happily, the Slash/Jimi Hendrix hair is now shorn and he's finished with culinary school. I'll always love and be endeared by memories of my little rock star. ;)

    You are such a beautiful story teller. I truly enjoyed this post. Have a lovely day!

  11. What a great story! Enjoy your Christmas time with family. Peace and safe travels to you and your loved ones.

  12. Oh yes, the precious memories of our children. Some fear, some joy. Always a complete loving heart. Now...what was the song?

  13. You made me cry reading that but I totally get it...Thank You! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU YOUR FAMILY!!

  14. Merry Christmas Courtney thanks for sharing a poignant moment in your life. Such a "never judge a book by its cover" and a sweet moment. Thank you for sharing!

  15. What a lovely post and Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thank you for bringing the beauty of the Lord into all that you do!

  16. I love that song too, but thanks to you I will love it more!

  17. Such a beautiful story, Courtney - thanks for the lovely moment! ❤