Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas is for the givers....and takers

We just finished the last big tour of the year, and what a year it was.
One for the books for sure. After being home for 5 days over the Thanksgiving break
and making a new Ally Venable record, whilst eating turkey, I flew out to St. Louis to join my
Italian brothers for the 20th Annual SRV Tribute concert. It was a huge success and such a wonderful
time to be back home. I then whisked away to Dallas the next morning to join Tommy Castro and the Painkillers for a 10 day romp across the country. We always have a good time, but it was especially good to be back on the bus with the boys, causing mischief. As soon as that tour ended in Salt Lake City, I flew to Kansas City to meet up with my band in Topeka for the last "First Class Life" tour of the year. I have been doing this Midwest run for almost a decade and it never disappoints. The Zoo Bar in Lincoln was packed to the gills and Omaha was crazy and fun. All of the shows were so crowded and fun, thanks to all my friends in Burlington, Topeka, St. Louis, Memphis, Mo., Cape Girardeau, and Tulsa.

It always amazes me how generous our fans can be. Not only do they buy tickets and buy cd's and t-shirts, they also bring us cookies and cakes and chocolate covered twizzlers! They give us clothing and starbucks cards (my fave!) and take us to breakfast. Nothing makes me feel loved more than a full house and home made banana bread (thank you Renee!!!).

Tis the season......the season of sharing.
When I was in full on addiction, no one ever shared anything with me.
I also returned the favor, I NEVER shared what I had with anyone, it was dog eat dog.
If I thought you had something left and you weren't gonna share with me, I would probably steal it from you or beat you into submission. I spent a few Christmas' that were less than average while in my drug use.....and they will always be in the front of my mind this time of year, an that's a good thing.
I never want to forget how bad it was. It's so good these days, it's hard to believe those old memories are true, but they absolutely are and they still suck.
The worst Christmas I can remember is right out of a movie. I was kicked out of the house, my parents wouldn't pick me up for fear of stealing from them and I was out of dope, no food and nowhere to go.
It was freezing cold in Cape Girardeau, Mo. that December 25th, 2001, and I had $5 to my name.
My kids were spending Christmas with their mothers and families and I was not allowed to see them or come around. I couldn't "come around" anyway, I had no car or transportation. I had no gifts to give anyone and nothing to offer but a sad story. I was living in a 2 room apartment downtown, the heat was turned off and I slept on the floor with a blanket and pillow.
I got so hungry, I got up and dressed and started walking down Broadway hoping something was open for food. I walked about a mile in the snow and freezing cold and saw the sign to a Chinese Buffet that was lit up. I walked in the place and it was completely empty, open, but empty. It was $10 for the buffet
and all I had was $5. I just stood there and stared at the food, I had not eaten in days and I was completely hung over and sick from the drugs. I think I almost started to cry......the man at the counter asked if I was going to eat and I showed him I only had $5. He took the money, smiled at me and said
"Merry Christmas, enjoy your meal."  I spent the next 2 hours eating there alone. The man would fill up my drink and I would promise to come back and pay him more money the next day. He just smiled.
He knew that anyone so pathetic as I looked, alone on Christmas with only $5 to his name, was not coming back to pay more money. I walked back in the snow to my apartment and fell asleep on the floor. It was probably the worst Christmas ever. I thought about killing myself that day, but I was too much of a coward to even try. It was all my fault, my own doing. No one had done this to me, I was a product of my own decisions.
I will never forget how bad it was........

So after the last tour of the year, I am now home for the holidays. The Christmas tree is up, presents underneath, and lights on the outside of the house. The neighborhood is full of Holiday spirit and the girls are finishing their last few days of school. I have this beautiful home, with a beautiful family. I have more than enough food, the heat and electric are on and I slept in a bed last night, my bed.
I do not take these things for granted, they are a true gift.  I assume my kids and wife think I am crazy
how I go on about loving this life and being so happy and grateful. I cannot contain myself, it's like a dream. I don't wish this on anyone, certainly not my children. I hope they never have to learn to be thankful the way I have learned, the "sad awful way"......but it takes what it takes.

I was a taker for a long time. I took from everyone and gave very little in return.
Today I try to be a giver. So much has been given to me and I certainly do not deserve it,
so I try and share what I have with others.

Thank YOU for always supporting, always believing and always being there for me.
You know who you are, and I do too.
The best we can do is share with each other. Sometimes we give, sometimes we receive.
I have learned that giving is the best gift of all, as corny as that sounds, it's true.
Being able to give away because we have so much or maybe need so little is the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, and anything else I am missing :)

Peace, Love, Zito