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James Hetfield is a ghost of Christmas past...

Verse Chorus Verse: Metallica – “Creeping Death” (Live)

So as part of my "What Would Tiny Tim Do?" miniseries of thankfulness, I've also recounted a few Christmas memories. There was yesterday's story of getting my first CD and CD player. It was the last Christmas our nuclear family of six would spend together. My dad informed me that he and my mom would be splitting at my high school graduation party a few months later. A few months after that, the split came to pass and a new chapter began.

There were a lot of bumps and bruises at first as a result of this, and all these years later there still are. Both of my parents and all three of my siblings live nearby. I see and talk to them regularly. As in every family, I'm closer to some than others and the same is true of them. Things have gotten better. Both parents have remarried. Three of the four of us are married. There are nieces and nephews. It wasn't easy but life went on and although relationships have changed, there are still times when it all feels a little fresher in my mind. One of those times is Christmas.

I still remember one of those first Christmases after the split. When we were younger, my parents banned all secular music from our home. They were pretty sure the road to Hell was paved by MTV. As I got older, I started hearing the devil's music other places. My mom one day heard me listening to Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok" and damn near flipped out when she heard the phrase "massage parlor." Seriously. This meant I had to start sneaking my music into the house. Slowly my parents realized some penetration of the outside world was unavoidable and some of the restrictions loosened. Slightly. If I so much as said the words "Ozzy Osbourne" or "Metallica" in their presence, there was going to be an intervention and I was probably going to be grounded until I was in my middle 50s.

So Christmas approached and my dad asked us for our Christmas lists. I remember feeling slightly awkward to be 19 or 20 years old, writing the equivalent of a "Dear Santa" letter, but I wasn't going to turn down the loot. I still can't tell you what possessed me to actually ask for Live Sh*t – Binge & Purge, the 3-CD/3VHS live box set from Metallica. I can't remember what made me think simply asking for that wouldn't be grounds for an ass-chewing. I suppose the only thing more shocking than me asking for it was my dad actually buying it for me.

I no longer have a VCR but I still have that set.

Christmas can mean a lot of things to people the world over. I'm pretty sure messages like "Die, Die, Die, Die, Die, Motherfucker, Die!" aren't all that popular in the Hallmark line of cards, but it worked for me.

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