This past week we decorated the outside of the house that I love.

(total aside: if you were the one that honked when I was on the porch, I couldn’t wave because my arms were full of poinsettia).

We hung red bows and evergreen swags and a giant wreath on the front of the house and added urns of poinsettia to the steps and the entire time I hummed to myself.

It’s Christmas carol season.

And there’s nothing better than “O Holy Night” and “All I Want for Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Joy to the World.”

My heart is brimming over with Christmas music right now.

I’m wrapping presents and watching Hallmark movies and drinking coffee out of Santa mugs and making bows out of velvet ribbon and arranging poinsettia.

Tomorrow November ends and soon December 25 will be knocking at my door.

And so to celebrate all the Christmas songs that have gone before here’s a story about one of my favorites.

When I was younger, I knew that I knew that I knew….

….I was going to make it onto Star Search.

To me, it wasn’t really a question of if, more of a question of when.

Just a matter of time.

I knew that one day I was going to be discovered singing quietly to myself in aisle seven of Wal-Mart.  The notes would dance softly across the polished linoleum floors into the waiting ears of a big Hollywood agent who would immediately and without hesitation approach me on bended knee and offer to represent me.

And then he would whisk me away to the Star Search stage to a world of fame and fortune and a long and illustrious singing career.

It was going to be incredible.

I couldn’t wait to see my name in lights.


Except for one, tiny, insignificant, often-overlooked, minuscule detail.

I couldn’t sing.

Not ever.

Not even a note.

Truth?  Just between us and the Star Search judges, I wasn’t aware of this fact.  I truly thought I sounded amazing.  I would sing in the back of my parent’s station wagon to an un-eager audience of brothers and sisters and when I belted out the high notes it sounded to me like the angels were singing a heavenly chorus.

Or so I told everyone.

And no one ever disagreed.

I can remember trying out for the solo part in “Away in the Manger” in the Christmas program at church when I was in fourth grade.  I sat at the piano in the music room with the choir director as she listened to my enthusiastic over-the-top-complete-with-choreography-totally-off-key rendition of the song.

And after the first verse, she stopped me quickly with an awkward smile and asked me if I was nervous and offered to play the song on the piano for me so I could hear the notes.

I took this as an encouragement.

The next step in the audition process.

So I sang louder and stronger with more gusto and proceeded to act out the entire first verse of the song and finished the rendition with a last note so full of vibrato that it made the chandeliers rattle.  When I finished she simply sat there for a moment without saying a word.  Then, in a sweet and gentle voice, she told me that she loved my dramatic song interpretation—especially the part when the cattle were lowing.

She went on to tell me she thought that I would have made an amazing soloist, but she had decided with moves like that…..

….I would make the perfect innkeeper’s wife.

And I was.

An amazing non-singing innkeeper’s wife that is.

I never sang a solo in that children’s choir.

But life went on.

And I grew up and got married and had four children and moved to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and then moved back to Texas and bought back the house that I grew up in.

However, the story doesn’t end there.

This past weekend, I sat in a church pew and waited with anticipation as my sweet niece stood up at the front of the church with her friends in pink pajamas wearing a bow and a smile the size of Texas and sang one of my favorite Christmas carols….

….Away in the Manger.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched her sing.

Every note in tune.

Every note as clear as a bell.

She finished that long ago chapter and sang the song that I never could with a voice straight from my heart.

PS  She didn’t add any choreography, but don’t worry I had it covered. 🙂

PPS  Happy December and merry, merry Christmas week from our house to yours.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
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  1. Image for Penny Penny

    She is the sweetest! That smile is beautiful. Your house is gorgeous as always. Thank you for sharig your beautiful home for us all. The very merriest of Christmases to you and your family!

  2. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    Great story as usual. You front outside entry is so pretty. Are those real Poinsettia? It was 28 here when I got up so I could never trust our weather with real flowers but the real pine holly,and magnolias are fine. Enjoy the magic of the pre Christmas season ,it always flies by so quickly.

  3. Image for Kathy Kathy

    You were meant for blog stardom!!! Our daughter's choir director told her she could just move her mouth to the words to the songs. Lol! And when I was dating my husband he sang in the car and I told him l, "Ok, now, sing it right!" He said, "I was singing it right!" I realized he just couldn't sing in tune. We all have our different talents. Singing isn't mine either.

  4. Image for Deb Deb

    If singing brings you joy, sing on! No one needs to be in a choir to enjoy singing. Maybe keep your windows shut, though. Lol. One of my favorite childhood memories…our houses in my old neighborhood were small and close together. My bedroom window was 50 feet away from my neighbor’s kitchen window. On summer days I would hear Tootsie singing her heart out as she worked in the kitchen while listening to the radio. While not every note was on key, the joy it gave her shown through and gave me joy as well. Sing those Christmas carols!

  5. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    Oh sweet sweet sweet! I remember thinking I sounded like Julie Andrews when I was a little girl! I have a terrible singing voice but still belt out the Christmas carols! Your home looks lovely, and your niece is darling!

  6. Image for Kim Kim

    She is just darling and your story is filled with those magical long ago dreams when we were all sure that we could do anything. Brings a little bit of the feeling right back again. Thanks! And Merry Christmas. ❤️

  7. Image for Toni Toni

    Such a sweet story and told as only you can!! Loved it. I remember trying to help my son learn to sing on key when he was young while we were driving in the car. I'd sing a note and encouragingly ask him to try to match it. Try as he might, he was always just enough off to make me quietly cringe. But you know what, now as a 38 year old man he has a great singing voice....and on key! So never give up! Who knows you may yet sing Away in a Manger on key, but if not, you can always do the choreography which would be amazing to see!! 😉

  8. Image for Terri Holland Terri Holland

    Now KariAnne, I know for a fact that you CAN sing. I’ve stood beside you during a Christmas cantata from years ago & joined in singing right on tune! We WERE on tune, right? Merry Christmas to you & your sweet family!

  9. Image for Nancy Nancy

    You are the best! Oh how I love this story. It is so very much like ME! Thank goodness I have precious granddaughters who CAN sing. Your little niece is a true representative of Christmas JOY.

  10. Image for Linda Linda

    Oh how this made me smile (and a few tears) remembering my own little ones in the church plays years ago, singing their hearts out. Your niece is absolutely precious, the story so sweet, and your house? Like a Christmas postcard! Merry Christmas to you and yours...enjoy the season!

  11. Image for pam langford pam langford

    You are so funny! You had me laughing out loud and I even read it to my husband so we could laugh together. I love your site. You are the first one I go to when I wake up in the morning. I don't know how you do all that you do, but please don't stop. You are the one that got me back into decorating and diy. I am 78 and I am enjoying every minute of it

  12. Image for Donnie Donnie

    Something else we have in common! I remember setting up in my room to practice Christmas carols. My downfall was Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem. Unfortunately, I could only sing it to the tune of America. Think about it, the words fit. My poor mother was beyond words trying to get me to sing the right tune. Even now, many, many years later I still have to pause and think about it when I am alone. My husband and children have amazing singing voices, but someone has to be the audience - yep, that’s me. 💖. Your niece is adorable. I’m sure she sang like an angel. How blessed to have an Aunt who appreciates her talents.

  13. Image for Ramanda Ramanda

    OH HOW SWEET LIKE YOU I THOUGHT I HAD A WONDERFUL VOICE. MINE IS SO BAD MY OLDEST GRANDSON BEGGED ME NOT TO SING HIS BABY COUSIN TO SLEEP!!, I still belt out song when no one is around and in with those sweet 2 & 3 year olds in Bible class. HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  14. Image for Becky Becky

    Another wonderful Karianne classic! I always avoid telling someone they "can't sing", cuz... then they stop! Not all singing has to be on key to be joyful, right?! I love the way your choir director handled that... an innkeeper's wife, huh? 😄😄😄

  15. Image for Be Be

    Children brings us so much joy. Their innocence and sweet voices bring true joy to Christmas! The smile of a child is so contagious- even the Innkeepers wife. Happy Holidays!!

  16. Image for Barbara Boothe Loyd Barbara Boothe Loyd

    Precious story re your try out for solo part. I could not be a soloist in fifth grade, but I was cast as the angel who told the Christmas Story. It was the first time I wore makeup. The bonus was memorizing scripture about the birth of Jesus. My cousin, Jim Boothe, co-wrote Jingle Bell Rock. He was from Sweetwater, TX. Thank you for liking his song. I like it's energetic best. I enjoy your blog and writing. I think you would be a compassionate inn-keeper's wife.

  17. Image for Gail Cunningham Gail Cunningham

    What a cutie patootie! The best moments in life are spent with the little ones 9who sometimes got the talents we didn’t necessarily get!). Your home is stunning! I am awed by your ability to accomplish so much in a day; if only you could “can” some of your talent and sell it! In the meantime I’ll try to glean your talent into my neck of North Carolina and make my home as cozy and friendly as yours! Have a great evening, Gail

  18. Image for DeMarie Ingraham DeMarie Ingraham

    Oh my goodness, she is adorable. How wonderful she could put the exclamation point onto your delightful story.

  19. Image for Darlene Darlene

    Your house is beautiful as always. I love your story and your niece. I have a similar story. When my boys were very young I used to sing Jesus Loves me, one night a little voice said don’t sing Mom we will just go to sleep! Fast forward 20 years and I had my 3 young grandsons here Christmas morning and was singing Carols and a little voice said don’t sing Grandma it hurts my head. Oh boy no more singing for me only to myself, from now on. My sons just laugh about it now.

  20. Image for kim kim

    Karianne, your niece is adorable. When my 2 sisters and I were kids we used to use our hairbrushes as mikes and sing Supreme songs. As the oldest I was always Diana Ross. We used the fireplace hearth as our stage. We of course were awful, but my Mom (God bless her soul) would tell us we were great but we should still try to find a backup job, just in case we didnt make the big time. Move forward 20 years and my husband and I bought our 1st home with a fireplace hearth almost like the one in my childhood home. We were like little kids again singing on the hearth and just loving life. Our audience put their hands over their ears and begged us to stop, but we told them theres no stopping us now!!!! Thanks for bringing such wonderful memories back for me and you can sing Away in a manger for me anytime. As a matter of fact sing it on your next you tube show, we will all sing with you. Love you Karianne XOXO.

  21. Image for Janet Suda Janet Suda

    You mentioned it before about sea grass rugs are they better than Jute from India e-sale rugs on sale for $500 9X12. Jan Suda

  22. Image for Janet Suda Janet Suda

    I want a paris map also. Searched the Hobby Lobby sites and you probably got the last one! What a treasure and find.

  23. Image for Heather Heather

    Oh my, I laughed and laughed! I shudder to think how my parents lived through my "Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume..." when I sang it with gusto from the choir loft in the fourth grade. Wondering now if the choir director was hard of hearing, as my husband and my children keep reminding me, "Mom, please don't sing out loud, you will make the grandchildren tone deaf." One of my twin grandsons is actually tone deaf, but like my own parents, no one has the heart to tell him! I agree with all the other comments, you are a great storyteller.

  24. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Too funny. It's obvious you've always had a lot of confidence! Your niece looks to be a angel who can carry a tune!

  25. Image for Kat Kat

    I always love your decor!! Your front porch is beautiful! I understand about singing, but not singing well! My children, who love me, have asked me not to sing. I don't understand this, but I don't sing when they are around, but sometimes in the car....


    KariAnne, your precious little niece is a real sweetheart! What a lovely smile she has! I know you were so proud of her when she sang "your" song. This is a perfect ending for your story. Always enjoy your stories. You are "the best" story teller ever! I always love reading your posts. You have done such a wonderful job with decorating your porch and steps for Christmas. Everything is so beautiful. I love the swags around your door. The red flowers are so pretty. It would be so nice if we could have real red flowers where we are! Instead, with the snow we have, I use real pine branches, pine cones and red bows in our planters. Thanks for sharing with us. We always enjoy seeing your beautiful home. Have a wonderful week.

  27. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh bless both your hearts. ♪ ♫ I laughed out loud, KA- you are so danged funny. I have 2 sisters one can keep a tune but just isn't Star Search material. One is so completely tone deaf it's been a fun thing to tease about her entire life.......and I may not have my sisters beauty (they got my mother's genes) but because I look like my father, well, I sing like him as well. I have been a soloist on Christmas Eves past. I have sun in church choirs for most of my adult life.....but my fav story of all was when I was on a cruise ship on my honeymoon and entered the singing contest that went the entire week till the last night. And I WON!!!! It's the weirdest thing to lose one's own privacy while on one's honeymoon. I had people stopping me in the elevators, in the airport even on our way back. And yes, one sweet lady from NYC said that "You are bettah than Bahbra!" (Streisand, yeah right, haha. But I swear it is the truth she said that. I laughed out loud at that too. Laughing and singing - and choregraphing Christmas tunes......just plain ole' fun, innit???? : - D Happy Advent season, bless you and your sweet family. Sorry this is so long. Oh and duh- love the porch!!!

  28. Image for Karen Karen

    It's 5:00 a.m. and your story started my day with the biggest smile. I can totally relate to your inability to take all those beautiful notes in your head and belt them out perfectly in tune ... not ever realizing I couldn't hold a tune. I, too, choreographed and twirled, singing my heart out, wishing fervently I would be discovered and be whisked away into the world of fame. Flash back to when I was 22 years old and had my first daughter, my captivated audience. I sang every lullabye known to man and she fell asleep in my arms every time. One day my husband recorded me singing Rock-a-Bye Baby and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, on a new innovation he brought home ... a portable, Panasonic tape recorder. I called that mean little machine the "Dream Crusher". It wasn't until I heard the playback that I came to the realization that only my babies would ever listen to me sing without cringing. Flash ahead to 2021, me, at 70 years old, still loving to sing, out loud, at home, ALONE, accompanied by the speakers blaring so I can't hear my own voice. I never became a famed "Innkeeper's Wife" or decorator extrordinairre, but I try. And, I sing while doing it! (Oh, and my grandchildren are now my biggest fans (!) and sing along with me.) KariAnne, you are truly a unique, creative, and entertaining woman. Thank-you for sharing your creativity with all your 'Groupies'. Your house looks beautiful and shines, just like you do! Merry Christmas!

  29. Image for Jacqueline Jacqueline

    Aww she's so gorgeous 😍 Your house is really beautiful,I love it, thanks for all the tips and insertions you've posted.

  30. Image for Renae Renae

    Such a great story. I imaged you doing your audition-I might have giggled to myself. Your niece has the sweetest face. Happy December, my friend.

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