Merry Christmas pillow

Remember the story of the Christmas shower that really wasn’t?

Even typing it made me cry.

It was all about how a couple of my mother’s friends got together and hosted a couples wedding shower for us.

We were getting married right after Christmas so someone had the super clever idea to make it a Christmas ornament shower.

Brilliant, right?

Christmas and wedding and ornaments and hot chocolate all in one.

Chalkboard Christmas tree

So my future twinkling-eyed husband and I made a list.

We invited a dozen or so other couples and everyone was supposed to bring an ornament to help us start our life and our Christmas tree together.

The night of the shower we were so excited.

We wore coordinating Christmas outfits and arrived 30 minutes early to help the hostesses set out the chips and dip and fluff the Christmas tree.

Christmas ornaments

And then we made small talk and sat in the living room and waited for the guests to arrive.

Except they never did.

No one came to our shower.


Not even one.

number pockets

Later they all told me different reasons why they couldn’t come and it all made sense and I understood.

But in that moment, sitting on that couch with my future husband awkwardly staring at the Christmas tree and the chips and the dip and the ceiling and my hands and anywhere and everywhere except the hostesses eyes staring at us with sympathy….

….it was so sad.

Christmas tree upstairs

We tried to make the best of it.


We opened the one shower present and oohed and ahhhed over the two cherubs engraved with our names telling each other Merry Christmas.  I laughed and ate some chips and gripped my almost husband’s hand like it was a lifeline and tried to pretend like it wasn’t any big deal and that it didn’t really bother me.

But it did.

Christmas ornament

And so it was that all these years later I stood in the middle of my upstairs, decorating my tree with chalkboards and pom pom ribbon and tin ornaments and snowflakes.  I added a chalkboard star and a vintage Scottish plaid blanket as a tree skirt.

And then I went to dig through some of my Christmas boxes to find a few more things to add to the tree….

….and I found this.


A little worn.

A little aged.

But when I saw it my heart smiled.

Merry Christmas sign

You see, I was the winner that night.

Because all the while I was eating chips and making painful small talk and groaning inwardly and glancing at the door over and over and over again…

….I was holding the hand of my best friend.

Chalkboard Christmas tree

His twinkling eyes never wavered.

It was as if he knew all the years and milestones and joy that stretched out in front of us.  And that one day that shower would be a distant memory.  And that tucked in among the ribbons and bows and chalkboard ornaments and snowflakes and burlap festooned with pom poms…

….two tarnished cherubs would still be saying Merry Christmas. 🙂

Here’s to a Merry, Merry Christmas to everyone.

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  1. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    How festive! I really like the black and red and the candy striped ribbon makes me smell peppermint already! I love that story, even though it makes you cry. We've all been there...what feels like rejection but really amounts to people just being too busy and an ounce of apathy concerning relationships. I'm happy to have that story because it sounds like it solidified even more the band you and twinkling eyes have...and that is more priceless than any ornament. Have a wonderful, cheery day filled with good wishes from all your friends who are the non-apathetic type. :)

  2. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Good morning, Karianne! As long as you have your best friend that's the only Christmas ornament you need! Your tree looks wonderful!

  3. Image for Heather C Heather C

    I loved the Red Pom Pom Jute Ribbon, that is so festive. Your tree is getting me in the Christmas mood, I'm still trying to hang in there until Thanksgiving is over, but some things may start making an appearance. BTW your daughters look so much like you in yesterdays post, I know you are proud. And honestly when are you going to write a book, you can bring the tears out on this ole girl.

  4. Image for Joanne Vanina Joanne Vanina

    Loved the story. My husband is 20 years younger than me. I can still look across the room and thank God for him everyday. We have been together 21 years. He was 21 and I was 41.

  5. Image for Patricia Patricia

    I was married the day after Christmas. The biggest shopping day of the year, my maid of honor bemoaned. The absolute worst traffic day in New York City our guests lamented. Still, it was December 26th. In New York. And the sun was brilliant and the temperatures soared to 60. Later, as we barely made it to JFK airport in time for our honeymoon flight ( in the worst traffic ever), I knew this day would herald the years to come- a few bumpy moments but full of warmth and sunshine. Our guests tell us they still hang on their trees, the Christmas star ornaments we gave them as favors.

  6. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Oh that is a sad story. My heart ached like an awkward middle school girl waiting to be asked to dance. Sigh. Good thing the story has a happy ever after or I'd cry! Love the tree! The chalkboard star is the bomb! Hugs, friend! Cecilia

  7. Image for Tina Matteson Tina Matteson

    Oh my goodness, I had my heart set on a turquoise ombre tree this year but now I want to do these cute little chalkboards and burlap with pompoms!!!! I just love it... BEAUTIFUL. And your story is so sweet too... I hosted a party no one came to, years ago, as well. And my best friend (husband) and I felt sad at first but then we ate ALL the party food together... hahaha.

  8. Image for Donna Donna

    Karianne , I can just picture the chalk art pillow perched on my little red child 's rocking chair that only comes out of storage at Christmas ! Thank you for al of your beautiful posts . You make my day more delightful .

  9. Image for Laura Ingalls Gunn Laura Ingalls Gunn

    This story gets me EVERY time! The closest I ever came to a similar scenario was my daughter's 13th birthday. We had moved to a new town fairly recently. She invited her entire class and not one person showed up. Wow! Was that ever tough as a mom to keep up the smile when inside my heart was breaking for her. But your takeaway is brilliant. You were/are indeed the winner. We too learned a valuable lesson that day. The people who really mattered were there. We also are now like the post office when invited to parties. Neither rain, nor snow nor sleet keeps us away. Now, I'm off to Kirklands. :)

  10. Image for Christina in FL Christina in FL

    Oh Kari Anne, you DID get the very, VERY best Christmas present.... that year and every year. You BOTH did! :)) Silence speaks volumes.

  11. Image for terie terie

    I love the sparkling ivory Nativity set from Kirklands and I very much like your plaid tree skirt- what a great idea! Blessings to you and all the blog readers this Christmas season.

  12. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    Love, Love, Love your Christmas tree, especially the chalkboard at the top and the burlap pom pom ribbon!! Thanks for sharing.....always love the stories that go along with the pictures! Happy Day to you, friend! Lanita

  13. Image for Tina Matteson Tina Matteson

    Just entered the giveaway and realized I need to comment on my favorite item...! Well, the jute ribbon festooned with pompoms, of course! LOVE it.

  14. Image for Patty Patty

    I'm sorry about your shower Kari Anne but you got the prize anyway didn't you. The tree is beautiful and I am going to steal er copy it. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Image for Linda Linda

    Love that story Karianne! The first time you told about just awhile back, I cried and my heart broke for you. But you ended up with the best of all, that pair of twinkling eyes!! Love your blog and posts and as I've gotten to where I skim over some due to time constraints, I always stop and enjoy yours! Best to you and your family in the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays!!!

  16. Image for Patty Soriano Patty Soriano

    Wow, I thought I was the only one that happened to. I think it was my brother-in-law's first wife who threw the shower. A kitchen shower. Other than my mom, the only person who came was my husband's best friend's wife. Not even my future mother-in-law came !! Her lame excuse.... they were looking at apartments. Yep, it still upsets me. But I'm still married to the wonderful man it started with. Together 34 years, married over 30. // Too much to choose from at Kirkland's but I really like the metal red and green Christmas pennant banner. I hope to get to our local Kirkland's this week because I have a 20% off coupon for my whole purchase !!

  17. Image for Susan Casselman Susan Casselman

    What a heartwarming story, you were able to make a somewhat sad story something very meaningful and touching. I am in love with that tree.....Kirkland's here I come. thank you as always for sharing with us your life experiences. I always look forward to them.

  18. Image for Alex Alex

    Kari Anne, I love how you can turn a negative experience into something positive. My heart burst reading this. I know I wouldn't have handled it as gracefully as you. I would have probably been guzzling wine while pacing, forcing handfuls of chips into my mouth and telling everyone that the tree wasn't the only thing getting lit! I heart your decor. It's fabulous. I want to send you a belated shower ornament... or a box full! XO

  19. Image for Sue Sue

    Kari, I had a bridal luncheon like that. There were four of us: my mother, my sister, the hostess and me. The friends I invited just decided to do other things on a Saturday morning. I can tolerate it now but at the time, I felt so empty. That was 43 years ago so the marriage is a success. That counts so much more than one bridal luncheon!

  20. Image for Erin Rizzo Erin Rizzo

    I love the distressed North Pole sign. Your story brought a little pang in my heart, I cannot lie. But, I love how you finished it. ;)

  21. Image for Shelly@ConfettiStyle Shelly@ConfettiStyle

    Kari Anne, your stories just fill me with smiles and joy. Thanks for sharing the special moments in your life. Oh, and I just adore Kirkland's too! They have so many fabulous Christmas items and yesterday I purchased the Merry & Bright Chalk Art Box Ornaments and the Merry Christmas chalk art pillow. XO

  22. Image for Lisa Lisa

    That's a bittersweet story, sad that your friends didn't make the time to share your joy, but what could be better than your sweetheart standing by your side, hand in hand. Thank you for this nice Kirkland's opportunity. I visited their site and found many nice things, especially the pretty red mercury glass candlesticks. It's been too long since I've been to the local Kirkland's store - I think I'll be visiting soon!

  23. Image for Karenann Karenann

    I really loved reading your story. I have never heard of Kirkland's before, but after looking around their website I see lots of beautiful things, especially the framed farm art. I am always looking for beautiful framed pictures to hang on my walls.

  24. Image for Julia Julia

    Thanks for your story, Kari Ann. A similar thing happened to me thirty years ago, and I thought I was the only one. And reading through the comments I find that you and I aren't even alone. Making unfortunate happenings into positives is such an important life skill, and you have mastered it. Thanks for your encouragement!

  25. Image for Robin Bonvino Robin Bonvino

    I do wish there was a Kirkland's in my local area. There were so many lovely things to look at. After a refresh in my living room recently a holiday pillow or two would finish it off.

  26. Image for Sherrie Sherrie

    I love this story because it has such a happy ending! I have a few of those ornaments myself, the ones that tug a my heart. I will have to check out Kirkland's this year. I especially love the red and white garland you used.

  27. Image for Sally Dinsmoor Sally Dinsmoor

    Love, love, love this post. I remember when my first child was born and the ladies at church presented another new mom with a baby quilt and I was seating right there holding my new born and trying to keep the tears from flowing. I "excused" myself to go nurse my boy. I never could figure out what that was all about. That babe is now 36. I forgave and moved on but it still hurts a little but mostly is a mystery regarding why that would happen. A test I suppose from the good Lord above. I hope I passed. Would love to win!!!! Lo Kirkland's!!

  28. Image for Sally Dinsmoor Sally Dinsmoor

    Love, love, love this post. I remember when my first child was born and the ladies at church presented another new mom with a baby quilt and I was seating right there holding my new born and trying to keep the tears from flowing. I "excused" myself to go nurse my boy. I never could figure out what that was all about. That babe is now 36. I forgave and moved on but it still hurts a little but mostly is a mystery regarding why that would happen. A test I suppose from the good Lord above. I hope I passed. Would love to win!!!! Lo Kirklands!!

  29. Image for Kris Kris

    Oh, wow, good to know that so many of us have had similar experiences! Mine was for my first baby's shower. We were fairly new in town and hadn't set down a lot of roots yet. My friends from my previous town were going to throw me a shower but most of the people ended up having very legitimate reasons for not being able to attend--I think there were 2 or 3 people there, besides myself. What I took away from that was the importance of showing up to important life markers, if you at all are able to do so--and it motivated me to have our small group at church throw baby showers every time there was a pregnancy. The funny part was--the ladies at church didn't throw me a baby shower, but I ended up being "showered" with baby gifts when my little guy came along.

  30. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    That is sad but sounds like it had a wonderful ending. I also love your tree and the giveaway. I had a similar experience when my friends gave me an open house party and the only people were the ones giving it. We ate lots of food and it was fun anyway. I do love that idea of an ornament party. Funny how things work out in the long run.

  31. Image for Tess S. Tess S.

    After 36 + years of marriage to my best friend, I can tell you, you received the best gift ever!!!!! Sad at the time but, honestly, you won!!!! Your Kirkland's tree is absolutely beautiful!!! Have a very, very, very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!!!

  32. Image for Pat Pat

    So much to choose from! A new Kirkland's recently opened near me...within walking distance! :) I love the Santa framed print. This story gets me each time but your gift of the twinkly eyes guy = winner! xo Pat

  33. Image for Sheila Sheila

    Your story reminds me of one Christmas when we were first married - we had a snowstorm on Christmas Eve Day and we were snowed in at home. We both came from big loud families that always celebrated together, but that night it was just the two of us. It was strange and sad and wonderful all at the same time and seems like such a long time ago. P. S. Our first son was born in October of that next year, some 40 weeks after that Christmas Eve. Heh heh.

  34. Image for Edwina Edwina

    Love your site-thanks for your generosity with stories, ideas and giveaways! I love the pebble glass drink dispenser and I NEED it! ;)

  35. Image for Babette Babette

    That story still gets to me! So glad you have turned that memory into something beautiful! Love the giveaway! I would buy the Aqua Coastal Wreath! So matches my coastal decor! Love it!!

  36. Image for Cassandra E Cassandra E

    Every time I read this story, I just feel the steadfast love, that is really the best. I love all the glitz and glam. I couldn't pick just one.

  37. Image for Regina Regina

    Sweet, sweet story - sweet, sweet LADY! :) And the Kirkland's decor? Delicious. Their Christmas collections are sublime!

  38. Image for Melissa Melissa

    I would'nt have missed it for the world & I have been there with sleigh bells on. That was a wonderful idea for the party. I would have loved to see the photos of how everything was set up.. But overall, it just proves through thick & thin your best friend will always be there your side.

  39. Image for Linda Linda

    How wonderful that you now recognize how lucky you are to "be the winner"! Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share your story, despite the pain and to show how you have overcome. What a beautiful tree!

  40. Image for Roz Roz

    Goodness, Kari Anne! You can take me through a story like no one else. I was sitting on that couch with you, feeling for you, wanting to hug you and tell you that it would all be ok, that you were sitting with your Forever~Always, and you'd have untold numbers of loyal friends made through your words. I'm so happy your bestie was with you to support you. Many more Merry Christmases to you both! LOVE that incredible Chalkboard Star! Think I'm going to have to replicate that awesomeness!

  41. Image for Leona Leona

    Such a real life and sad story to share, but thats you Karianne. In the end, just like a Disney or Hallmark movie that starts off sad, the ending is "they lived happily ever after" :) :)

  42. Image for Heather S Heather S

    I love this garland! <3

  43. Image for diedre roberts diedre roberts

    I loved your story! You are wonderful and wise. Your perspective is priceless. Your photographs are amazing! Red and White is so appealing at make it even better.

  44. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    No happily ever after story begins happily ever after. Not the really good ones, anyway. I'm so sorry that happened to you and your Prince Charming in the beginning of your story, but your story is one of those really good happily ever after ones. And I'm so thrilled you decided to share it with us!

  45. Image for Nancy Nancy

    Burlap ribbon with red pompoms--Yes puhhhleeeeezzz!!!!! Oh so-o-o-o cute!!!!! Love your tree, your house, your story, your husband--- well I bet I would if I ever met him! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  46. Image for Jacqueline Jacqueline

    Aww, what a bittersweet story! I'm glad you had twinkling eyes with you then and that you can look back on it in a positive light now. It reminded me of the parable of the guests who didn't come to the wedding feast in Matthew 22. Which gave me food for thought. Thank you!

  47. Image for Jennie Jennie

    After many years of bright Christmas decor I am giving in to my eldest son's pleas for a very classic Christmas (he is 15). I am in love with the burlap stockings at Kirkland's this year. They are somewhat timeless.

  48. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Awwww!! Doggone KariAnne, how in the heck can I make pizza with my nose running and my eyes all teary?? I can't see a thing -- I'll probably put the dough over my wine glass and put the salad bowls in the oven. I can't believe it you had no-one there. OMG I want to give you a big hug so badly!!!! Well, I have my best friend with me right now and he'll see to it that I don't goof up too badly. May I send you a Christmas ornament?? Virtual hugs!!

  49. Image for Megan Brewer Megan Brewer

    You've got me so incredibly excited to decorate for Christmas! Part of me wants to decorate now! But I am making myself exhibit a small portion of patience (well maybe a big portion) and decorate after Thanksgiving. Hugs to you! Thanks for sharing your stories and life with us. Megan

  50. Image for Debrah Nash Debrah Nash

    Be still my Christmas heart! Did I see little Mason jar lights on that festive, heart stopping, beautiful tree? My Mason jar loving self can hardly contain the joy of seeing those beauties strategically tucked in among the branches!!! Sigh!!!!

  51. Image for Ardith Ardith

    Kari Anne, you and your husband, as well as the shower host, demonstrated a lot of grace that day. I wish stories like yours and some of your commenters would be a reminder to us all, that we make a big difference in each others' lives...simply by showing up. Cheers, Ardith

  52. Image for Sheila Sheila

    The most beautiful and important part of your Couples Shower story is that God knew exactly how your life would play out, and that there would come a day when you would pull those tarnished, a bit worn and aged cherubs out... and SMILE!

  53. Image for Beverly O Beverly O

    I cannot count how many times I've held on to my lifeline like that. My husband's had seems to be the thing that keeps me from floating away in what might seem like a river of rapids but might really only be a little bitty drip drop.

  54. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    I don't know how you ever got over that shower ordeal. At least you got the best gift, and you know it!!! God bless you and your man.

  55. Image for Kathy Kathy

    Your story gives me heart. Thank you for sharing! I am sad that the the Kirklands in our community closed several years ago. It makes me smile just looking at the mason jar ornament!!!!

  56. Image for Maaike Maaike

    Oh Karianne!! You so totally hit the jackpot in the marriage sweepstakes!!!! Also, thank you for hosting this lovely giveaway!

  57. Image for ruby ruby

    yep, we've all been there.... once gave a surprise party and forgot to invite the honoree!! yep. we just kept sitting around waiting for her.....

  58. Image for Kristi Price Kristi Price

    I just about love everything at Kirklands, they have such a great selection! I really like their cozy Christmas decor. Thank for the giveaway, this is my first time here to your site so nice to meet ya, I'm Kristi from Florida :)

  59. Image for Deb Huffaker Deb Huffaker

    I love your stories.....except maybe the sad ones! :( I would like to know how you were dressed!! Did you have on a sweater with bows and lights and Santa and reindeer and all things festive?!?!?

  60. Image for Deb Huffaker Deb Huffaker

    I can't choose one single thing. I was so disappointed when the Kirkland's at the mall went out of business. There's one in Pigeon Forge that I visit from time to time and LOVE the store! I especially like the seasonal decor.

  61. Image for Susan Susan

    I think you handled your shower much better than I would have. Kirkland's has so much cute stuff. I'd start with a Nutcracker and Santa's for my mom and a friend.

  62. Image for Cheryl Anne Cheryl Anne

    Your story left me smiling...your tree did also! The Red Pom Pom Jute Ribbon is so cheerful, and I love the interplay of red with the wonderful graphic black and white elements.The chalkboard on top is lovely too!

  63. Image for Pamela Smith Pamela Smith

    I love Kirklands! I love pillows and coastal stuff, so the Seas and Greetings pillow and the Turquoise Seashell Tree pillow are awesome! I also love the Gold Reindeer Pillow. Thanks for the giveaway and your tree looks amazing!!

  64. Image for Jeanne @ I Dream of Jeanne Marie Jeanne @ I Dream of Jeanne Marie

    Hello KariAnne, I am fairly new to your blog but absolutely love reading your stories and hearing about your family and how you share your faith. Trying not to miss a day of it, I usually save it for the last thing before bed, so I can ponder on what you wrote. Your style of writing and your thoughts are so refreshing... your Bridal shower story is so touching and you have one of those "special" hubby's just like I do! Aren't we blessed? I would be thrilled to win anything from Kirklands... I could use a little help with my Christmas decorating... Thanks for the chance to win something... Blessings, Jeanne

  65. Image for Sarah @ Little Red Brick House Sarah @ Little Red Brick House

    That story is so sad but still sweet, in a way. It kind of reminds me of a similar event that happened at my baby shower years ago. Bu t anyway, I love the tree! Red and white are such classic Christmas colors and there's no way that you can't get in the Christmas spirit seeing everything displayed so beautifully like this.

  66. Image for Deborah Deborah

    I love the ending of the story! At the actual time, it was disappointing! And it was such a neat party idea. Often situations in life can be that way. It hurts at the time, but we learn powerful lessons from it later. Kirklands. Oh my! There is a floor lamp I love and all the lanterns and some chargers!

  67. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Beautiful story! Thanks for the chance to win a Kirklands gift. I've been a fan of theirs for years. Love all the Boxwood items, their holiday pillows and the We Believe in Santa print. Likes for all the wonderful ideas you share with us.

  68. Image for Ivette Ivette

    LOVE THIS ITEM!!! matches perfectly with my other items.

  69. Image for Sandy Sandy

    Love your story today. I too have sentimental Santa and Mrs. Santa figures kissing each other that were in a beautiful floral arrangement my husband sent me while I was in the hospital days before our first Christmas together as a married couple. I have smiled and held back tears of joy 43 Christmases and hope for many more.

  70. Image for Angie W Angie W

    I love the Flocked Top Hat for a tree topper. I need a new one and this is just adorable. I could find tons of things to love and always do when I shop at Kirklands.

  71. Image for Wendy Lou Wendy Lou

    My husband I have the same ornament! Such a sad memory and yet so precious - you always have each other to hold on to!

  72. Image for Jennifer Essad Jennifer Essad

    I love the new Bronze Monroe Mirror, here is the link

  73. Image for Nancy Carr Nancy Carr

    I love the angel wings ornaments and the angels. So many beautiful Items. I love them all. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway. Blessings, Nancy

  74. Image for Kim McNeel Kim McNeel

    Love the story. I had an ornament shower as well. I did have a few guests but not many, maybe it was the time of the year. Love the beautiful decorations!! So festive!

  75. Image for Cheryl B Cheryl B

    I've always wanted a flocked tree, so my fave Kirkland item is the 7.5 ft. Flocked Frosted Light Christmas Tree. And it's pre-lit!

  76. Image for Tammy Schu Tammy Schu

    What a sweet story! Something similar happened to us, and we can laugh about it now, but it was kind of heartbreaking at the time! Your tree is gorgeous, and I love the sideboard!

  77. Image for Brandilynn Brandilynn

    I can so relate! I held onto my husband yesterday for dear life (our Thanksgiving festivities were a day early), just as I do every time there is anything social we have to do. You are so right that you were the winner that day- the hand you held as you cringed inside was the one thing you needed to help you hold on, that day and every day after. This story made me tear up! But you have the happier ending. And if you ever doubt that, one look at that beautiful tree should remind you that you are the real winner! :) Love how beautiful your tree is and how touching this story is. It makes the lights and ornaments shine all the brighter. Now, on to my tree!

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