There it was.

A little tarnished.

A little forlorn.

An ornament with bent corners tied with a gold ribbon that had fallen on hard times. I found it the other day at the bottom of a Christmas tote tucked amongst random pieces of greenery and an entire four generations of Christmas glitter and my heart skipped a beat when I saw it.

They say that every ornament has a story.

Me?

I think ornament stories are only for the good ones. The ornaments from long ago Christmases and long ago celebrations and long ago moments in time—those are the ones with the really good tales to tell.

And this ornament tale?

It’s one that makes my heart happy and sad all at the same time.

Here’s the story of the Christmas ornament that started it all.

A long time ago in a land far away I was about to get married to the cutest pair of brown twinkling eyes on the planet.

It was going to be a Christmas wedding.

Right after Christmas.

Months and months of planning had gone into the wedding. There were green taffeta bridesmaids’ dresses and red rose floral bouquets and a white carpet runner and dozens of candles and rows and rows of fresh-smelling pine Christmas trees. I was about to walk down the aisle wearing my grandmother’s wedding dress with a veil and a train the size of Texas with a monogrammed W at the end of it.

I couldn’t wait.

The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of shopping and taste testing and dress alterations and finding the perfect shoes…

…and the much-anticipated wedding shower.

A couple of my mother’s friends were getting together and to host a couples wedding shower for us.

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

Brilliant, right?

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

So my future twinkling-eyed husband and I made a list of other couples that we wanted to invite. The list was made up of 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.

It was going to be the perfect night with our friends.

The day of the shower arrived and we couldn’t contain our excitement.

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.

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

Except.

Except they never did.

No one came to our shower.

Nobody.

Not even one.

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

But at that shower?

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 and trying to avoid the hostesses’ eyes staring at us with sympathy….

….it was all so sad.

I felt less than.

I felt small.

I felt like this was LITERALLY the most embarrassing moment of my entire life.

We tried to make the best of it.

We tried to act like we didn’t care.

Truly.

We took 10 minutes to open the one shower present and oohed and ahhhed over wrapping and the ribbon and the tag. When we finally opened the gift we exclaimed over the ornament like it arrived from the Smithsonian. It was two cherubs engraved with our names telling each other Merry Christmas.

And then?

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

Here’s the ornament I opened at that long-ago Christmas shower.

Tarnished.

A little worn.

A little aged.

And when I saw it at the bottom of that Christmas tote covered in glitter and tiny remnants of all the Christmases that have gone before…

…my heart smiled.

You see, I was the winner that night.

Truly.

I might not have gone home with armloads of presents, but in the end, I got the best gift of all.

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.

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 snowflakes and twinkling lights…

….two tarnished cherubs would still be holding hands.

And telling each other Merry Christmas. 🙂

May all your Christmases (and your ornaments) be merry and bright

Comments

  1. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    What were they thinking?!?!?! I would be ashamed, but life goes on and as usual; you carry on!!! And yes indeedy, you got a keeper!!!

  2. Image for TERESA GONZALES TERESA GONZALES

    This story hurts my feelings for you and at the same time makes me happy....Bittersweet? I love that you are still holding hands all these Christmas years later!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Image for Kris Kris

    This story always brings a tear to my eyes. I had a similar experience--not QUITE as dramatic as yours, but only 3 people showed up for a baby shower. It wasn't the lack of gifts for me that made me sad, it was wanting to celebrate with friends and having the celebration be less than I thought it should be that broke my heart. But .... a moment in time is just that. Many people, then and now, did show us love and support and celebration over life's joyful moments--and I have cause to be grateful and hopefully to pay my thankfulness forward.

  4. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    Karieanne, Don and I don't have your story to tell, but we have that exact same ornament!! Ours too, is tarnished, worn, and aged (a little like us), but we love it!

  5. Image for Heather Heather

    Awww, that is a lovely story. I sometimes look back on moments like those, when our pain was real and we tried to do the right thing in that moment, but it still hurt. As we grow older, it becomes easier to see the blessings we had even in those moments. You still have your best friend and the memory of that special person who gave you the shower and the precious cherubs - and those are priceless. thank you for sharing - and have a wonderful, blessed, Merry Christmas with your loved ones!

  6. Image for Linda C Johnston Linda C Johnston

    You have no idea what a heartstring you pulled. Same sort of thing happened to me at the age of 16. I will tell you I am over 70 now and it still stings. I am so glad you are still holding that hand and looking at those twinkling eyes! Merry Christmas and a gloriously happy 2020! Thank you for the laughs and sweet moments of 2019!

  7. Image for Leslie from Fairview Leslie from Fairview

    Such a touching story with a strong life message. The twinkling eyes of my life went to be with our Lord in June; we would have celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary next week on the 18th. Your story telling gift has once again brought me tears of joy and hope. You never know whose heart you are going to touch when you post. Thank you. Blessings and Happy Anniversary month!

    1. Image for beverly e beverly e

      Oh, Leslie... Wishing you a season of peace, love and precious memories with those twinkling eyes always in your heart. You have truly touched mine today.

  8. Image for Jessica Jessica

    I just shed a little tear...I can feel your pain and know how disappointing that would have been. We had a party right after my husband and I got married. We thought it would be nice to have a little bonfire since I moved to the city where he was living and knew no one. Newly married and overflowing with joy, we made tons of food...2 pork butts and about 8 side dishes. We had cooked all day and I was excited to hopefully get to know his friends. I made cute little bunting flag decorations and chalk labels for each dish. We invited about 25 people. Only 2 came. I later found out everyone "didn't mean any harm...I'm sure she is nice" but "not from around here". That embarrassment you talk about was very real. But, like you...we made it through and I grew as a person and we grew as a couple. 8 years later even happier than day 1. So, let me just tell you, I get it. I'm giving you a virtual hug right now. And, if you ever have another ornament party and you invite us...we will be there with TWO ornaments in hand! :)

  9. Image for Sarah Sarah

    What a story! So sad and so victorious all at the same time! I have a similar ornament and a long marriage as well. Bless your beautiful heart for knowing what really matters! Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary!

  10. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Tears are flowing here! Happy tears because you and your honey are still together decking the halls! Your post is a reminder that a true love never waivers! Merry holidays to you and yours!

  11. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Boy! Someone should have insisted on RSVP's. How awful for you at that moment, but you got the last laugh! I hope whoever they were that they are ashamed to this day.

  12. Image for Carol Carol

    So sorry that any of us even have to live through such hurt, but Christmas and its blessing heals us all! God bless, Carol

  13. Image for Jackie Ludwig Jackie Ludwig

    My husband and I were married the day after Christmas. Not the ideal day. My parents and his were in different states so there were only 4 of us. My parents did give us a wonderful reception but there was always a bit sadness on my part. Well guess what? This year we will celebrate 50 years. Our parents have gone to join the Lord but we know that they will be here in memory. So glad that you have happy memories that far outweigh the “bummer” ones. Merry Christmas.

  14. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    This is such a wonderfully warm story, thank you for sharing and have a Merry Christmas with all your lovely family.

  15. Image for Carol Carol

    Your story comes to me on this day, when I am quietly celebrating that it's the 82nd anniversary of my parents' marriage. They both have been gone for a long time, but I have to think that they're holding hands in Heaven. Happy anniversary to them and to you and your husband on your special day. PEACE.

  16. Image for Paige Cassandra Flamm Paige Cassandra Flamm

    This is the most touching story! I love how you were able to make something so beautiful despite your shower not working out like you'd hoped in the moment! Paige http://thehappyflammily.com

  17. Image for Daphne Hinds Daphne Hinds

    Oh God bless. What a, truly, beautiful moment of your life. It made you all the more thankful of the life the two of you were going to share. Thank you.

  18. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    Similar thing happened at baby shower for my son. I still feel bad (32 years later) because they didn't cherish our friendship enough to come. I'd also love to see your wedding picture! Merry Christmas to you & your lovely family.

  19. Image for Sandra Vigil Sandra Vigil

    KariAnne you always see the glass as half-full and that is why you are my favorite "blogger". I make sure that out of the 50-100 emails I receive each day, your email is one of the first ones I read.

  20. Image for DivaKreszl DivaKreszl

    I love your little tarnished ornament! I am so happy that you have found a way to make the best of that sad situation and that you married your best friend. My heart aches for that young bride and it saddens me that you had to go through that. I can’t imagine that people couldn’t even rsvp or make a small effort to send a gift. Even though we know it isn’t about the gifts themselves, it’s about the people. I hope and pray that you have a better support system in place now.

  21. Image for Wendy Madden Wendy Madden

    Such a lovely, poignant story! I had tears in my eyes! I'm so sorry you went through that shower virtually alone but, as you say, you got the prize in the end. Good for you! Merry Christmas, Kari, to you and your lovely family!

  22. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    Thank you for sharing this sad but amazing story. I can only imagine how mortified you both were. 😢 The very best gift is your love and devotion to each other❤️ Your ornament is so sweet and one to treasure 🥰

  23. Image for Rose Rose

    What a beautiful bride. And how wonderful you can see the joy you have now. Here’s a little story I would like to share. Planning our wedding 40 yrs ago, My now husband wanted to have them play “Hot diggity dog diggity boom what you do to me” by Perry Como for our first dance. I on the other hand had another idea. Very traditional. When I look back I wished I did that. How amazing would that have been. But, it’s still a memory I will always keep with me.

  24. Image for Janice P Janice P

    I love how you have made a difficult memory into a positive of focusing on the joy you and Denny have. I saw the same sparkle in your eyes at your wedding that I still see when you two are together now.

  25. Image for Laura@everydayedits.co Laura@everydayedits.co

    I think the part 2 of this story is the behind the scenes dirt of the guests and their excuses! In the end you only needed one ornament. Once again your talent to find the joy with a grateful heart will outlast all of the no- shows. But for those of us who are now amped up.. we need a little dirt! Hoping to connect next week! Laura #thesnarkyone

  26. Image for Lyndsey Lyndsey

    I've read this story before, but I love it so much and I don't remember seeing that adorable wedding photo before! Also, today, so many of these comments have added to the spirit of the story! ♥️ So many gorgeous trees! The first and the last one are totally my style. Also the white one with all the birds!?!? WOW.

  27. Image for Indigo Indigo

    Of all your stories over your blog years, this one hits home the hardest. This happened to me too. The only difference is that all the invited guests sent gifts. I felt the saddest for the mother and daughter that threw my shower. The food was delicious and the decorations beautiful. I, too, tried to act as if it didn’t hurt me to my core. My future husband arrived to pick me up. We had waited for him to come so we could, at least, share the joy of opening gifts together. After many decades, reading your story, still brings stings to my heart and tears to my eyes for what I went through. I’m just thankful for both you and me, that our life did go on, and we created beautiful memories to replace the hurtful, bad ones.

  28. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    I've heard you tell this lovely tale before and it's still just as lovely!!! It's a bit sad, but you always know how to turn things right side up again. That's my girl... 😘.

  29. Image for Sue Sue

    It takes confidence to tell painful stories when it involves our vulnerability. We each have a tale or two that stirs the plight of humanness in our heart. How we process the pain is paramount! I think we gain a little more strength each time we tell them and if it can encourage someone else ... even better!! Your story made me sad, but proud of your honest transparency. You are exceptionally well rounded and I’m thinking I may know why!

  30. Image for Jeanine Jeanine

    WHAT!!! This is crazy!!! Did people not RSVP? Well, ALL of them didn't know what they missed in both of you that day!!! What a gift you are to eachother! Happy almost anniversary!!!😃😍 I'd say lets through a party now. I'd be there in a heartbeat!!

  31. Image for Toni Toni

    Such a painful memory, but good for you in focusing on the right thing.....that gift of a life long hubby! Virtually everyone has some kind of embarrassing humiliating experience in life. Somehow I think they are designed to build compassion in us for others, consideration of the value of relationships and the commitment to "show up" for people....and celebrations when possible. One of my cherished ornaments was a little white crocheted basket my grandmother made for me one Christmas, but I didn't realize it would be my last gift from her. Bittersweet. Have a blessed Christmas!

  32. Image for Crystal Crystal

    I remember this story from when I read it before. This time I read it to my husband of 51 years and his smile at the end was just as big as mine. Thank you for your beautiful stories.

  33. Image for Jenn Jenn

    I remember this story!! Isn’t that life though? Ups and downs? Thrills and disappointments? It’s so so good to have an unwavering hand to hold through it all! ❤️

  34. Image for Pat Pat

    Karianne, A beautiful Christmas Story! Not in the presents. . .but his presence. . .then and now! Happy Anniversary! Pat

  35. Image for Pastor Suzanne Pastor Suzanne

    KariAnne, the longer I read you, the more impressed I become with you. You have a tender openheartedness that is most unusual. I'm glad you and your man made the best of the time and that you grew together from what you learned that day.

  36. Image for Darlene Darlene

    What a beautiful story! Sad but just goes to say that it isn’t the party that makes a happy marriage! I totally feel for you but you won in the end. I had a very small wedding almost fifty-two years ago and still adore my man! Happy Anniversary to you and your lovely man!

  37. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    Reading your post, I could just see in my mind the setting for your beautiful Christmas wedding...and you must have looked amazing in your grandmother's dress. And then...your honesty about such a hurtful moment captured my heart. Sometimes, we receive so many baby and wedding shower invitations, it's easy to just send a gift. My takeaway is that, we all need to SHOW UP. Because our best gift is our time and attention to the one(s) the shower is for. Life hurts sometimes, but I'm sure your enduring spirit is one of the reasons why your husband fell in love with you. Merry Christmas dear! (And Happy Anniversary). :-)

  38. Image for Dianne Miley Dianne Miley

    That really is so sad. I’m so glad Denny was there to hold your hand. And those who didn’t show up? They missed out! Because YOU are MORE than! So much more, with such a BIG personality. You are beautiful inside and out, and I’m sure your friends realize that they truly missed a great opportunity to tell you and show you how wonderful you are. ♥️♥️♥️

  39. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh, bless you both. Gosh, don't even know what to say. Except that picture of the two of you is absolutely beautiful in every way. Your love shines through, always has and always will. God bless you both - and that sweet sweet ornament. ♥

  40. Image for Brie Brie

    Merry Christmas ... and happy early anniversary! You always write the most beautiful stories! (I'm rather partial to Christmas stories and weddings too ... My husband proposed by threading the ribbon of a beautiful ornament through my engagement ring and hanging it on his family's tree when I visited on Christmas Day 2008, and we were married a year and two days later.) :) Like your beautiful ornament and the joy it brings you whenever you see it, my heart warms every time I look at my engagement ornament on our tree. Blessings to you and your family.

  41. Image for Elaine R. Elaine R.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. What a treasure your marriage is. Happy Anniversary and a blessed Christmas.

  42. Image for Peg Peg

    Oh Kar, this story always breaks my heart! But you rose above it, like the very special couple you are to this day!! Love you!!! xoxo

  43. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I remember this story and it broke my heart for you. But, just look at you now!!! (I was hoping for a wedding photo! Yay! And, so beautiful!) I am glad you shared the story again and the ornament. You have a good heart! Merry Christmas!

  44. Image for PJ PJ

    Such a beautiful, poignant story, KariAnne! Though experiences like this are painful, I am convinced that they help to make us more compassionate people. Thank you for sharing this, dear amazing friend!

  45. Image for Maru Maru

    Well what a sad but wonderful story! And you made it wonderful by your choice to see what truly was the gift - and that is what is still there right in front of you and what truly matters! Love! Can I say too that I will be sure to never do that to anyone ever! A big lesson learned from that angle too! Thank you for sharing your heart! I love the ornament! Precious!

  46. Image for Kaye Neilson Kaye Neilson

    Precious story. I feel bad for all the friends invited to your shower and then for some pathetic reason they didn't show up. Their loss. The pictures of all the trees are wonderful. I love them all. If that is all done in your lovely home then I congratulate you - for they are perfect. Happy Holidays, Kaye

  47. Image for Melissa Melissa

    I am LOVING the trees!! I would really like a monogram ornament too!! Where did you have that made? Thank you for all the inspiration!

  48. Image for Louise M Adkins Louise M Adkins

    I can truly relate to your experience. People just don't understand how much planning, work, and expense a shower/party takes. I do not think they ever have planned an event.

  49. Image for Katherine lee Katherine lee

    Oh my WORD!!! I felt every moment of that poignant story! 💖 May the sweetness of your humble beginnings to the fullness of years of memories continue to grow with your love. Merry Christmas!

  50. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    KariAnne, I'm so happy that you and Denny could put the disappointment behind you and look forward to the wonderful gifts that you would be to each other. You have both been blessed with a great life, a lovely family and a gorgeous home! That cute tarnished ornament is so cute on your tree. Your home is so pretty all decorated for Christmas! Your trees are beautiful and so unique! Have a wonderful Christmas! God Bless You All!

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