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.
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.
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 they never did.
No one came to our shower.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the ornament I opened at that long-ago Christmas shower.
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.
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. 🙂