A couple of days ago I had a party in this room.

We ate food and laughed and told stories and had an intense discussion on Christmas trees.

Important, thought-provoking questions like:

Should all the ornaments match?

Should you put up the crumpled snowflake ornament with the few remaining pieces of glitter on it that your child made in second grade?

Should you let your kids put up the ornaments on the tree?

Should the tree be just pretty?

Or should your ornaments have a story?

Truth?

I like my trees pretty.

I like sparkly ornaments and shiny glittery lights and trees that sparkle with a little coordination.

But my heart?

It wants more than just a pretty tree.

So tucked in amongst all the pretty are ornaments from all the Christmases past.

Ornaments that make you laugh.

And sing.

And giggle.

And sigh.

And tell their story.

My husband and I were married right after Christmas.

It was an amazing wedding full of roses and green taffeta and blue eyeshadow and aqua-netted hair and all the Christmas trees from the side of the road that people were getting rid of that my mother dragged into the church to decorate the stage.

The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of preparations and fittings and tastings.

And showers.

A couple of my mother’s friends got together and decided to host a couples Christmas ornament shower for us.

Brilliant, right?

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

So my future twinkling-eyed husband and I made a list of all our closest couple friends.

We invited a dozen or so 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 with matching jingle bells.

Obvi.

We arrived 30 minutes early to help the hostesses set out the chips and dip and fluff the Christmas tree and then we made small talk and sat in the living room and waited for the guests to arrive.

Except?

Except they never did.

In the totally saddest of Christmas news…

…no one came to our shower.

Nobody.

Not even one.

Later they all told me different reasons why they couldn’t come.

Someone was sick.

And someone had to work late.

And someone didn’t want to come without the rest of the couple.

It all made sense.  Things happen.

I get it.

I understand.

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 all those hostesses’ eyes staring at us with sympathy….

….it nothing but sad.

We tried to make the best of it.

Truly.

I made a giant production out of opening the one shower present from the hostesses.

I exclaimed over the tissue paper.

And the ribbon.

And the packaging.

And oohed and ahhhed over the brass ornament with 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.

Inside I wasn’t sure if I could ever look at that ornament without crying.

And so it was that all these years later I stood in the middle of the dining room, decorating my tree with chalkboards and red ribbon and red snowflakes and tiny trucks.

All those perfect ornaments.

All the shiny.

And the glittered.

And the twinkling, coordinating, perfectly placed ornaments on the tree.

And then?

In the very bottom of one of the Christmas boxes…

….and I found this.

Tarnished.  A little worn.  A little aged.

But when I saw it?

I didn’t cry.

Instead?

My heart smiled.

Because truth?

I was the winner on that long ago Christmas shower night.

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 shiny ornaments and snowflakes and glittery ornaments…

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

Holding hands.

Together.

Comments

  1. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    Love your opening your heart to all of us with your beautiful stories.A wonderful Christmas to you and yours. Thankyou

  2. Image for Mary Mary

    OMG! made me tear up a little! I am not so sure I would have been so gracious, but Kari Anne, when I grow up, I wanna be just like you. Merry Christmas xoxo

  3. Image for Nancy at Adams and Elm Home Nancy at Adams and Elm Home

    Can you pour this little story into a cup of hot chocolate so I can drink it up? This is the best. We just celebrated year 24 yesterday. Later, I'll share that one special ornament on my tree that gives me all the feels. DM ya later. Have a blessed day karianne! Nancy

  4. Image for Janette Janette

    Awww Kerianne this is beautiful and touching and wonderful all wrapped up together in a big christmas bow....exactly how all memories should be, don't you just wish....a big smiley end....wishing you, your twinkling eyed husband and beautiful family the best of holidays...xx

  5. Image for Janette Janette

    Oh I have a PS if you will indulge my curiousity abit longer.....did any of the people involved ever give a real appoligie..!!!!!! you know, in person, sad faced and all that, and do you still have anything to do with them....xx

  6. Image for Lisa Lisa

    I LOVE this!!!!!!! We have a tree upstairs that holds all the popsicle stars, cross-stitched ornaments made by yours truly 27 years ago, and every ornament anyone has ever given us. I passed the trimming of this tree honors off to my 15-year-old this year, and I refrained from rearranging anything. Who am I to question the way he views the placement of the ornaments? He did a fantastic job. Merry Christmas my friend. Llisa

  7. Image for UMZ UMZ

    Heartbreaking! Whatever happened to the lost art of RSVP'ing? Had people RSVP'd, you would have been prepared. Ugh. How inconsiderate. Glad you could turn lemons into lemonade!

  8. Image for Kristina R. Davidson Kristina R. Davidson

    I-ABSOLUTELY-LOVE-YOUR-STORIES. I remember your inspirational message throughout my day every time you write one. I just wish we lived closer because I am certain we would be friends. Thank you, Kari. Kristina, in Oregon

  9. Image for Sue E Sondker Sue E Sondker

    I remember this story. You surely have what Christmas is all about. God's grace for you and giving it to others. Merry Christmas.

  10. Image for Linda Linda

    I am going to tell you my "Christmas Shower Story". I will make it as brief as possible. When I was in High School, my group of friends always had potluck dinner on Friday nights. Each Friday a different girl would host the potluck and would provide the main dish. One only had to hostess about once every six months. It was my turn. My FIRST turn. We were not very well off financially. I had a very sick little sister and most of the money and attention was focused on her understandably. My Mom knocked herself out to make Sloppey Joes for a group of 20 kids (which she could ill afford) and help me set up for my big evening. You guessed it. No one came. Not one single person. Of course, everyone had an excuse. It didn't matter. The humility and embarrassment I suffered that night is still with me. It was a major turning point in my relationship with people. I so admire that you can smile at the memory and you have twinkle eyes and your ornament. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    1. Image for April Driggers April Driggers

      I have a great friend who put on a HUGE birthday party sleepover... and not one person (other than me) showed up... those little moments really DO stick with you. I'm 45 and she still remembers that like it was 4th grade all over again. Presence is a present... and excuses are just ... sad.

    2. Image for Kim Kim

      I just read this poignant post by Karianne four days after it was posted. Linda, if by chance you circle back here I want you to know your post made my heart break. The sacrifices your loving mother made on your behalf understandably magnified your pain. I'm sorry, I wish you a wonderful Christmas and hope you are surrounded by people who love you.

  11. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Although I've heard this before, my heart still goes out to you. My tree is chocked full of ornaments made by my used-to-be-littles, picture ornaments from school and Sunday schools of old, and gifted ornaments with a story. I told my daughter just this year, that anything that doesn't have a story is going away when I take the tree down in January. And, with my son's showers/wedding quickly approaching, I cannot fathom how he and his fiance would take nobody showing up...

  12. Image for CathyAnn CathyAnn

    KariAnne, you are the BEST story teller EVER!!! I just love reading your heart warming upbeat stories, especially when they involve love. I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband too. Decorating our tree is a journey of memories with each ornament having it's own story. With most of our loved ones passed, we have ornaments from their trees, my grandmother, special handmade ones. It's so much fun to take each one out and remember it's story. The very best part is sharing the time with my awesome husband. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family!!!

  13. Image for Dee Turk Dee Turk

    You are "the most realest of all the reals! " I love your beautiful heart and the way you tell your stories so perfectly I felt every moment of it! When I was giving my daughter's 1 baby shower for her in her hometown, we were expecting quite a crowd because she was very involved in her church her hubs was on the worship team, they both taught Sunday School, she was instrumental in bringing Mops to their church and volunteered for so many things and everyone said they were coming so we prepared a ton of wonderful food all decorated so cutely, little mini pumpkin pies, a popcorn bar, amazing goodies with lots and lots of details and pretty decorations with baby pumpkins all lined up in a row with the word baby spelled out on it that I had made and just so many other wonderful things and no one came! it was embarrassing, and my daughter and her best friend who was helping me felt so bad for all the work I put into it but I don't regret one iota doing all the work and making it so special for my only daughter! We had a sweet time, and there was tons of food for us to enjoy for days on end!

  14. Image for Julie V. Julie V.

    I want a do-0ver!!! We will all come over to your house with an ornament in hand, drink hot chocolate, eat chips and dip, and laugh until we pee our pants! The real meaning of Christmas is the forgiveness in our hearts towards others, just like our Lord and Savior did for us......easier said than done! May the spirit of Christmas be with you and yours!!

  15. Image for Julie Perez Julie Perez

    What a heart warming story! I think I have one of those ornaments from 30+ years back.....now where did I pack it?!

  16. Image for Denise V Cox Denise V Cox

    Awwwww....... Karianne!!!! As usual, a sweet, tear jerking story! But a lovely one as well!! You are a true gem... a glittery, bright, sentimental ornament.. 🎄😘

  17. Image for jean miller jean miller

    Karianne, your blog is without a doubt my favorite, so today when I read your post I smiled. My husband and I were married 2 days after Christmas almost 49 years ago. I like a beautiful tree with keepsakes tucked in that may have some tarnish to them too. We didn't have a sad shower because we didn't have a shower at all. People lived out of town, people were busy, times may have been simpler. The similarities are there though, and thus the smile. I like the way you think!

  18. Image for june june

    Special story..you always find a way to just let the words flow from your heart. I have a memory tree in our family room...most of the ornaments were gifts some we have purchased. When I was a single gal in my own place...my favorite from back then is a miniature gumball machine. I paid $1 plus tax but it sits front and center every year. I have so many stories behind many of the ornaments but the one that stands out the most is the two ornaments a woman I worked with over 35 years ago gave me. Young, beautiful real estate agent...I so envied her gorgeous blonde hair. She showed up at my new place of employment to say Merry Christmas. She made me the most beautiful fruit basket and all white sparkling star ornaments I have ever seen. You could tell by the detail how much work went in to it. She apologized for it not being more, but she was having personal difficulties. I had not seen her in over six months and we were not friends outside of work, but enjoyed the time we did work together. When I looked in to her eyes I saw this deep sadness and when I hugged her she winced from pain. I had no idea as she shared she had been in an abusive relationship. I think of Meg every year when I put my tree up as those two ornaments are always hung with care. If you asked my boys...they would probably tell you "don't get her started on telling the stories behind the ornaments....we will be here all night". What I have been able to teach them over the years is that as joyful as the holidays are, that ornaments bring a history of their own. Something tells me it won't be the ornaments we gathered as a family over the years that will be as talked about with their children someday, it will be the unique ones.

  19. Image for Marion Marion

    Thanks for sharing such a tender event! I would love to see the "one" ornament that you described, you will likely never part with it! Did your Mom really round up all the neighborhood Christmas trees? Love it! Would love to see a photo of that church set-up, too! Bet it was delightful! May God bless you with a Merry Christmas!

  20. Image for Kris Kris

    I've heard you tell this story before, but I can still feel your disappointment. I had a similar story, but mind was for a baby shower--it wasn't going to be a large shower, maybe 10 people, but I think only 2 or 3 people showed up. My friends had good reasons for not being there and I'm friends with all of them to this day, but it was a sad moment for me.

  21. Image for Laurin M. Laurin M.

    I just love that story Karianne, thanks for sharing! I also love the red and white everywhere. It is most definitely my favorite Christmas combination. I agree that life is best shared with your best friend.

  22. Image for Alicia Alicia

    I was the giver of a bridal shower for a friend once upon a time that no one came to except another bridesmaid. I was the maid of honor in this wedding and my mother & I threw a bridal shower. The grooms family didn't even bother showing up. It was sad and pretty much a red flag for how that friendship ended up going.....or ending.

  23. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, what a special ornament you have there on your tree! Your Denny has been your best friend all these years and I bet you guys are still holding hands! Thanks for a wonderful story!

  24. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    I love your story! We just gave all the old, much loved Christmas ornaments to our son for his tree and for his little girls to inherit our story. Downsizing is invigorating and sad at the same time. But our granddaughters heard our story as we decorated their tree together. I’m delighted that a new tradition started and that their story will be added to ours! MERRY CHRISTMAS KariAnne!

  25. Image for Indigo Indigo

    And here I thought I was the only person on earth, who a friend threw a bridal shower for, and nobody showed up. Even tho it was over 55 years ago, from time to time, I can still feel the humiliation I felt. But more than feeling sorry for myself, I truly felt more sorry for my friend and hostess who excitedly made decorations and treats for everyone, and nobody came to enjoy. It’s an awful feeling and one that truly does not go away with passing years. But it taught me several things including always rsvp AND never miss someone else’s celebration.

    1. Image for April Driggers April Driggers

      Oh my goodness.... I don't understand how hard it is for people to RSVP? It really seems like such an afterthought now. :(

  26. Image for Linda Harris Linda Harris

    Of all the messages you have posted over the years I've been tuning in on your site, this may be the one that took me completely over......Over things that happened in the past.....things that left a stain or a scar or a pitted hole somewhere near my heart. I did a little walk back this morning... and I found quiet peace based on this one pure fact....the past is not as impactive and lasting as what is present in my life right now. Thank you Karianne L

  27. Image for karen karen

    You are the best story teller. It made my heart a little sad for that young bride, however, all those things shaped who you are today and I for one am thankful to hear your heart through the stories now. Thank you.

  28. Image for Chris Wells Chris Wells

    Now that my dear, is a lovely touching Christmas story. I have not been following you that long, maybe a year and I bought your books, but I really think your life story would make a wonderful Hallmark movie! If anyone out there is listening, this girl has an amazing story! Let’s make a movie! #blogtoscreen

  29. Image for Theresa Theresa

    What a beautiful story! I love all your stories but I just had to comment after reading this one!! I loved it! Merry Christmas!

  30. Image for Debra Matcovich Debra Matcovich

    I would love to have a flocked tree with all the same color ornaments. I refuse to do two trees. I also have a little bit of everything. The macoroni wreath my daughter made in preschool. The school bus with my sons picture in it. All the memories, that you think about as you unwrap them all. I cant lie though, the bright yellow big bird ornament is hidden in the back of the tree. Thank you for your story, it hit home.

  31. Image for Nancy Nancy

    This is another reason why I treasure your blog! And now from the far distance one can say - just a blip on the story of life. Our first ornament is an angel made of shell and gold foil wings that we bought in New Orleans weeks before we got married. She goes near the top front every year and I love her still just as I adore Ross.

  32. Image for Sue Sue

    And the most important person to attend your shower was the person holding your hand. No wonder the two of you have created so many wonderful memories from so many Christmas times together.

  33. Image for Mary S Mary S

    You are a very Lucky Lady to have that special guy who's eyes twinkled at such an embarassing time. I loved your story - truly you have taken the VERY BEST life has to offer and have the ornament to show for it. God Bless You, Karianne. And God Bless Denny too!! Love your stories - always.

  34. Image for Sandra T Sandra T

    We share a similar wedding beginning! We got married Dec. 28, 1968 (Yes, 50 years) in my hometown in rural Illinois. The snow began the day before and didn't stop for 48 hours!! The wedding took place anyway in a near empty church. Funny thing...We never noticed!!!

  35. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Oh, beautiful! Another special KariAnne tale. Love 'em all! Our tree is a conglomeration of all types of ornaments. So chockful you can almost see the tree! LOL I have a very special ornament that our second child/second son made when young (can't remember when). It gets saved for him (he's now 45 and very homesick) to put on the tree...when he is able to come home for Christmas, which is rare. So the ornament sits on my grandmother's Bible on the end table. Waiting for him to come. :(

  36. Image for Gina Gina

    "We tried to make the best of it. Truly." And you have done just that! Look at you now! Gifts on top of gifts! Blessings on top of blessings!

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

    KariAnne, thanks for sharing your heart with us through your story. You have weathered that storm well. You are such a wonderful gal to keep that ornament and still give it a place on your Christmas tree. But, this is wonderful you -- always able to accept things as they are and move on with life! Bless you for being so special! Blessings to you and your precious Denny and children!

  38. Image for Michelle Vaughan Michelle Vaughan

    Yes, the ornaments with a heart story are the best. My husband and I are newly married (and in our 60s!) So we bought an ornament to commemorate our first married Christmas. It is my new favorite. Merry Christmas!

  39. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Love your story. That's why I always try to attend any event I am invited to. I have hosted showers and parties and you get real nervous until the guests start to arrive. I have the tiny artificial tree that was in our single wide trailer 54 years ago. I still get it out and decorate it. It makes me humble and reminds me of a simpler time.

  40. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    It's amazing to me that the Lord has given you so many life-stories. What gifts these stories are, to you, and to your readers! He is good, even when it seems sad/bad. ;-) Love ya!

  41. Image for Stephanie Carrico Stephanie Carrico

    Thank your for sharing all your amazing stories with us. This is one of my favorites. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  42. Image for Peg Peg

    I love this story! Oohing and ahhing about a gift, when your heart is heavy and sad, is profound!! Not many people have that inside them. It just goes to show how very much you care about other people's feelings. You're right, you are the winner, in so, so many ways!!! xoxoxo

  43. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Merry Christmas! I also had a shower that no one attended except my mother, my future mother in law and the hostess - super awkward. But 34 years later, here we are. Still holding hand. And he's still the one :)

  44. Image for Anna Anna

    Life isn't always shiny and sparkly. But it's still ours and it's full of important moments. I'm so thankful you shared this one with us.

  45. Image for Edie Edie

    I love this story in a sad but also heart warming kind of way and I love you!! Thank you for sharing all your incredible talents with us. Merry Christmas to you and your family!❤️🎄

  46. Image for Rev. Suzanne L. Taylor Rev. Suzanne L. Taylor

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding anniversary, KariAnne and Denny. That was a hard day for you both, but, look at what the Lord has done in your lives! God bless you both and all whom you love, in Jesus' name, amen and amen.

  47. Image for Pam Pam

    Your story touched my heart! What matters is the happiness and life you have shared with your best friend! Merry Christmas to you and your family!! And by the way, I hope these same folks who didn't show up to the shower didn't get an invite to the wedding!

  48. Image for Carol Carol

    First time commenter. Long time reader. You got me with this one. Beautifully written. Tugged at every heart string. Thank you😍

  49. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    My heart hurts for that story each time I hear it...but to keep that ornament and remember where you are now...precious. ❤️

  50. Image for Karen Karen

    I love this story - it's so beautifully written. I really needed this sweet reminder as I try to decorate... Our Christmas Tree fell last year and with it so many beautiful ornaments were smashed!!!! An Ornament from my late Grandmother filled with Manger Herbs, Ornaments that had been given to us over the years for many special milestones were all smashed into what seems like a million pieces. It's amazing how memories are tied up in things. As I called my precious Mother-in-Law crying to tell her that her childhood Christmas Ornament dated 1941 was smashed! She said, "I can't believe it lasted this long!" Thank you for sharing and reminding us to have an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for everything you do! Merry Christmas!

  51. Image for sandi sandi

    Beautiful, but realistically sad, story full of love & redemption. The comments, as well, are heart-warming & touch some pain/joy deep inside us. We all have some experience we would like to "disappear" but God has planted them w/in us for our good & for His glory. They make us more aware of how life is sacred even when it seems not to be---and how to respond to Him instead of our circumstances. I admire your work, your honesty, your ability to communicate w/each single person who reads your blog. It is a gift & you are a faithful user of this gift. May your days be merry & bright!

  52. Image for Rhonda Rhonda

    How can one laugh and cry while reading one solitary blog post?? Ohmygoodness!!! Oh the other hand, what a beautiful and festive dining room you have, all decked out for Christmas! And I really think your wedding anniversary post should have pictures of your wedding. I really want to be reminded of blue eye shadow and aqua net hair! (Like I could forget!). Your sweet mom--I have the best mental image of her gathering the cast-away trees! Lol!!! Your blog--the highlight of my day!

  53. Image for Shirley Shirley

    Although I have read that story before it still made me tear up. Bless you! Thank you for another year of amazing posts.The house looks so festive. Greetings to you & all your lovely family & readers from across the pond. Merry Christmas & happy holidays.

  54. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I truly think this is the kind of thing that has made you the swee, caring, thoughtfulness person you are today. You can easily feel the pain or discomfort others are feeling because you have been there yourself. And guess what???? LOOK AT YOU NOW, GIRLFRIEND!....one of the most loved women in the blogging world.!!! And, all of us would love to be your next-door neighbor and give you an ornament! Merry Christmas!🎄🎁

  55. Image for Pat Pat

    What a sweet story, I ran through all the emotions, smiling at your mom decorating the wedding with discarded trees, to the bridal shower that no one got to enjoy sadness, and the soaring heart of discovering that priceless ornament at the bottom of the box. Thanks for sharing your story with us. xo Pat

  56. Image for Shelia Shelia

    Oh Kerianne, that is the sweetest and the saddest story! Bless your big ole heart. You tell me who those totally rude and inconsiderate people are and I’ll go box their ears for you!, How DARE they treat someone as sweet and kind and thoughtful as You and your hubby that way!! Well you’ve got better friends Now, people who care about you and your feelings. You totally make My day every time I open your blog. You have shown me that there’s still goodness and light amongst us. I had become so cynical until I found your blog. So Thank You Kerianne for that and more. You’re one of the good ones. Don’t ever change! Thank you for sharing your stories and life with us. I truly appreciate you. Have a good day!

  57. Image for Michele M Michele M

    I am in choir and we sang at the Saturday evening service tonight instead of our regular Sunday time because we have our annual Christmas party after.....per usual I got there early - I am seldom late - and as I walked into our beautiful church I saw many hands trying to clean up a wedding that had just taken place. Many of us discussed Christmas weddings - they're beautiful, and also tough to work around for everyone.......but when I found one of the bridesmaid's had left her bouquet in the ladies room I smiled. It was perfect in it's red and white - and with all the Christmas trees must've looked amazing. Beat yours did too. Sure was a sweet post. I am sad that happened to you - but it just brought you both closer together. Happy Anniversary, KA and D. Best wishes always.

  58. Image for Kristin Kristin

    I love reading your posts! The gorgeous, inspiring photos and the stories behind them always leave me uplifted. I am excited to feature it this week for Share Your Style Link Party. Thanks so much for linking up!

  59. Image for Kippi Kippi

    Such a touching story and memory. You remembered the most important guest at the shower and that's all that matters. Love your post. Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary, Kippi

Comments are closed.