Annie F. Downs
About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at and follow her at @anniefdowns.

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. Annie,
    Love your story…I have lots of stories…there’s the Christmas wreath, with macaroni noodles on it for decoration, that my son made in preschool. I made the mistake of hanging it on a lower branch. It looked lovely until the dog thought it would make a tasty snack and meticulously chewed each of the noodles off. My daughter is 25 and her “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament with picture must hang front and center on the tree. Her brother’s similar ornament is strategically moved each year to the lower almost back side of the tree. It’s been a running joke for years that has continued…lots of good Christmas memories with ornaments.

  2. I was a fussy and rather obsessed decorator of the Christmas tree. Everyone knew my ways while I lived at home with my parents and once I got married, my husband obliged every Christmas. I was picky about the type of ornament, colour and placement of the ornament. How things change! On the 1st of December, I sat back and watched as my 7 & 5 year olds took over the decorating of the tree… And my favourite ornaments now? They’re the handmade ones in all shapes, sizes and colours placed any which way by two pairs of little hands!

  3. My many favorite ornament stories would take much too long but I want to say how good it is to read about how much you care for these college students and how much you pour into their lives, we need more hearts like yours for our young people!

  4. What a fantastic story! We call that kind of exchange a White Elephant here (no idea why). My old small group used to hold one every year. We once went home with a collection of old cell phones, which my young children loved! We sent people home with a board and nails, a “deck starter kit,” the year my husband missed many meetings when he replaced our old deck. Love those silly games. Your New Direction ornament would have fit right in!

  5. its been 5 months since my 15 yr old daughters brain injury, to her this will be her first Christmas. since i couldn’t find an ornament that said first Christmas without it being for a baby or a couple newly married, we will make our ornaments this year, creating them to say what we want. maybe we will make this a new tradition.?

  6. We grew up with a group of families that gathered primarily for an annual holiday Christmas party – these were my preschool classmates, so we all went to different schools as we grew, but our parents remained friends. The annual christmas party continued through our akward teenage years, high school, and college. The year I got engaged, I was the first to bring “someone new” to the gathering. That year, each “kid” (now grown) surprised my now-husband with an ornament to say “Welcome to the Christmas Family.”

    I’m now 35. This year will be our first without an offical party as marriage, kids, in-laws, and other obligations mean fewer folks making it “home” for the holidays, but those ornaments are still prominent on my tree!

  7. Thank you for helping me to remember “what Christmas is all about” like buying a pair of shoes that are the right size for someone else that doesn’t have quite enough money to purchase them on their own. It’s about seeing those COOL homemade ornaments from when we were kids & sharing them with our own children. It’s about remembering past holidays with loved ones that are no longer with us for they have moved on to that eternal place with only peace and goodwill forever. Thank you for the reminder to stop and take some time to make new memories TODAY!

    Theresa, I had a closed head injury 24yrs ago this 12/24. I’d be happy to talk with you about your daughter. Maybe it’d help to talk with someone who has ‘been there done that.’ Feel free to email me at

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  8. I have 3 of them. One is a paper up angel with Huge yellow head and wings, a mason jar lid wreath, and a clothes pin butterfly. All made in kindergarten by my 3 grown children. Love love love em.

  9. Since my son was in kindergarten they would make ornaments for the Christmas tree. I have a wooden rudolph reindeer with a painted red nose, a foil bell, christmas felt tree with his grade one picture on it, a christmas stocking, painted wreath and a beautiful painted ball with glitter on it from the 4th grade. Those ornaments mean so much more to me than the ones I purchased for the tree. My son is now 19 and in college and as I don’t feel up to putting up the tree this year this reminds me of just how important it is to see those ornaments that he brought home to his mummy out of love…

  10. Thank you Annie for loving on those girls so much. They will never forget you or the lessons you taught.

    I find homemade ornaments the best. It means the person took time to make something they thought was beautiful.

  11. Love your story, so funny!

    We have been putting a 2″ monkey dressed as Santa on our treetop for 30 years. He was
    99 cents at CVS. We purchased him because we had no money and couldn’t afford a tree topper. . .now he is a well loved tradition. Such a memory.