In a video that's been viewed over 1.9 million times since the time it was posted, the son shared the embarrassing story behind the now-family heirloom.
A 23-year-old from southeast Michigan went viral on social media last year after sharing how his crafty mom made the most of her investment in the braces he had as a teen. Austin, who goes by @austin9943 on TikTok, left netizens quite impressed with his mom's resourcefulness and creativity. He revealed that she'd turned the old metal brackets into Christmas ornaments in memory of him finally removing it and—most importantly—the $6000 she spent on them. In a video that has been viewed over 1.9 million times since the time it was posted, Austin shared the embarrassing story behind the now-family heirloom.
"So, I had braces when I was a kid, and after four and a half years, I finally went to have them taken off," Austin says in the video, recalling the day in 2014 when his teeth were finally brace-free. "And the dentist, like, popped them all off and then put the braces on the tray. And when we were done, she, like, picks up the tray and starts to walk away, and my mom stops her and she goes, 'Uh, no.'" Utterly confused and slightly embarrassed, the then-teen asked his mom what she was doing.
"Austin," he recalled her saying, "we paid $6,000 for those braces. I'm not letting her throw them away." Speaking to BuzzFeed News after his video went viral, Austin shared how the dentist reacted to the unusual turn of events. "The dentist thought it was kind of weird but had no problem putting them in a bag for us," he said. "In all honesty, I wasn’t as embarrassed as I claim to be in the video. Our family isn’t shy to speak up — not in a Karen sort of way — but by being respectful and speaking up."
Later that year, he said, his mom surprised him with a gift: a tree-shaped Christmas ornament that featured his old braces as a string of lights. "So now I have this Christmas ornament," Austin says in the video. He revealed that his family now decorates with the unusual Christmas tree ornament every year during the holidays and he decided to make the TikTok video thinking "I bet a lot of people don't do this," when he came across the ornament in storage. He was right. Many who saw the video affirmed that this was a rather creative idea from his mom.
"Omg I work in orthodontics and I've never had someone ask me to keep their braces. Maybe I'll start giving them away in December for ornaments," one person wrote in the comments. Addressing the spirited reactions to his video, Austin said that while he wasn't too surprised by most of the reactions, he hadn't expected to reach so many moms on the platform. "I've had about 3,000 moms comment that it’s a great idea and that they wished or plan on doing this for their kids," he said. "I think it mainly went viral because it’s just a strange idea that most people don’t think about doing. But Gen X moms love keepsakes, and getting your braces off is somewhat of a milestone in kids' lives... which is the point of a Christmas ornament." As for his own mom, Austin shared that she "was very happy" to know she's inspired other parents to do the same.