In all my single years, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about the kind of man I would marry, or what our wedding might look like, or how the furniture might be arranged in our first home. But I have to confess that I never spent a lot of time wondering about the proposal, or the ring. They just didn’t stir my imagination, no matter how hard the rom-coms tried to get me to dream. It was always much more about the happily ever after.
So, when I met the man who would become my husband and we started dreaming about the life we’d build together, we didn’t talk much about how it would officially begin – and I certainly had no expectations that it would happen at Christmas.
When David asked me what I imagined that moment would look like or what kind of ring I wanted, all I could come up with was, “I don’t know… I like vintage rings, and I don’t want something that looks like everyone else’s.” He said that was good enough, and told me that we were probably looking at a February engagement, January if we were lucky.
With February firmly planted in my mind, I turned all my attention to Christmas. We were long distance at the time, and scheduled to have a full week together right after Christmas – which seemed like a lot of time, but was quickly booked solid with events with family and friends and, of course, date nights.
One of our favorite spots to start our dates had always been this one chapel. I took David there the first time he came to town, and it became a priority for every visit. On Monday night, December 29th, we parked the car and walked in. David sent me in ahead so he could ‘use the restroom’ – in reality, run out to the car to get a few things. He came in and we spent a few minutes enjoying the quiet chapel together. At least, that’s what I was doing… apparently, he was just trying to calm his nerves. And suddenly, he looked up and realized all the other patrons had left, and we were the only people in the room.
He leaned in and whispered, “Remember how I said there were eleven Christmas presents? I wasn’t lying.” We’d exchanged our gifts as soon as he’d arrived, and yet David was handing me a stack of pocket-size notebooks – in which he had written down the daily spiritual reflections we’d shared with each other ever since we’d started dating. They had always helped us feel connected across state lines, and helped keep our relationship centered on our faith. Tears started stinging in my eyes, and then fell for real when he pulled out a velvet bracelet box, inside which was a white gold bracelet with a small ruby raindrop and a tiny umbrella charm (we’ve got this thing about umbrellas… but that’s a story for another time).
“Now,” he said, “it might be hard to see in here, but there’s an engraving on the umbrella.” I turned the charm over, but it was too small to see in the dimly lit chapel (or maybe because of my tears, let’s be real). “I thought that might happen,” David said, “so I also got you this.” He pulled out one more small notebook, with an umbrella printed on the cover, along with the initials ‘RAL’ – which are my initials now that we’re married. But in that moment, they didn’t make any sense. He said the ring wouldn’t be ready until February… and a girl can’t wear a bracelet with her married initials on it when she isn’t even engaged yet…
And when I looked up from the notebook, he was on one knee, holding a ring. I was so stunned that all I could say was, “Is this for real?!”
He laughed, and replied, “Of course it’s for real, I promised you I would never fake-propose… I was going to wait a few days to do this, but I thought we could RING in the New Year a few days early,” he began (God bless my husband and his affinity for puns). And then he told me that I am the best gift he’s ever been given, his favorite human, and the only person he’d want to chase after heaven with. I’m told I said yes before he finished asking.
And now, a year later, we’re still considered newlyweds, decorating our house for Christmas before we’ve really finished unpacking. I’ve never thought of Christmas as an especially romantic time – but from now on, it will always be one of the most wonderful times of the year.
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