Christmas Eve 1994 was bitter cold. Snow had fallen and was icing over on the roads. It was the first Christmas I would spend with my now in-laws. Their home was the epitome of Christmas:cozy fire, home-made decorations, laughter, happy bickering.
I was pretty nervous given my inexperience with such functionality in a family. My comfort came in the way of the amazing guy next to me. We had known each other for 18 months. We studied together, laughed together, watched TV together and inevitably fell in love. He was fond of quoting seemingly meaningless facts and somewhere on 95 decided to tell me about the mating rituals of lobsters. “You know,” he said, “Lobsters mate for life.” Wow, my inside voice said, so glad to hear that before our big lobster dinner tonight! We arrived at Chris’ parents house in the late afternoon. To my surprise, Chris announced that we would not be joining the family for Christmas Eve dinner but would meet them later at church. It turns out he had a different plan. Across the table, his eyes twinkled at me. I knew in my heart that whatever he had in store was going to change my life forever.
All through dinner at a posh Chester County eatery, he seemed nervous and distracted. Halfway through our meal, Chris insisted that he had to go “get something from the car.” He returned carrying an awkward, pathetically wrapped box. “You are allowed to open one gift tonight” he announced. I felt smug knowing that under the tree back at his house I had a beautifully wrapped pair of $100 hiking boots. That was the single most expensive gift I had ever given anyone….whatever was in his silly lopsided box did not stand a chance against my top of the line Asolos. As I reached across for the box, he quickly slapped my hand–”Not yet!”
A quick trip down the road and we arrived at Longwood Gardens. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We walked around admiring the light displays our feet crunching in the patches of snow. All of a sudden, we were veering off the path. Chris was dragging me by one hand, balancing his goofy box in the other. We slipped and scrambled and laughed up a hill. We were just giddy at being where we weren’t supposed to be. Suddenly, he stopped turned around and ordered “Here.” At first I wasn’t sure if he meant “Here” we are or “Here” is your gift. Since he stood breathlessly thrusting the thing at me, I assumed he meant both.
That box was HEAVY and unbalanced. I nearly dropped it and watched Chris’ face blanch. Bit by bit I peeled the tape and paper to reveal an old shoe box. Again, my mind went to the beautiful pair of boots under the tree. gingerly, I lifted the lid.
That’s it?? All that lead up for a —SNOW GLOBE??? “Um it’s beautiful I stammered…thank you.” His eyes were laughing but his mouth was a straight line. ”Wait, that’s it?” He feigned horror. “Let me see that box.”
With the ease of one that had practiced this move hundreds of times, he grabbed my box, twirled around and landed in the snow…exactly balanced on one knee.
The ring was taped to the bottom of the box.
“You are my lobster” he whispered. “Will you marry me?” In a flurry of tears and hugs and slipping, I screamed at the top of my lungs: “YES!!!!’
That decision, made in less than 10 seconds without a spreadsheet, consultation, or sleepless night, was by far, the single best one of my entire life