Monday, December 24, 2012

a Christmas Eve engagement story

Steve’s and my relationship was mostly long-distance. I was in college in Chicago, and he was in college in Pennsylvania. Christmas break was exciting because we could live in the same town for three weeks, and see each other every day. On Christmas Eve 2008, Steve spent the majority of his day last-minute shopping. He asked me if I would like to go out to dinner, or get dessert with him after church that evening. We had been dating for a year and a half, and he had never asked me to a late night dinner before. So, like any other girl with a serious boyfriend around the holidays, I began wondering, “Is this the night?” We met up at our cozy little church at 7 pm, where we listened to the story of Jesus’ birth, and sang “Silent Night”, everyone holding tiny lit candles in the dark.

When it was time to go, my family was heading out to one Christmas party, while Steve’s family was leaving to go to another Christmas party. Though we were invited to both, I still had my mind set on Steve and me going to a restaurant by ourselves. (If he was going to ask me an important question, I thought it would probably happen when we were alone.) Unfortunately, we didn't realize there are no restaurants open after 8 on Christmas Eve. So we ended up in Steve’s parents’ house, babysitting his 5-year-old niece while she slept (so her parents could go to the first Christmas party), and we played Guitar Hero—not exactly what I had in mind. At this point, I gave up on the idea that it was “the night.” Steve’s family came home from the party, and we left for my mom’s house. 

It is Scandinavian tradition to have Christmas dinner and open presents on Christmas Eve. It is something we’ve done my whole life, and I love it. My mom, my stepfather, my stepfather’s son Tim, Steve, and I gathered around the tree, distributing the gifts, and taking turns opening them. Once everything was unwrapped, Steve said he had something in the car, and asked if I would come down to the basement. He went out the front door, while I watched him from the window. There was a lot of ice out that night (his car actually got stuck to the driveway when he left, and had to be pushed out of its spot), and he fake-skated his way to the car to get a laugh from me. 

When he came back inside, he had a medium-sized gift bag in his hand, and we went downstairs. We sat down on the couch, he handed me the bag, and inside was a little photo album. I began going through the pictures from our whole relationship, while he told me the story to go with them. It began with, “This is a story about a boy, who fell in love with a girl beautiful beyond belief…”

After many pages, I found photos of us that we had taken in front of different bodies of water. Two of our very first pictures together were self-shots on Lake Chautauqua and Lake Erie. After that, we had started a little goal to take photos of ourselves in front of every lake, river, or ocean we visited—us by Lake Michigan, us by Niagara Falls, etc. 

After those photos, the album went blank. Steve began to ask, “But where is the Atlantic Ocean? Where is Lake Superior? Where is Lake Ontario, the Pacific Ocean, the Finger Lakes?” There was then a photo of us making disappointed faces. 

He told me, “It is going to take a long time to travel to all of those places.” I turned the page again, and there was a photo of the brand-new chapel at the camp that we both worked at for many summers. 

He got down on one knee beside the couch, pulled out a ring, and asked me, “Rachel Julia, will you marry me?” 



  1. OMG! That is so sweet!

  2. Rachel! I'm not sure I knew this story. Thank you soooo much for sharing! What a fun engagement! - Brianna

  3. This is sooooo sweet! It's always awesome when the boys just know every detail that makes our hearts skip a beat!

    What a sweetie!


  4. What a sweet engagement story!


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