02 Jan Our Daughter is Engaged!
It was Christmas Day, after the morning madness of excitement, gift giving, and the chaos that comes afterward. It was my favorite part of Christmas, the calm after the storm, when the energy level dips and everyone settles into a comfortable happiness. I enjoy most just reveling in the joy that is this day, and in the togetherness of having everyone home.
Our Daughter is Engaged!
Looking back now, I am a little ashamed of the bit of irritation I felt at having to get my camera out on Christmas, during my favorite, lazy part of the day. I just wanted to sit and soak in the magic of the holiday, before it flew away to hide into next year. But I understand that I now share my adult children with other families, and Helen and Matt needed to get going to his parent’s celebration. And his mom wanted a Christmas photo of the two of them, on Christmas Day, for her scrapbook.
Or so I thought.
Helen didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave, so I wasn’t in a hurry to take the photo. But Ed had already scoped out the light, and we decided that the front porch would be best. Then I noticed my camera was already sitting out on the table.
“Did you get my camera out?” I asked Ed.
“Yeah, I just thought we should be ready,” he replied. “I know they want to get going soon.”
“But I need to put a card in it.” I was still being reluctant.
“I already did,” he said with a shrug, being more helpful than usual.
Why didn’t he understand that I didn’t want to “work” on Christmas? Why didn’t he understand that Helen and Matt would most likely leave after the photo was done? I didn’t want Helen to leave yet, and I felt that stalling on the photo would keep them around a bit longer. But Ed seemed eager to get it done, so I unwillingly picked up my camera and headed for the front door.
I placed them in the best light, then went through my usual litany of poses. They are pros, after years of having me photograph them, and we got through several in just a minute or two.
“Okay, that should do it for a couple good ones,” I said, already removing my camera’s shoulder strap and starting to head back inside.
Ed interrupted me, “Let’s do a fun silly one! How about back to back?”
I shot him a severe look. Was he serious? Not only was I ready to be done, but he knows I hate the cheesy, silly poses! Back to back? What was he thinking? I scowled at him for a long moment before turning back for one more photo.
Helen was already assuming the “gangster” stance, when I saw Matt drop to his knee. Then he reached for his pocket.
I was unable to stop my automatic reaction. “Oh shit!” escaped my mouth before I could silence it.
All at once, reality hit me as a buzzing filled my ears. In one instant, I knew everything. I knew there was no scrapbook. I knew that Ed was in on it. I knew that he didn’t really want a back to back photo (thank God). And I knew that no one told me in advance about the most important day of my daughter’s life, which, in all honesty, was probably a good thing.
Most importantly, I knew that I was here, holding my camera, for this moment. So with tears streaming down my face, I began snapping photos at lightening speed. Ed told me later that he was afraid I would stop clicking once I figured out what was happening, but my pro photographer habits took over and I got the job done.
Helen turned around in confusion, wondering why Matt’s back wasn’t against hers, and probably wondering what my expletive was all about. She looked down at him and through the viewfinder, I watched the shock take over her face. She immediately burst into tears, but managed to squeak out a “yes.” Matt put the ring on her finger, then hugged her close as she sobbed into his shoulder.
He finally broke away, looked at us with a sheepish smile, and said, “she said okay.”
We called the rest of the family out to tell them the news and examine the ring. Ed had pulled out his phone and recorded the whole thing, including my audible reaction, on video. He passed it around so that everyone could share the moment, then we all stood around chattering excitedly with stupid grins plastered on our faces.
Ed told us that he had known for 3 days, when Matt had come to him asking for Helen’s hand. We learned that they had planned the whole thing out, and that Matt had wanted everyone to be surprised. Ed is terrible at keeping secrets, and I’m very difficult to surprise, but somehow, they pulled it off.
So, it turns out that we all got the best Christmas gift ever. We may have lost a family member this year, but we’re now gaining one. With one unforgettable gesture, Matt has brought so much love and meaning to this Christmas, in a year when we all needed it most.
Now to plan a wedding!
I thought Matt held it together pretty well, keeping calm when Helen and I were falling apart!
Laughing and crying.
Still doesn’t believe it’s real!
Thank you, Matt, for being a constant presence in our lives, and for reminding us that Christmas is for love, celebration, and making new memories. We love you!