My family made it for Thanksgiving. After a two-day water loss scare, our water came back on just in time for me to tell them, yes, go ahead and make the trip down. However, when the eight people in my home woke up on Thursday morning, the water was gone again, and has yet to return. We survived.
But this is a different story.
Last night we all gathered, more or less, around the table in Maxine's front room. Thanksgiving was different this year--quieter. Instead of the usual chaos that marks a family holiday, we found ourselves eating together, all in the same room, all at the same time, chit chatting, teasing, and enjoying each other's company. My family dominated the table--Mom and Dad, Sarah and Lindsey, Paul and Lauren--and Chris and Tiffany occupied the two left over seats. Max and Bill sat on the couch behind us, and Aunt Sara folded her tall frame into the chair in the corner.
As we finished up our meal, Tiffany, the family sentimentalist, made a suggestion: "I know it's kind of cheesy, but what if we all say what we're thankful for?" Chris volunteered to go first, and one by one each person in the room offered their thanks, mostly for family, shelter and delicious food.
My turn came second to last, with only Paul left. I fought tears as I thought about what I would say, but when the time came I was composed enough to say, "I'm thankful for you guys, my new family. I'm thankful that you're here for me as my own family moves to Arizona." (I might have included the term 'abandoned')
"You're jumping the gun a bit on the whole family thing, aren't you?" Paul teased.
And I shot back, "you know that if we break up they're keeping me and sending you packing!"
He turned in his chair to face me as he took his turn. "I'm thankful for second chances," he began.
"And third, and fourth!" Chris couldn't help but add.
Paul continued, "and I'm thankful that the Johnson family is here to share this day with us. And I would be especially thankful if..."
Paul put his hand in his pocket, and all of a sudden we were alone in the room. He took my left hand in his own and began to remove my promise ring. It stuck, of course, so I took it off myself, and as he slipped a new ring on my finger, he continued, "Will you?"
With tears streaming down my cheeks I retorted, "You didn't ask me!"
"Will you be my wife?"
My arms flew around his neck and I pressed my cheek to his as I answerd, "Yes! Of course I will!"
To be honest, I have no idea what was going on around me. I was vaguely aware that Tiffany had eaten dinner with her camera in her lap and was now snapping pictures. My mom's eyes glistened as she grinned at me, and suddenly I realized that I had been set up...everyone knew. And it worked--I was completely shocked and surprised.
A family proposal isn't right for everybody, but at that moment, with almost all of the people that I love best present, the timing was perfect. I've always known that I wouldn't just be marrying Paul--I'd be marrying his whole family. And I couldn't be happier.