The next day, Christmas Eve, we walked from our hotel to my mom's house for breakfast. We then went hermit crab-shopping, which will be the subject of another story. After the crabaganza, I hunted around in the fridge for some lunch. I found some bagel bites, and heated them up for M and I to share.
There were only nine bagel bites, a rather paltry meal, but we were going to have a big dinner after the children's Christmas pageant at church. M ate five, then proclaimed himself stuffed. "I think I'll go for a walk to work off lunch," he said. "Are you interested?"
I shrugged. Full after five bagel bites? Yeah right.... He probably just wanted to get away from the family for awhile. But that was no problem, I could understand the desire for some alone time.
We left the house to discover a light freezing rain, a gray sky, and some wind. Fortunately we were both dressed for winter. He asked me, "Isn't the lake nearby? Want to go there?"
"It's pretty close," I said. "But I should warn you that the closer we get to the water, the colder and windier it will get."
"That's all right," he said, "I have a hood."
Okay, I always enjoy the lakefront view. I pulled my wool cap on tighter, and we headed toward the lake.
It did indeed get windier, and I had to hold my hand on my head several times to keep my hat from blowing away. The freezing rain stung our cheeks, and we tucked our heads down into the wind. Across a street, through a small park, across another street, through a larger park (where we tromped through a combination of snow, slush, and puddles that challenged the waterproofness of our boots), then over a bridge -- and we were at Lake Michigan.
It was hard to believe it was just a lake, with the whitecaps crashing on the shore. We picked our way across the partly-frozen sand to get closer to the water. The sky was steel gray, the sleet still minor, and we had the beach to ourselves. It was beautiful. I pulled out my cameraphone and took his picture, then I had him take mine was well.
After the photo-taking, we stood side-by-side and looked at the water. "Does your rule still apply for lakes?" he asked me. "Do you have to get your feet wet?"
"No, only for oceans. I'm relieved, since that looks awfully cold. However I do feel that if I go all the way to an ocean shore, I'm obligated to dip my toe in it."
I shivered, and he stood behind me and rubbed warmth into my arms. "Are you happy," he asked. I nodded. "Are you really happy?"
I turned around and smiled at him. "Yes, I really am."
"Are you happy enough to be my wife?" He pulled out a box with something shiny, and got down on one knee. "Karen, will you marry me?"
I was stunned. This was completely unexpected. I pulled off my hat to look at him more easily and fumbled for words. "Awww... yeah... yes. Yes!"
Then I think we just started babbling at one another. I'm not sure what either of us said. I was worried that the knee of his jeans was getting wet, and I wasn't sure how to make him stand up again. I held his face in my hands, there was kissing and hugging and stuff, and babbling that is all very fuzzy in my head.
Eventually he stood up and put the ring on my finger. It's beautiful. I was thrilled. He took a photo of me, then we attempted to take a photo with both of us in it. A very cold jogger went by, and we interrupted his run to ask him to take a photo of us.
Eventually my hands were freezing, and we were wet, and it was time to head back to my mom's house. I reluctantly put my gloves on over my lovely new ring and we walked home to share the news. It's been a wonderful holiday!