Growing up, and even when we began dating, I (Jeannine) hated New Year’s Eve. As a teenager, I would always spend it at home, munching on the candy from my Christmas stocking and vowing the New Year would be different – and it never was.
When Chuck and I started dating in 2002, New Year’s Eve was still a sore spot for me. I was underage (19) and Chuck was 24 and in a band, he always had a show that I couldn’t attend. It took a couple years before we could officially celebrate together at midnight, in public. Even then it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was just another day, and often it was a depressing one, that brought back bad memories.
In 2011, that mindset changed dramatically, thanks to my Handsome Husband.
At this point in time we had been back together dating for 4 years, and living together 16 months.
A little background about Chuck. He hates public displays of affection (PDA). I always imagined our engagement story would be an intimate one. A birthday present (since my birthday was so close to the holidays) or just the two of us opening our Christmas presents together. So New Year’s Eve 2010 (celebrating 2011), when we were set to attend a large party at his family-run, private club, I figured once again the New Year would come (and go) without a ring. It was probably for the best as my gel manicure had decided to peel that day anyway.
As we set out to go to the party Chuck made me wait in the car as he ran upstairs to grab his iPod in our apartment. He was really getting the ring. My grandmother gave me a ring when I was 12 and I always imagined that would be my engagement ring. After we lived together for some time, the ring made its way to our computer desk. Chuck felt he needed to get me out of the apartment and then swipe the ring so I wouldn’t notice it was missing.
We arrived at the party and there are a ton of people. We ate, mingled with family and friends, danced to music provided by his cousin Todd, the DJ. As the ball dropped, we kissed and then we turned to hug and kiss our friends and family, wishing them a Happy New Year.
I wasn’t paying attention to where Chuck was until the music stopped. I looked up and Chuck was standing at the front of the room with the microphone in his hand.
His cousin Todd looked puzzled. At this point I was standing at the back of the room, with a family member, who in their slurred speak told me, “If he doesn’t propose to you soon, I will.” I had to quiet them down as the room became quiet.
Chuck started his speech with “Some of you hoped, but many of you never thought this would happen, it has been 8 years…” My brain frantically went in two directions 1.) “OMG he is proposing!!” 2.) “Oh goodness, he is really drunk. This sounds like a proposal, but this might be a drunken rant and it is going to be a major let down”. I tried to keep my composure thinking what else could possibly be 8 years as he continued a romantic speech, that I fail to remember. Then he said “Jeannine, please come up here.” I was frozen, I couldn’t move.
Literally, the people around me melted away and I was in this white fog. I was in complete shock.
His Aunt came over and took my arm and pulled me to the front of the room. He put the microphone down, got on one knee and opened an empty ring box. (The ring had actually fallen out and we found it on the floor after). There were no tears, just utter shock. I had settled on the idea he would never propose, the ring would sit on the desk forever and we would be domestic partners. I managed to squeak out a ‘Yes’. Then family, friends and complete strangers hugged and kissed us. As his Aunt hugged me she asked to see the ring and that is when we realized it was on the floor.
Unfortunately my parents and his brother weren’t there because Chuck kept it a secret from everyone for the element of surprise. He didn’t even ask my Father for my hand in marriage. Chuck knows I inherited my horrible secret-keeping skills from my parents.
A little while later brother and girlfriend came flying through the door. I was lifted off my feet and swirled me around. The rest of the night is a blur but I remember lots of hugs, kissed and people asking if we had set a date – within hours of being proposed too. By the end of the night we had settled on Spring/Summer 2012.
Throughout the night as people asked to see the ring I would show them my fist. This was because the ring was too big and I had to grip it to keep it straight and because I was forced to quickly peel off the left over gel manicures for decent presentation. I am sure the clean-up crew wondered where the red sparkle paint came from.
It truly was a magical night and completely changed my feelings towards New Years Eve. I love recollecting this story because he managed to take my breathe away and turn years of hatred into one of the best memories of my life.
The best part is that our engagement date is Jan. 1, 2011 or 1.1.11. Prior to being engaged I would always tell him to make a wish at 11:11.
Little did I know my dreams would come true with those same 4 digits.
Happy New Year From Our Home To Yours!
Our First Dance Wedding Song: