December 10, 2016:
8:41am. I rolled over and groaned, burrowing deeper into my warm nest of blankets and mentally berating myself for not being able to sleep in when I finally had the chance.
Giving up on falling back to sleep, I rolled out of bed to start my day. Danny arrived shortly after, and a solid 20 minutes was spent picking out my outfit for his work Christmas party that we planned to attend that afternoon (trust me, he has more fashion sense than I do!)
11:34am. We hopped on the interstate, heading west. I had asked earlier in the week if we had anything planned for that Saturday morning, as I needed to go to the chiropractor. He said we didn’t and that we could go spend a few hours with my family before heading to the Christmas party.
12:21pm. We stopped at the mechanic’s in my hometown to pick up one of my parents’ vehicles for my mom before my appointment, so Danny went ahead to my parents’ house. (At this point, he gave a bag to my sister, Jamie, filled with supplies for her set the stage for later).
When I arrived shortly after, the house was abuzz with Christmas cookie making, football watching, and UNO playing. We spent a few hours talking and laughing with my mom, playing with my younger siblings, and
decorating cookies eating cookie dough.
Danny and I had talked earlier in the week about getting a real tree for my new house in Lincoln (I had a three-foot artificial tree that had been set up in my apartment from last year that I knew our dog wouldn’t bother), and finally decided we would get a real one this weekend from my family’s Christmas Tree Farm.
2:30 (approximately). My four younger siblings had drawn names from the local angel tree, and my mom planned to take them to the Walmart in Crete to pick out gifts, so she offered to go to the Tree Farm with us to unlock the gate and help us find a tree. My dad also planned to be at the Tree Farm, so (jumping at any opportunity to drive his old John Deere), he offered to take us out on the trailer to find our tree.
On the way to the Farm, Danny and I joked that we finally could take a few pictures together, especially since we looked decent all dressed up for the Christmas Party we were headed to right after picking out a tree (we’re horrible about remembering to take pictures together, and I had given him a hard time about us forgetting to take one together on Thanksgiving).
Because of this, Danny really pushed for me to leave my bulky winter coat in the car. As a naturally cold person, I was adamant that I was going to wear it and could take it off right before we took the picture. He kept pushing, and I finally left the coat for the sake of compromise (and because my mom had a blanket I could wrap up in!)
The two of us, my mom, and my four younger siblings hopped on the trailer as my dad steered us out into the forest of pines. A chillingly invigorating breeze yanked on my hair and stole my breath as the tractor slowly chugged along the well-worn path, and I sat cheerfully shivering and oblivious to the anticipation everyone else was feeling about what lie just around the next corner.
The old John Deere finally chugged to a halt, and we jumped off the trailer to find the Perfect Tree. I had gotten off the trailer first, so I was a few steps ahead of everyone else, evaluating the Douglas firs along the edge of the trail. As I rounded the corner at a crossroads in the trail, I saw a beautifully decorated tree.
“Aww, that’s cute! Mom, did you decorate a tree for people to see when they were out here last weekend?”
Suddenly I felt Danny grip my arm and drag me closer to the tree.
“What does it say, Brook?”
My shivering body suddenly felt flush as I neared the tree, and a goofy grin took over my face as I read the question I hadn’t expected to be asked for a few more months:
A stunning ring hung on a ribbon directly below the question, and Danny untied it before dropping to one knee.
“Brook Nicole Rakow, just like you wanted, with your family and friends here [at this point I looked up and saw our friend Taylor hiding behind a tree with her camera!] will you marry me?”
And of course I said yes!
My body was suddenly shivering from adrenaline and excitement, as I hugged my new fiance and turned around to see my camouflage-clad brothers, sister-in-law, sister, and sister’s boyfriend crawling out from their lookout at the edge of the treeline to join the rest of my family.
I was then informed that, no, there wasn’t actually a Christmas party to attend, they just needed an excuse for me to not wear sweatpants without raising suspicion! (apparently Danny hadn’t officially decided he was proposing on Saturday until the Wednesday before, at which point he texted my mom to let her know and they managed to come up with a plan in two days).
My mom says I’m a nosy person (I personally prefer saying that I feel the need for preparedness…) so they weren’t sure if they would be able to pull all of this off without me finding out–but props to Danny and the whole family for their secretive involvement because even after initially seeing the decorated tree, I didn’t put two and two together until I was five feet in front of it!
I can’t tell you how excited I am to enter this stage of preparing to marry my best friend and to continue to grow together. We appreciate your prayers for us individually and as a couple during this time!
Now, keep scrolling to see the proposal so beautifully captured by my dear friend, Taylor Schulz! 🙂