The other night Donnie and I planned a romantic date night. The plan was to have a little dinner and then go see this tree.
It doesn't look like much in the dark, but this is one of the oldest trees in Dallas. It sits in a very fancy neighborhood, the kind that would make Kevin McCallister's part of town look shabby. It is a giant pecan tree, and every year the people of the town drape its huge canopy in colorful lights. It's such a spectacle that when we passed this same tree 12 years ago, on our way to dinner, I asked my then-boyfriend Donnie if we could stop and see it. We'd been dating for more than five years, and I thought it would be romantic to stop and share a kiss under such a gorgeous tree. But he didn't stop. We were in the middle of a date, and we had places to be. We went on to have dinner at a special restaurant, we saw a musical version of our favorite movie (It's a Wonderful Life), and then without me realizing where he was going, he took me back across town to the tree.
I stood under the tree, overwhelmed by the beauty of the night and the lights. He gave me a kiss.
And then he asked me to marry him.
This is a special tree.
Since that night, we've done our best to get back to it every couple of years to see how it's doing. This year we happened to make it to the actual lighting ceremony. The only problem was, all of our sitters were busy. So our romantic night out turned into a family thing.
It's okay. There were tons of people there with their families. It was more of an event than we'd realized. They even had Starbucks there serving cocoa.
After what seemed like forever, the Mayor came out and introduced the oldest lady in this fancy part of town. She was adorable (103 yrs old) and was in charge of flipping the switch.
And that's when it happened.
I looked up at the beautiful lights, and looked around at my beautiful kids taking in the sight, and I suddenly realized that everything that I love, everything that I hold dear, everything that I currently am, and even every hope that I have for our future...it all started right here. Twelve years ago. Under this tree. A question. An answer. A kiss. It was the start of our family.
Donnie caught my eye and laughed a little when he saw the tears welling up. (He sees this a lot.) But I couldn't helped being overwhelmed as I traced back over the road we'd traveled since that first night under our tree.