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Joylyn R.

My fiancé Thomas and I are always looking for something fun to do. Our years together have been filled with spontaneous dates downtown for milkshakes and people-watching as well as surprise picnics in the park. So, when he mentioned in passing that he had won some free tickets to ZooLights at the Denver Zoo, I smiled, nodded and sort of forgot about it. Two weeks later, on December 21, upon arriving home from work that morning, Thomas reminded me that we were going to see ZooLights that night. In all honesty, I looked outside at the snow falling and wished that we could go on another night.

We were both coming home from work that morning, and between the long work hours and upcoming holiday time with both of our large families, I was exhausted. It was a very busy day with me wrapping gifts and cleaning the house for our incoming relatives and Thomas running around doing errands. As the evening arrived, the temperatures dropped, and we bundled up in our warmest, brightest cold-weather clothes and left for the zoo. Upon arriving, Thomas sent me to get a hot chocolate while he picked up our tickets at will call. I insisted on staying with him, and when he bought two tickets instead, I narrowed my eyes a bit. Once inside the zoo, Thomas said that he had forgotten the camera and left me to meander for a bit.

The evening was cold but filled with laughter, animal-watching and cuddling to keep warm. The lights and soft snow falling were magical. While returning to the front gate, we stopped at an open area, covered from the snow that housed Santa and his elves. Out in front, a small crowd had gathered to watch the fire performers, but we wandered inside to see the accompanying ice sculptures that were being created. Holiday music was playing, children were whispering their Christmas wishes to Santa and several beautiful animals were being carved from sparkling ice with gorgeous red and white roses piled around them. While I was wondering aloud what the flowers were for, Thomas bent down and picked up several of them, handed them to me and said, "They are here for you. " "What? " I replied.

Thomas then carefully removed his gloves and deftly dropped them to the ground, bending down on one knee to pick them up. He then presented me with a sparkly jewel meant for my hand. He said, "Here, on the longest night, on the winter solstice, I want to tell you how much I love you, how happy you make me, and how happy I want to make you for years to come. Will you marry me? " I gasped, "No, really? I mean yes! " Oh, how we laughed! The entire staff in the pavilion came over to congratulate us, as Thomas had been planning this whole idea with their help. We got some goofy, impromptu engagement pictures in Santa's sleigh with our red and rosy cheeks. Upon leaving, we enjoyed a glass of champagne back at our car in some glasses engraved with our engagement date. We watched ZooLights in the soft snow, just giggling with delight for the upcoming magic ahead of us.

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