In Times Newsletter, a Six-Word Proposal

In Times Newsletter, a Six-Word Proposal

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

When we asked our readers to tell us what they were grateful for in six words, we were expecting to see certain themes.

Health, faith, love, family, marriage. Check.

Pets, grandparents, medicine, science, sunshine. Check.

Some people were grateful for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Others for President Trump. Some were grateful for Thanksgiving food; others were grateful for delivery people.

The author Larry Smith popularized the six-word memoir during Thanksgiving one year, a twist on a challenge that somebody may or may not have issued to Ernest Hemingway.

This Thanksgiving, we — staff members of The Morning, The New York Times’s daily newsletter — invited our readers to do a version of the exercise. We wanted to share the joys and gratitude that managed to poke through a year dominated by suffering.

And you, our readers, delivered.

Together, our team sifted through more than 10,000 submissions — many funny, some sad, all heartfelt. Then, we found one of the most consequential and life-changing questions anyone can ask.

There it was, neatly packed into six words: “Will you marry me, Taylor Hollenkamp?”

After a flurry of excitement, we reached out to check if it was real — and if Lauren Few, who submitted the proposal, truly wanted to get engaged in The New York Times. Absolutely, she said.

Ms. Few, 35, had known within weeks of starting their relationship that she had found her person.

“When we were first getting serious, Lauren said: ‘I would marry you now, but for everyone else’s sake, we should wait at least a year before we get engaged,’” Ms. Hollenkamp, 35, said. “We made it 11 months.”

When Ms. Few saw the six-word challenge, she said, she almost felt it was a sign. Her father, Harry Few, who died in 2014, loved Hemingway. Ms. Few said this felt like the perfect way to honor his

As we waited to learn the outcome of the proposal, subscribers drummed their collective fingers on Twitter.

“WAIT will someone tell me if the proposal in @nytimes briefing was accepted?! Taylor Hollenkamp, what did you say?!” one person wrote. “Who is #TaylorHollenkamp?” another demanded. “Did you say yes? We need to know!!!”

Well before Thanksgiving, Ms. Few had spoken to Ms. Hollenkamp’s family members, who gave their blessing. She had cleared the ring with two of Ms. Hollenkamp’s closest friends.

Unable to sleep, Ms. Few woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving. She grabbed the engagement ring, a lavender sapphire, and Ms. Hollenkamp’s phone, in case an excited friend called with ill-timed congratulations. She crept out of their San Diego home, leaving Ms. Hollenkamp to sleep, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen.

Ms. Few picked up a newspaper at her local coffee shop, buzzing with nerves.

She had originally planned to propose over dinner, but The Morning publishes in, well, the morning. With family across the country — not to mention the Twitter storm that would soon follow — she couldn’t exactly wait.

After she returned with pumpkin spice lattes, it was time to exchange their six words of gratitude. (Ms. Few had challenged Ms. Hollenkamp to come up with her own, as a setup.)

Still unaware, Ms. Hollenkamp went first. “My life has never been happier,” she said.

Then, Ms. Few handed her the newspaper — the print edition also published the collection —and opened it to the story.

Ms. Hollenkamp said she read it five times because she couldn’t believe it was real. “I was like, ‘Wait, I’m Taylor Hollenkamp,’” she said.

“I started bawling and then Lauren asked me herself,” she added. “She put the ring on my finger. I was sobbing and pretty much scream-cried.”

The couple plan to get married in June, then go on a honeymoon in Costa Rica. (They’ve already booked their tickets.) But first, Ms. Hollenkamp said she planned to propose right back. “Lesbian perks,” she said, laughing. “You get two engagements.”

P.S. We can’t promise marriage proposals every day, but what we can promise is the latest news. If you want to receive The Morning in your inbox, sign up here.

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