Today” calls Rockefeller Plaza home and the 2019 Christmas tree already stands, surrounded by its scaffolding, in preparation for the big reveal in the Big Apple next week, on December 4. The beautiful greenery won’t be the only one showing off glitz for the holidays. “Today” co-anchor and fourth-hour co-host with Jenna Bush Hager, Hoda Kotb, showed off a surprise this morning, November 25, that she never expected - an engagement ring.

Hoda Kotb, 55, and her longtime love, Joel Schiffman, 61, have been together for six years.

There was an instant connection between them, as Kotb described, this morning with “Today” producer Joanne who introduced the two at a soirée. Kotb confessed that the event itself wasn't so memorable, but recalled: “this great guy, Joel,” as she related at the start of this morning’s “Hoda & Jenna” segment.

The couple has settled into real life and real commitment, in steadfast ways, with Joel supporting Hoda and their girls, Haley and Hope, through the adoption process and a daily presence as a dad.

Schiffman had to be planning the perfect way to pop the question to Kotb but, to her, it only seemed like a fun getaway to the beach, until Joel assumed “proposal stance.”

If an engagement isn’t enough reason to celebrate, Jenna Bush Hager celebrates a birthday today, with her twin sister, Barbara, and the love between the two siblings remains as deep and strong as ever.

Not the usual chips and queso

“Joel put a ring on it,” Al Roker playfully proclaimed, throughout the morning, even toasting on the “Hoda & Jenna” start with the full crew.

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It was hard not to notice the lovely square-styled stone on Kotb’s hand, but what most touched the seasoned journalist was the effort and planning invested by her intended to pull off their special moment.

“He had to be carrying around the ring in his pocket for a while,” Kotb knows. The last time that the pair seriously discussed marriage was “about a year ago,” and Hoda described how they had always been content in their relationship in the same way that Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been through their decades together.

She did sense a difference when Haley Joy, who will be 3 in February, and baby sister, Hope Catherine, arrived into the family.

Joel tried to pick the perfect setting, even hoping to propose at a favor bowling alley. While they were on the beach, however, Hoda brought up just dozing off to sleep and “forgetting about everything.” Joel suggested dinner first. Hoda has always delighted in the relaxed willingness and joy that Schiffman displays. “That's the way he lives his life,” she stressed. She was just about done licking the dip bowl for the churros when Joel said he had something to say.

“That's when he got down on one knee and said: ‘Will you marry me?”

Just like every future bride, Kotb realized this was her moment, gleefully accepting, as is evidenced by the beautiful portrait of the pair.

Kotb feels something different since the proposal. She says “we” more often and with more distinction, and she's already picturing her girls walking down the aisle at the wedding.

She and Joel may say that “Mommy and Daddy are having a party because we love each other so much,” in explanation of their special day to their daughters. The exact words won’t matter, because the faces and the love will say it all.

Gushing love and gushing dip

Jenna Bush Hager got a birthday serenade on the Plaza this morning, and “Donna Dorable,” (Donna Farizan) who does it all for the fourth-hour and “Today,” presented a “queso cake” to Jenna in honor of her special day.

The outer appearance was lovely, and millions of viewers know that dip and queso is Hager’s very favorite snack.

Once a slice was cut, however, orange liquid flowed from the center like molten lava. The splats on the floor were hardly appetizing. Nonetheless, Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda joined in blowing out the candles. Jenna didn't forget the sister with whom she shares the day forever.

“Another trip around the sun with my sissy,” began the “Sister First,” co-author, now embarked on their children’s book launch. Hager recounts the story of going on their first flight solo—without their parents, at age 7. A fussy squabble ensued, and a passenger seated on the aisle asked of Jenna: “Are you going to hit, or should I?” Instantly, the feud ended, with Barbara putting “her little arm on my shoulder, ” affirming that no one would hurt her sister, as Jenna wrote in her social media post.

She further credits: “that's my sister, all heart and all action. She loves fiercely and lives joyfully.” I'm so lucky that she's mine!” Hager closed, “Happy Birthday, sissy!”

Today” has been overflowing with family delight through the arrival of Hoda Kotb’s girls and Jenna Bush Hager's first son, Hal, with her hubby, Hank, in August. The next in line for baby festivities is Dylan Dreyer, due in January, and then wedding planning will be fully underway for Hoda Kotb and Joel Schiffman, sure to have a lovely stroll down the aisle to look forward to after Christmas. The gift of love is dearer than any gift under the tree.

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