Friday, June 29, 2012

They're Back!

Conversation between Oliver and me earlier in the week:

    • When do you leave? I saw the flurry of posts yesterday with your Mom, etcc ...
    • Thursday!
    • What time do you arrive?
    • Around 8 pm
    • Are we allowed to meet you at the airport or is that just too uncocol for you ddudes now ...
    • uncool and dudes
    • it depends on whether or not Tim Hortons will be involved.
    • TIM WILL BE INVOLVED!!! How do you like your coffee, and what doughnuts are preferred?
    • Ice Cap for Elliot and me, 2 creams 1 sugar for Dad, and a decaf ice cap for Mom if they have it, otherwise decaf coffee with double milk for Mom. Preferably with a variety of doughnuts.
    • I took a survey.

Welcome back!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"There Was a Wedding in Cana ..."

It was a wonderful, magical day. Cinderella showed up - and she wasn't even the bride! 

Here's how the day unfolded:

This is how my Saturday started, courtesy of the lovely, talented and gracious Deborah Joy ... a breakfast fit for a princess ...

Oh, but it wasn't about me, you say?! Very well, then - back to the story ...

I was so privileged to have been asked by Craig and Kelsey to play the piano for parts of the ceremony, so I arrived early and got to witness the very first people entering the sanctuary. There were people from Youngstown, where Craig spent the first few years of his life; people from Three Hills; people from Calgary. All of these people had one thing in common - they love Craig and wanted to welcome his new bride.

Kelsey had family coming in from various places too, but the one town I want to highlight is Tofield. 

You see, right after Dad graduated from college in the 1950s he went to pastor a tiny church in Tofield. In that congregation were Kelsey's grandmother and other family members ...

Today he would be delivering the wedding address to the granddaughter of the lady who, along with her mother, Mrs Laura Francis, had sat under his preaching nearly 60 years earlier as a newlywed herself. And that granddaughter would now become his granddaughter too.

The tone of the room changed when Kelsey's two Grandmothers were escorted down the aisle, followed shortly by Craig's Grandma and Grandpa Erickson and his Grandpa Ironside.

As the mothers of the groom and the bride made their way to their seats I played Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, because that is the music to which Kelsey's lovely mother, Linda, had walked down the aisle on her wedding day; and also because we were, all of us, about to be escorted into a hallowed hour, a sacrament not to be entered into lightly. "Before God and these witnesses," is what the marriage officiant of old used to intone. 

The groom, led by Pastor Tim, strode purposefully down the aisle followed by the best man and the other groomsmen. They carefully took their places and watched as the bridesmaids and the maid of honour promenaded down the aisle, followed by Cinderella - the bride's four-year-old cousin, who had her white dress on and her hair pinned up and her silver slippers twinkling down the very first aisle in her life that she would traverse with such importance. She was fully aware of the gravitas of the occasion, pacing herself as she carried her miniature bouquet with aplomb. It was she who had told me at the rehearsal that she would be Cinderella the next day, and so she was. She efficiently found her spot on stage, turned herself to face the audience - and flashed everyone an enormous smile and a proud thumbs-up! 

Now there was nothing left to do but wait for the bride ...

And suddenly she was there, at the top of the aisle, radiant on the arm of her proud father:

Everyone was bewitched, not the least Craig, who could not take his eyes off her. As she approached the front of the church he involuntarily stepped toward her; somewhere in the middle of the spell he found himself under he knew he was supposed to do something before he took her hand. To everyone's delight he grabbed his parents and hugged them before Pastor Tim murmured into the mike, "Not yet, Craig - come back here!"

Kelsey hugged her father, and her mother stepped around the beautiful train to kiss her daughter. "Who gives this woman ...?" came the question. "We do," the answer came back in the hushed voices of these parents who had prayed for this girl and for this moment from before she was born.

Craig led his bride up the few steps to the platform, where Pastor Tim opened with a prayer and then called up Craig's Grandpa Ironside to give the address.

"It all began with a wedding," Dad started. "There was a wedding in Cana. People were blessed. And the wedding party, the household and the community were influenced for good."

He went on, "There's something special about the power of a good marriage. In the physical or material world, power is released by one becoming two - for example the splitting of an atom.  In the spiritual realm, however, power is released by two becoming one."
"I hope and pray that in 25 years from now people will be able to say, 'There was a wedding in Calgary. And because of that wedding, because of that union, people have been blessed and the world has been influenced for good.' "

As he left the stage, Pastor Tim began the vows, the official start to the two becoming one. When the consecration of the rings was complete he got each of them to repeat after him as they placed the ring on the hand of their love. Craig was first.

"Craig, repeat after me," he started, and went on to say words to this effect, "Kelsey when you look at this ring, think of it as a token of my love ..." (and Craig would then repeat what Tim had said) "... when you look at this ring, think of it as an enduring symbol of our union ... when you look at this ring, think of what it cost me ..." Craig looked blankly at him and then valiantly started to repeat the words. "No, you don't have to say that part," chuckled Tim, to the accompaniment of much laughter from the congregation who had been following along with every word.

And then came the signing of the registry. Luke and Brittany, the brother of the groom and sister of the bride, held up their end with grace and kindness. I couldn't help thinking of what they both knew they were giving up this day - Craig and Kelsey had been their respective best friends and now that bond would be set aside somewhat for this new bond that was being forged between the newlyweds. It could not have been all that easy;  but both of them performed their parts admirably and with dignity.

Just before the end of the ceremony Dad was called back up to pray for God's blessing on the couple. Right before he did, he said this: "A wedding is an event; a marriage is an accomplishment. I hope to see a great accomplishment as a result of this day."

And then the moment we had all been waiting for: 

"It is my privilege to introduce for the first time ... Mr and Mrs Craig ironside!"

The first few pictures were taken in a secluded corner of the church parking lot:

Then came the "getaway vehicle moment", truly a labour of love by Luke for his brother. He had worked on his truck till 4 o'clock that morning, going so far as even to paint the wheels so that it would look perfect. This truck was a thing of beauty, right from the bullets tied on for the shotgun wedding aspect to the Victoria's Secret gift card and Canadian Tire money taped on to the back, near the "Just Married" sign ...
No detail had been overlooked, including the little stepping stool to enable Kelsey to get into the truck in her dress!

Just before the wedding party drove away with their photographer, we were privileged to witness a tender moment between mother and daughter, reminding us that no matter what new bonds are created, some bonds will remain through eternity:

And then the mother of the bride, looking anything but matronly, peeled out of the parking lot in her husband's Camaro ...
 Back in the church foyer was an opportunity for a few more captured memories:

That evening we all met at the Calgary Croatian Centre for the reception.
Guest book table

Under the expert guidance of the evening's MCs, Matt and Corinne, who exerted their power with the lightest of touches and who were not above being bribed to advance a table's position in the pecking order, we all got up to the buffet table and were fed a delicious meal in record time.

Right before the first people went up to get diner, the ground rules were set for getting Craig and Kelsey to kiss: you had to be willing to demonstrate how you wanted them to kiss, and they would try to imitate you. The MCs called up Allan and Angie to demonstrate ...
... and then Craig and Kelsey had to see if they could replicate the demonstration ...

After the meal the three couples of the evening spoke: the parents of the bride and groom, followed by the newlyweds themselves.

The maid of honour and the best man also spoke eloquently of their deep connections with their siblings and wished them both God's best for their new lives together.

And then, to everyone' surprise, Craig serenaded his brand new wife, with an assist from MC Matt. The song was called I'm just a guy, full of tongue-in-cheek humour:

Following this came a few games ...

There were the usual cake-cutting, the throwing of the bouquet and the tossing of the garter.

And there were the first two dances:

Our other favourite nephew was at his sartorial best for the occasion ...

Far too soon it was time for me to leave, to head back to the TH and the preparations for Father's Day.

But, as is fitting in fairytales, Cinderella got the last dance. No glass slippers for our princess this evening - she didn't need them!

Congratulations, Kelsey and Craig! We are anticipating great accomplishments, accompanied by great love, as a result of this day. xoxo