Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding, If You Like That Sort of Thing

I remember watching something like this 30 years ago. Well, kind of, sort of like this, but not quite.
I had just returned to Utah after living in London for 6 months. I was there with my family while Dad was running a student program. He stayed on longer to report on the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana for the Salt Lake paper. I had enjoyed seeing all the fuss go on in London over the engagement and wedding preparations. I hunted for and found the cheapest and cheeziest souvenir possible (still have it). I was caught up in all the pageantry of the day, and missing being in the midst of it all. I did not consider that the tension between the bride and groom was anything more than wedding jitters. Silly me.
I think Kate and Wills have a better chance of long and happy bliss than did Chuck and Di.
I am seeing a bit more of a marriage of equals going into this, since they have both been training each other  for it for a number of years.
Here are some random thoughts as the wedding goes on...
I am still quite enjoying the pageantry. And no one does pageantry like England.
I am loving the intense colors worn by the wedding guests. And there are some wildly, outrageously cool hats. I am wondering how some of them are staying perched on the heads they adorn. There must be some super glue involved. And some hats are so big and positioned so the vision of the wearer must be seriously obscured. Talk about your blind spots. If they turned their head too suddenly, they might take someone's eye out, or at least do some serious damage.
Every time I hear the voice of the clergy begin the marriage ceremony, no matter how deep and rich, I can't help but think of the wedding scene from the movie "Princess Bride".
I really love the pealing bells. If you are fortunate enough to make it to England, try to get to a cathedral and see the bell ringers. The pealing bells are not random. It requires great skill, and is a wonderful thing to see and hear.
The music is as great as ever. I am a sucker for beautiful, traditional hymns.
It was very sweet when William looked at her when she got to the altar with him and he said, "You look beautiful."
How do they keep all of those horses in such great condition, and looking so gorgeous?
As I see them riding carriages through London, I spot places I have been. I remember all the wonderful experiences I had there with people I love. I can't wait to return.
Kate and William just pulled up to Buckingham Palace after the wedding. They seemed to take a deep breath before heading into the palace for many hours of festivities before they can relax.
Brace yourselves and hold on to each other. The ride is just beginning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nail Salon at the Temple?

You didn't really think I could cover my daughter's wedding in just one blog post.
After the wedding in the temple, Mike went outside to visit with family and friends while I went with Charlotte and Elizabeth to the dressing room to help her get ready for the photos. We did not rush.
In the meantime, there was a party going on outside. Everyone who was at the wedding and everyone who was waiting outside the temple were visiting.
My sister to Mike - "What is taking so long? It's been a while since I have been in the temple. Have they added a nail salon?"
Mike to my sister - "Yeah, they have. It's right next to the coffee shop."
When Charlotte and Reed came out of the temple, Anna was the first to greet Charlotte. Then she hugged me and said, "When Dad came out to see us his eyes were red."
Not surprising.
When Charlotte and Reed were kneeling at the alter, Mike and I were looking at each other. It is impossible to hear people give and receive promises like that, promises that have no end, that we made to each other and to God, and not be moved. Now we have heard Charlotte make them to Reed, and him to her.
It wasn't just Mike's eyes that were red.
So here is something else I learned about Reed before the wedding...
I mentioned we put together a slide show for the reception. We got some final photos of Reed the week before. I noticed that some were of him in pioneer garb with youth groups doing a pioneer trek. As I looked through them, I realized he was playing the part of one of the heroes.
Background information - When some of the handcart companies were crossing the plains to get to Utah in the 1850's, they were caught in some early winter storms. Many died. When Brigham Young heard about the groups that were stranded in blizzards, he cancelled meetings and called on those who could to go and rescue them. Some loaded wagons up with supplies and headed out, some hurried on ahead with what they could carry on horses. Several young men were some of the first to reach the handcart companies, freezing and starving on the other side of an icy river. They went back and forth across the river, carrying those who could not cross on their own. When youth groups reenact the trek, they often speak of this incident. In this group, Reed was one of the rescuers carrying people across the river.
I don't think many of us like the idea of being rescued, or of needing a hero. We want to be able to handle it all alone, be our own superhero. That makes for a limited and lonely life. But we are more than happy to be a rescuer or hero to someone else. I think Mike and I have learned to be that for each other. We rescue each  other, and we let the other rescue back. Mike says I am his hero, and I know he is mine.
I know Reed was playing a part as rescuer, but I think any practice is good.
I like thinking that Charlotte is with someone who will carry her when she can't go on, who will let her carry him when he can't. I like the idea that they could someday see that, together, they can leap tall buildings, be faster than a speeding bullet, and more powerful than a supercomputer (speeding locomotives are too outdated).
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go practice.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen. He Is Risen Indeed.

My Easter memories go back as far as my Christmas memories.
Mom and Dad always had Easter baskets out for us, and there was always a hunt for eggs and candy. Mom would help us color the eggs. Being an artist, she would find a way for us to add a personal touch of expression, and we would know the eggs we were finding came from our kitchen. Dad had as much fun hiding the eggs and candy as we had in hunting for them. He would wander around saying things like, "The Easter Bunny was definitely over here," and "I think I smell more chocolate eggs around here."
When we got older, he still liked to hide candy for us to find, but he would make it more challenging. He loved it if the weather was nice enough to go outside. He would put some of the candy in prickly weeds or among the thorny roses. One year we wondered how he got the chocolate eggs up on the roof. I think he wanted to see how creative we would be in order to reach the candy. He seemed to have more fun every year. We provided more entertainment for him than color TV.
There was always an Easter program at church, and sometimes another program that night. I knew the words to the traditional Easter hymns before I knew all the Christmas Hymns, and I loved singing them.
We would always talk about Christ, and the events of the last week of Christ's life. I have an early memory of watching a Hollywood movie about the life of Christ, and it all culminated in His crucifixion. I had already felt the presence of God in my life, and I didn't like this image of someone defeated by mean people. I was heartbroken and inconsolable. Dad held me on his lap, and told me how there was so much more, that the love of Christ was stronger than death, and sadness, and loss. He said we can find joy at Easter time by concentrating on the Atonement and Resurrection. I liked the idea of knowing someone who was stronger than death.
A few years later Dad showed me how there was another way of saying Atonement. At-One-Ment was what Christ did for us in the garden. He felt our sorrows, suffering, pain, our joy, confusion, doubt, fear. By loving us completely, He became one with us. He became us. The presence of God was clearer to me. When I went through some years of doubting myself and everything else, it was easy to doubt that anyone, even a loving God could love me. I still liked Easter - the candy hunts, the family gathering, the story, the music all brought a familiar comfort, but a temporary one.
I have since learned that choosing to turn away from love, especially God's love, is not a joyful life. I now choose a joyful life. Easter is again a celebration of rebirth, forgiveness and repentance, connection, gathering, joy and the power of love over death. I have learned to celebrate it all year.
I will hide candy for anyone who will hunt for it. I loved the Easter Programs I saw last week and last night, and sang in this morning. I love the smell of my carrot cake and the lamb roast we will share with another family today. I love, most of all, offering the greeting Dad taught me years ago - He is risen. And receiving the response...
He is risen indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Only The Mother of the Bride

My name is Jody. It's been 3 months since my last blog.
Busy time. Charlotte's wedding and 2 receptions, one in Salt Lake City, one in Colorado are now great memories with plenty of photos to remind us. Here are some of my favorite moments and thoughts.
I made one trip to Utah each month in December, January and February to take care of arrangements for the wedding. Even though it was hectic, and Charlotte was always busy with her job and church assignments, we were able to do things together and make everything work. We weren't having stereotypical mother daughter wedding planning blow-ups. I guess TV producers will have to find others for their so-called reality shows.
I liked it when Charlotte would call me several times a day to go over details.
I love the way she used Google to gather addresses. I don't know how we got by without that. Then she used a program that printed the addresses from her data base on all the envelopes, so the only ones I hand lettered were the ones to the President and other officials, or the ones we couldn't find addresses for until the very end. So, even though the addresses looked like they were printed by Wall-E from the Disney movie, it saved the sanity of more than a few of us. I just hope there weren't too many people who thought it was junk mail because of the machine printing.

I was thrilled to find a printer in Denver who, unlike so many heathens who work at copy centers, could tell that the artwork I brought to him was hand lettered calligraphy...not some type face I had spit out of my computer so they could try to match it with some technical typeface of their own. Blessings and appreciation for Scott of Centennial Press who spent 2 hours going over the artwork after he scanned it to make sure it printed well. He deserved the brownies and ginger cookies I took to him and his family.
I am so glad Anna went with Charlotte to find a wedding dress, and that she texted me photos of Charlotte in the dress she chose. Even though I couldn't be there for this important moment, I still got to shed a tear within minutes of it.
I liked it when Reed would let us know when he was doing something to surprise Charlotte, and ask for our help with details.
Once the major stress of getting the announcements printed and sent, and choosing a caterer and venue was mostly done, it was nice to focus energy on scanning photos for the reception slide show. We had plenty of Charlotte, and we were able to get a box from Reed's family. It was bittersweet to go through 25 years of pictures in a short time. That was when it really did seem as though it was just last week that Charlotte was toddling across the floor, or jabbering in her 3 year old language, or playing in her first recital.
I was glad my friend Andi would remind us (whenever any of us would voice a different opinion from what Charlotte had chosen, and yes, my mom and siblings have strong opinions, too) that we were not the ones who had the veil and bouquet, but she would bring us a cheesy one if we really felt the need to be the bride for a while. What she really brought us was some of her fabulous homemade bread, which bestowed on us comfort and calm.

I was very glad to be there when Anna and Charlotte went up to Red Butte Gardens the week before the wedding and Anna photographed Charlotte in her dress for the Bridal pictures. Even though I had to spread a sheet on the ground for Charlotte to stand on so her dress wouldn't get wet, the fresh snow on the trees made a beautiful backdrop for a beautiful woman in some beautiful photos. It was a gift to be able to see my daughters interacting this way.
I loved being able to take Charlotte out to dinner a few days before the wedding and have some time with just her. Some others suggested I not do that during such a busy time, and I was almost ready to play the "I'm just the mother of the bride and this is all I am asking" guilt card, but I didn't have to. I got my time alone with my daughter before she formally became part of a new family, and that is all I wanted.
I am so grateful my brother Mark and sister-in-law Elizabeth run the best gelato shop outside of Italy. Their gelato was a great addition to the buffet from Cuisine Unlimited for the reception.
I am also grateful Elizabeth willingly became the hairdresser, make-up artist and florist for the reception and the wedding. She patiently supervised me, Charlotte and my sisters as we arranged flowers in vases and she created a stunning bouquet, corsages and boutonnières. She did Charlotte's hair and make-up for the reception, then again the next day for the wedding. That woman deserves some artwork.

I am thrilled Charlotte and Reed decided to have the reception Friday evening, and then the wedding on Saturday morning. It was nice to have all the fuss of the big reception on Friday, and then be able to concentrate on the more intimate gathering at the temple with family on Saturday for the wedding. That is the way Mike and I did it and I have always been glad we did.
I am glad both receptions accomplished what we hoped. It was a time and place for people to gather, celebrate and honor a new couple, see family and friends again, relax, visit and enjoy good food. The one at Red Butte was a beautiful setting and perfect for the 450+ people who came. Cuisine Unlimited did a beautiful job with the catering, Dolcetti's with the gelato and Paula with the cake, and family and friends with the ambiance. The second one at our home was crowded and fun. We were thrilled so many came and stayed the whole time.
I loved it when we walked out of the temple after the wedding, and so many family and friends were there to greet Charlotte and Reed. I am thrilled so many family members came a long way to be a part of this.
I am especially glad all my kids could be there for this.
I am glad Charlotte's friend Morgan (Morgan Leigh Photography) was willing to be her photographer for the reception and wedding, and that she did such a great job.
I am glad my nephew Jacob invited the spirit of celebration by doing some great flying leaps for the wedding. His last leap was the best, when he jumped over everyone else to snatch the bouquet when Charlotte tossed it.
I am glad Reed's parents, Ross and Eileen provided a wonderful luncheon for the family after the wedding. It was nice to have a moment to unwind, relax and get some delicious caloric sustenance after such a week.
My favorite moment after the reception was when we finished taking the gifts to Charlotte's apartment. She changed into jeans and a t-shirt, then she sat on the floor and visited with Mike while she ate some of the food the caterers had set aside for her.
Then the next morning, Mike and I went with Charlotte to my dad's grave and covered it with all the flowers from the reception. We knew that was one way to include him, and to make sure he was awake in time for the wedding. We went to the temple after that and had some quiet time walking around with her before Reed got there.
It was a nice way to begin a whole new part of life.