Just a little, funny story from our weekend to precede a "roast of the
groom" with. Thursday our oldest son, and 3rd child, Jared, got married
to LeeAnn Valgardson, from a pioneering Icelandic family of Taber,
"sugar beet capital of Canada," east of Lethbridge, Alberta. They were
married in the Edmonton temple in the early evening, and I was able to
see the sealing room there for the first time. The Cardston temple,
which used to be "my" temple (and will always be, in many ways), has 4
sealing rooms, but it seems all the new "mini-temples," while they only
have 2 sealing rooms, have one which is a fair bit larger than the
others, with 3 rows of chairs on each side of the altar.

When the sealer showed an envelope, filled with the Proclamation on the
Family, their Alberta marriage licence and the temple wedding
certificate, he told them it wasn't a good idea to lose this
documentation, especially the marriage licence, and asked which of the
two was the more responsible. My wife immediately pointed to LeeAnn.

We saw some old friends Saturday at the reception in Taber. Originally
from southern Alberta pioneer families, they had become accustomed to
Ottawa (which is where we knew them from), but had recently decided to
move back to a small Mormon town best known for its basketball players.
They were recently in the paper for a court challenge they were mounting
against the local school district on behalf of their 205-cm tall son
(long story), but when they showed up in the lineup it was hugs all
'round, as I had not seen them since a business trip to Ottawa some 6
years ago. He used to be our bishop and also our dentist, and she's a
vivacious, sophisticated and very striking woman.

We found out that they left the reception in Taber to go to Medicine
Hat, and were trying to get back to their hometown this morning (Sunday)
in time for 09:00 Sacrament, so with her driving with her big-city lead
foot, it was inevitable that they got stopped by the Mounties for
speeding just outside Lethbridge. The mountie said he appreciated they
were trying to get to church, and because of the time of year, he was
giving them "the Christmas discount" and cut their fine in half: to
$100. One wonders just how fast she was going on a 100 kph highway! One
other thing we can tease her about. She is *not* enjoying small town
life and longs for the big city again. Fortunately, she said, Calgary is
only 2 hours away (a bit less if you use the "Granum gap" shortcut that
we learned today to get around Fort Macleod).

Well, anyway, just to share with everyone, here's the written version of
my toast to the groom, although it's only a guide -- I always ad lib
according to whim and sometimes even the Spirit, and pretended that I
had been asked to "roast" the groom, but was only informed on my way up
by my wife that it was a "toast" to the groom (that was my shtick; my
brother, Craig -- whom Tom knows -- was the MC, and together we work a
bit like the Smothers Brothers. We play to each other but in a way that
makes it look like we keep misunderstanding each other. As Craig said to
Jared after my toast, "Jared, if you ever want revenge on your Dad, let
me know, and I'll tell you all kinds of stories...and some of them are
even true.")


On the way up here I was informed that I was supposed to give a “toast
to the groom.” Unfortunately, when I was first given this assignment, I
didn’t hear it properly, and at first I thought it was supposed to be
the “rest of the broom” but I don’t even know where we keep the broom in
our place, so I assumed it was meant to be the “roast of the groom.”
It’s too late to change now, so Jared is about to be served up
well-done. And he'll certainly be toast when I'm done with him. I think
with a dash of HP sauce you’ll find him palatable. If not, try ketchup.
If that doesn’t work, try more ketchup. Ketchup fixes everything. And
what it won’t fix, duct tape or WD-40 will. I got that from an expert on
TV. [the cognescenti will recognize the allusion to Red Green].

When Jared was first born, in Foothills Hospital in Calgary, he had
these huge brown, puppy-dog eyes, and while all the nurses were cooing
over him, “Oh, what a little cutie pie,” I was thinking, “Oh, I dunno,
he looks all shrivelled and purple, just like all the other kids did.”
But even I noticed the eyes, so I nicknamed him Tootsie Roll – you know,
those big brown candies – and later, Gopher, since gophers have such big
brown eyes, too. It was meant as an affectionate nickname, and I think
he took it that way until a cousin from Cardston went and wrecked it all
by telling Jared, who grew up in Ottawa, that in Alberta they shoot

Well, we wouldn’t know up in Edmonton. We don’t have many gophers up
there except for the ones who work for the government. Okay, now I get
it – they are varmints. Finally, after more than 20 years, I think I see
why Gopher, er, I mean, Jared, objected to it.

But it could have been worse. He could have been Colleen, which case he
wouldn't be marrying LeeAnn this week (one presumes). Cathy and I pretty
well figured we were going to have four children (I knew the limits of
my sanity even though I decided to get married), so we had four boys'
names and four girls' names picked out. The girls were going to be named
after the four main cultural areas of the British Isles: Scotland first,
of course, England a distant second, then Ireland and Wales. So Jared’s
oldest sister is Heather, and his next-oldest sibling, our second child,
is named Gillian. After all her American relatives kept asking her where
her island was and whether she knew Ginger and Mary Anne, Gillian
started going by Jill. Since “X-Files” became popular, a show which
stars the actress Gillian Anderson, it hasn’t been so bad.

But back to Jared. Colleen, an Irish name, would have been next, so
you’re free to call him Colleen and he’ll know you mean him. Now, LeeAnn
might find this confusing, but she picked him, so it’s now her problem,
not ours.

He inherited his dark hair and dark complexion from me. He’s hoping he’s
inherited his maternal grandfather’s hair follicles, though. His Grandpa
White had all of his hair intact ‘til the day he died. But male pattern
baldness is a dominant gene. LeeAnn, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Don’t
spend a lot on combs for him. [In the Spruce Grove version I had my
brother-in-law, who's the same age as I, stand up -- he has snow white
hair, so I told Jared he had a choice, but if I were him I'd go with
Uncle Rick's white hair because you could always dye it. In the Taber
version, where my Dad gave the Advice to the Couple in a ring ceremony
in the chapel, I told Jared that a vision of the middle future could be
seen reflected off my scalp, and a vision of the distant future could be
seen reflected off Grandpa's scalp, at which point my Dad stood up and
bowed towards Jared].

Now to get serious for a moment. I remember being set apart as a
missionary by Ted E. Brewerton, who was my stake president in Calgary at
the time, and who had been my bishop. He’s now an Emeritus Seventy.
Pres. Brewerton blessed me with the gift of tongues but he explained
that once a dispensation has started, this does not mean the speak-ing
in tongues as is recorded in the early history of the Church, both in
the Meridian of Time and in the Latter-day dispensations – in fact, this
was one of the things Paul was trying to point out in his famous
discourse on faith, hope and charity in I Corinthians 13. Well, I had
never done well in French—I am an Albertan, after all, so I had my
doubts, but it turns out I was sent to Germany and the language came
very easily to me.

I don’t know if spiritual gifts are hereditary. [In Spruce Grove, the
"honorary matriarch" of our ward, Faye Davies, interjected that they
are, so I said, "Sister Davies says they are, and she's the ward's
authority, so I'll take her word for it."] We have to give our children
some credit for their own capabilities, after all. But Jared has the
gift of tongues like few I’ve ever met. I remember meeting then-Elders
Monson and Hinckley. I worked in the mission office in Munich in 1974
and they were en route to countries behind the Iron Curtain, trips they
made rather more often than I think is realized today. Elder Monson, who
had been the mission president in Toronto years ago, buttonholed me when
he found out I was Canadian and we talked until we found someone we both
knew in common, a brother named C. Malcolm Warner. Well, Elder Monson
told me that the Iron Curtain wasn’t going to last forever, and it was
part of his job to prepare for the day when it came down.

I didn’t think too much more about that. It was pretty solid at that
time. Little did I know that my own son would serve his mission behind
that “Iron Curtain.” And little did I know that my modest gift of
tongues would be eclipsed by Jared, who is fluent in three foreign
languages, four if you count American. In his mission, he managed to get
transferred back and forth across the European-Asian border as he served
in the Yekaterinburg Mission, which is in the Ural Mountains, which
divides European Russia from Siberia, or Asian Russia. I'm not sure we
ever did train our bishop in the proper pronunciation of

He was also fortunate enough to serve in an area with a strong Moslem
influence – the province of Bashkortostan. I suspect Jared may someday
be just as surprised to see someone – maybe one of his own children –
serve in a Moslem nation. But that’s not a prophecy. I think the only
thing I’m going to go out on a limb and prophesy is that Jared and
LeeAnn’s children will probably not be midgets (LeeAnn is a good 180 cm
tall -- as tall as Jared and I, and all her siblings are tall.)

Jared was always a doodler, and liked to draw. He became famous in the
MTC for drawing pictures of the other missionaries. He did so well at
learning Russian that he had time to draw, and he gave many of his
pictures away. He’s always been artistic, and at times has the
head-in-the-clouds distant look that artists have. That’s why we always
make sure he ties his shoelaces.

When he laughs, he laughs with his face, not his voice.

A former bishop of ours, Rob Burnham, told us a story once about a
junior high dance Jared was at, which Bishop Burnham was helping to
chaperone. Br. Burnham observed that at one point, during a slow dance,
a girl put his arms around his neck. Jared took her hands and put them
on his shoulder and waist. Ironically, the girls respected this and
wanted to dance with him because he showed them respect like that. He
loved to jive, and he and his sisters practised together. Which is why
we recently replaced a combination fan/chandelier kind of gizmo in our
family room [JWR -- that white thingamajig I pointed out to you between
where you were sitting and the TV, on the ceiling], which Jared careened
into once, launching himself off the coffee table. He’s always one to
use his head like that. Whenever we come to signs that say “low-hanging
bridge ahead” we always slow down if Jared’s in the car.

I can’t tell any naughty stories about Jared in school, because he
always managed to eat the notes the principal and his teachers would
send home with him, so at least you know he shows grace under pressure
and a certain amount of innovative initiative. Well, and it shows
something about the quality of school cafeterias in Ontario. There’s a
lot of other things I could say about him, but it takes long enough to
give him a haircut these days as it is, so I don’t want to swell his
head. Besides, I hope he enjoys his hair as long as it lasts. And I’m
keeping this speech and I’m going to show it to him in 20 years, as a
guarantee, so he doesn’t put me in a shabby old folks home like the
Simpsons did on TV with Grandpa Abe.

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he
will pick himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the
author solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the
author’s employer, nor those of any organization with which the author
may be associated.

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