After the wedding post, some folks (Canadians and ex-pat Canadians) expressed surprise and awe that Allie actually knows Fred Penner.
Years ago, when Allison was very small, I worked at CBC in Winnipeg. The department where I worked was adjacent to both the extensive record library and the studio where Fred taped his enormously popular kids' show, Fred Penner's Place.
One day, I had to stop in and do some rewrites on a script. Allison - who would have been about four, came along, and I set her up with crayons and paper at a desk outside my office while I got my work done.
I was just finishing up when I heard a squeal from her, and she threw down her crayon and took off down the long, narrow hallway to the record library.
I jumped up to see what was happening and rounded the corner in time to see my little girl leap from a distance into Fred Penner's arms.
"Allison ..." I said, but she was beyond reach of mere mortals. She was in hero-ville.
Fred scooped her up easily. "You ... you're ... Fred Penner!" she gasped.
"Yes, I am," said Fred. "And you ... I know you. You're ... that little girl who sits on the floor in front of the TV!"
"YES!" she said. "THAT'S ME!" (So it was true. Fred could actually SEE her through the television. And if he could do that, he probably heard her singing along with him, too.)
He'd heard me calling for her. Fred looked her in the eyes and said, "Wait ... aren't you Allison?"
"YES!" she said, utterly ecstatic that Fred would know her name. "I'm Allison!"
"Well, it's lovely to finally meet you, Allison," he said as he set her down. "Tomorrow I'll sing a song just for you!"
Well. Talk about a highlight of a kid's life.
In December of that year, I bought one of Fred's albums - "Special Delivery". (I want to emphasize that I bought the album - rather than borrowing it from the record library, as I certainly could. Otherwise, what I did would have violated an artist's copyright.)
I stopped Fred in the hallway and asked him to do me a little favour. We ducked into a recording studio, I handed him a script, and rolled tape.
That year, for Christmas, we gave the girls small cassette recorders - a kids' version of the Sony Walkman. Allison's came with a tape already inside.
On Christmas morning, she opened it, put on the headphones, and pushed "Play" She heard:
"Allison? Allison Ling? I thought it was you. This is Fred. Fred Penner. Hey, Allison, I made some songs just for you. I hope you'll learn them and sing along with me ... here we go!" And then the album started.
Well. If I'd been much smarter, I'd have taken a picture of her face at that moment. No, a video. it would have started with puzzlement ... then slow realization ... then utter, unbridled joy, the kind of joy only kids can ever know.
I haven't seen that sweatshirt in years - decades, I suppose. But unless I don't know my little girl as well as I think I do, that shirt is neatly folded away in a drawer somewhere, and she will have it forever.