Yesterday, we baptised child 4. It was a huge occasion, a chance for family, friends, work colleagues and our community, some of whom had travelled a long way to join us, to formally accept him into our fold. The priest did a grand job, knowing child 4 quite well he just "kept calm and carried on." Child 4 ran up and down the aisles saying his hellos, sat on the pews with his friends but when it was the oil and water anointing parts he happily took part. His 6 godparents watching over him, my sisters two boys, my husband friend, child 1 and the two lovely ladies who were our referees for the adoption process. (6 I hear you shriek, well we need all the help we can get)
Some of the cutest moments were, his rendition of Happy Birthday when he saw his baptism candle lit, then watching him trying to blow it out. The church was full of all ages from the 2year old upto quite possibly the 90 year old with every conceivable age in between, so it was a chaotic and noisy affair, but I truly believe that you could feel the love and joy seep into every corner of the building.
This wonderful chaos ensued afterwards when we headed off to the afternoon tea party. We had hired an old rundown tithe barn for the event because it offered the space needed for the humungeous number of guests invited, should it rain but also because the barn was situated next to a park, perfect for all the children who joined in the celebration. My mum, child 1 the Godmothers and I had decorated the crumbling walls with miles of brightly coloured bunting, tables and chairs were set out with old tin cans wrapped in ribbon and filled with the bright yellow trumpets of spring daffodils, the buffet tables were swathed in green table clothes edged in more bunting. Beautiful
Sandwiches were quickly devoured and the cakes were sliced and set out. The cakes were the piece de resistance, my mum, the Godmothers and I had baked a cake frenzy, coffee and walnut, chocolate, white chocolate, blueberry, batten burg, lemon drizzle, ginger, carrot, triple rose and raspberry Victoria, cup cakes and meringues to name a few. This airy (a polite way of saying cold and draughty) old barn was full of noise, laughter, banter and joy. For child 4 it was another new experience but another way of showing him how wonderful life can be. To give just a little bit of time, to stop and make friends with people of all ages and all walks of life, to help out with an event or just the routine running a of a community, to smile and say hi to a newcomer is enough to end up with a life full of people who want to be in your life, to enjoy the ups and downs with you and to offer you a smile or word of support just when you need it.
All our children have grown in a environment surrounded by strong family values, watched friendships grow, falter and some that have lasted the test of time and will probably see us into old age and a community that steps in to help when it is needed. They will have learned to help someone in need, to celebrate a happy event with unabandoned joy and to know there is a safe place to go when things go wrong. Perfect.