Monday, June 19, 2006


New, improved and free from original sin

The vision: celebrating our sons’ baptism in a gorgeous old cathedral, hushed voices echoing off vaulted ceilings, sun streaming through stained-glass windows, wooden pews buffed to a dull gleam, well-behaved boys mesmerized by a captivating sermon.

The reality: a touching but blissfully informal ceremony on plastic stackable chairs in the “gymnasium / cafetorium”-cum-church, punctuated by Simon asking every three or four minutes just loud enough for his voice to carry across the entire crowd, “We go now?”

The vision: returning to our sparkling clean house with my folks and my children’s godparents and their adorable daughter to snack on coffee and cake and delicate little sandwiches with cucumber garnish on the back deck in dappled sunshine.

The reality: ten frenzied minutes of throwing clutter out of the main part of the house just before we left, stopping on the way home to pick up a dozen and a half doughtnuts at Timmys, and sending Beloved out for takeout Kentucky Fried Chicken when noon rolls around and there is nothing even remotely suitable for lunch in the house.

You know what, though? It was perfect, even with the stacking chairs and the KFC**. The boys weren’t angels, but they were adorable in matching white GAP polo shirts and tan cargo pants and sandals. Amelia, the 16 month old daughter of the boys’ godparents, was angelic in a way that makes my ovaries pop with covetousness. Father John was kindly and patient didn’t seem to notice that Simon squirmed and wriggled incessantly and Tristan sang under his breath through most of the readings. Simon provided comic relief with his ongoing query of “We go now?” and by excitedly hopping up on the little stool in front of the baptismal font and declaring, “It’s my turn now!” after watching his brother being baptized.

Warning: sentimental moment pending.

Despite my misgivings and concerns about the Church as a whole, I found myself just a little verklempt standing at the baptismal font, basking for a moment in the spontaneous applause of the gathered families as Father John pronounced Tristan and Simon as baptized. (Not only were we in the front row, but we were first at every step. So much room for possible disaster, and yet it all went well. Another blessing!)

I may have trouble with a lot of the teachings of the Church, but I do believe, in my own way, in God, and in community, and especially in family. We made the right choice in baptizing the boys, even if the path to the baptismal font was a little convoluted.

I just have to learn to stop thinking about things so much.

** What is it about KFC? I spend months thinking of it purely toxic food, then somewhere a switch gets flipped and I start craving it. And over the course of another couple of months, the craving builds, and the whole time there is a little voice in my head that says, “Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.” And then I start talking aloud about wanting KFC, kind of like a little test to see if hearing it out loud will somehow alter the craving, and there is the voice of Beloved, who has seen this cycle more than a few times, saying, “Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.” But the craving builds up to an obsession, and I break down and order the damn KFC, and oh that greasy, salty crispy goodness, and the fries smothered in gravy and ketchup... and about a half an hour later and for the next three days, a grumbling, greasy bellyache and a vow to never, ever eat that crap again. And yet, a few months later...