On Saturday just past, we held our annual Christening tea at my parents’ house.
Even before we baptised Pigwig, I had dreamt of an annual gathering where we could gather the Godparents to pray for our daughter (and later, our son – we deliberately christened him around the same time of year). It made sense to choose the end of of October when both of them had been christened, two years apart and it’s a gap when there are no other big celebrations for our family.
So far, it’s worked out well. We gather the Godparents, my Mum bakes for Britain (our house is too tiny for the crowd of Godparents and their accompanying children) and we all go for a walk and eat a huge high tea together, usually praying for the kids just before the meal. It’s a tradition we all enjoy.
I have always recognised that it will need to morph as the kids grow. Last year the prayers were very short as our two were 1 and 3 and we had a further 4 children there of between 3 and 6. Some of the Godparents wrote them lengthier letters detailing what they had prayed for during the year and the ways in which they had seen them grow. We’ve kept these for them to read when they are older. This year neither of them were in the room, as will become apparent. They will hopefully have the grace and patience to be in the room as they get older!
But I promised you that this blog would be about real life and nurturing our kids’ faith in an imperfect world. Much as the Christening tea is a cherished tradition, it doesn’t always go according to plan. I’m lucky not to be a perfectionist as I would often be disappointed on such occasions! The prayers this year were heartfelt and we treasured them as parents. The spread of food was, as usual, utterly spectacular – my Mum made the Great British Bake-off look like a lack-lustre village fete cake competition.
But Pigwig, having started school just 7 weeks ago, was upstairs asleep at 4pm, utterly exhausted, failing even to revive at the prospect of her best friend’s company, one of the Godmother’s daughters. Tintin was so bunged full of cold he ate nothing, not even the luscious chocolate cake which he had helped bake. The photos are in fact from last year’s tea as I was too busy trying to get Tintin to eat to take any this year. The prayers were clearly not going to happen before tea and, by the time the adults were just going on to the sweeter parts of the meal, the kids who were awake were clamouring to “get down and play!” We let them and the prayers took place in one room with the play in another. I stood at the door between the two rooms, trying to listen and supervise at the same time.
Was it worth doing? Yes, absolutely! Was it worth the effort we went to to organise and attend? Yes, certainly (although, as a less accomplished baker, I was glad not to be in charge of that side of things!). It is important to us to thank our children’s’ Godparents for the support they give us as a family throughout the year, the prayers they send heavenwards for our two and the energy and commitment they put into both. The event might not have been as pristine as we would have liked this year but then, is life ever? We could easily, in a quest for perfection or photo opportunities, have missed out on the chance to thank some very dear people and to praise God for what he is doing in our kids’ lives. We could also have made it a lot less fun for everyone by stressing about it.
No, this side of heaven there will be no perfect party but the bible tells us clearly: “Rejoice! And again, I say, rejoice!”