Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fairy Godmother

I'm probably not the first person you think of when you think "religiously pious" or "devout Christian." More like "book nerd" or "sarcastic blabber mouth." And with good reason. I was raised Methodist, baptized and confirmed at the same church, which is still just a couple of miles from my home now, but I don't go to church regularly. I don't have a strong religious connection or a church home. I don't have a desire to go to church often. I haven't set foot in that church of my childhood since I was fourteen. But I'm a Christian by any basic definition of the word. We attend at Christmas. Nothing is more beautiful than the candlelit Silent Night at the end. I still sing along loudly to most of the hymns, always slightly off key, and the Lord's Prayer is permanently burned into my brain. I even won a bookmark in 6th grade Sunday School for being able to recite all the books of the Bible in proper order. Impressive, yes? But in general, I'm more of a spiritual person. I have beliefs, but the only appeal of church is the sense of community, peace and the music. I'd still rather sleep in on Sundays. Maybe when we have a kid we'll attend more often.


But I'm a good person. Oh, maybe gossipy, and I procrastinate now and then. I can be bossy and judgmental. I've cursed a couple times today.  But on all the biggies: the adultery, the murdering, the respecting one's elders, I've not even dabbled. I'm good and generally quite well behaved, in fact a fairly decent role model it turns out. So I was really honored when my sister and brother-in-law Katy and Jim asked me to be my niece Tierney's godparent. I wouldn't call Jim and Katy particularly religious either. But they want to raise their children with a strong sense of right and wrong, a community for support and a sense of belonging in this world. They are great parents and they attend a lovely Catholic church in Madison, WI. And so Joe and I headed up to Madison last month to attend Tierney's baptism.



A huge contingent of family: Joe's parents, grandparents, Aunt Suzy and her boyfriend Steve, Joe and I and Joe's youngest brother Jon, all descended upon Madison to celebrate Tierney, hang out with Jim and Katy, Tierney's big brothers Connor and Jack, and generally fill up the days with family and chaos as we tend to do when we take over Jim and Katy's lives for the weekend!


Connor is currently obsessed with bungee cords and as we walked into Jim and Katy's house on Friday night, we found Aunt Suzy and her boyfriend, the very patient and kid friendly Steve, sitting very very closely together on the couch...no they weren't making out, Connor had bungeed them together. Joe and I received this same treatment when Connor woke us up the next morning and attempted to bungee us to the bed. It was adorable. And not particularly well executed. So Jim gave him some lessons. He's improving. And that is a little scary.


Here's Miss Tierney, the sweetest, smiley little charmer with those chubby baby wrists and shining blue eyes. She's a delight and starting to crawl. She's almost eight months old and somehow just gets more adorable every time we see her. That has to stop eventually, right? There's a cute limit isn't there?


We spent the weekend either running around playing with the kids or eating. It was perfect. Though Joe and I did sneak away for a quick lunch with some great internet friends, the lovely Amy and her husband John. Amy and I have connected through shared friends on Facebook, our mutual book nerdery and blogging, so it was wonderful to actually meet her and Jon in person. We had a delicious lunch at Graze in downtown Madison and wished we'd had more time to hang out. Again, the magic of the internet for bringing people together. But we had to get back to the clan!




Sunday was the baptism at Jim and Katy's church, officiated by Father Mike, who also officiated at Jim and Katy's wedding, and baptized Jack and Connor. Father Mike is so down to earth, friendly and so able to communicate clearly the meaning of the scripture in modern language, and helped clarify the message of the baptism readings. He is a wonderful part of Jim and Katy's family's life and almost makes me wish I was Catholic.


Joe's family, his grandmother's side, has baptized their babies in this delicate embroidered christening gown for almost 80 years, countless babies over several generations. Tierney looked beautiful and it's such a warm and important family tradition, sweet babies wrapped in this nearly paper thin confection that hardly shows any wear and tear even over all of these years. Tierney also wore a small pearl necklace from Katy's family that five of us tried to un-knot right before the service. Katy got it, I think. It will be a wonderful keepsake for Tierney, but she better keep her mom around to keep it un-knotted.


Uncle Chris, Katy's older brother was Tierney's other godparent, and made the best criss-cross sound effects when his turn came to place a cross on Tierney's forehead. It was awesome and I laughed in church. It was Chris' fault though.






After the baptism, we all headed back to Jim and Katy's house for the party. Katy's Aunt Bonnie is an amazing cook, and she, along with Katy and her mom Mary Jo, whipped up some delightful treats. Dips, and chicken salad, seafood, and some of the most amazing cake I've ever eaten, filled with fresh berries.




We played with the kids, shared a tasty meal, opened presents, got attacked by vicious towel bears, watched Tierney scoot backwards and almost forwards, and just enjoyed celebrating Tierney and celebrating the fact that we get to be a part of her extended family.
I'm just happy to be a part of the whole thing.



Joe and I watched an episode of the sitcom Up All Night the other day where Maya Rudolph's young Oprah type character thinks she is the godmother to Christina's Applegate's daughter. She shows up at the child's first birthday party, decked out in a super glittery sparkly disco ball of a silver dress, and brings with her a disturbing oil painting portrait of the child in historic royal garb. It's a hideous portrait and an insane move for a godmother, and I promise right now to never commission a creepy portrait of Miss Tierney. Though I already kind of want to buy her a pony. That's much more reasonable than a hideous oil painting, right?

I'm thrilled to be a part of Tierney's life and get to watch her grow up. I hope she feels like she can talk to me about anything, you know when she actually starts talking, ask me questions, share her hopes and fears and that I can be another person in the long list of people guaranteed to love this girl unconditionally. I take this role seriously, no matter how much I may joke. And I promise, no oil portraits. Promise. But I can't promise on the pony.


99% of the photos in this post are courtesy of the nearly perfect Joe Sands, of course.

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