The first sacrament that Catholic babies experience is baptism. My husband and I decided on baptism dates for each of our girls long before they were born. Perhaps that is due to my organized nature (since we’ve me some Catholics who don’t think about baptism until after their babies are born) or on the importance we place on baptizing our babies as soon as we can.
So, in December, when I was only 3 months pregnant, we began talking to our families about possible baptism dates. Planning a date takes a lot of coordination with our families since we live in Illinois and our families don’t. My family lives in Florida and my husband’s family resides in Iowa. Then, when you factor in that our parish only holds baptisms on the first and third Sundays of the month combined with my husbands complicated work schedule, our options are limited.
After much negotiation, we realized that we might have to wait until September or October. I decided to take a chance and contacted our priest to see if he’d be willing to hold our new daughter’s baptism on an alternative weekend (not the first or third Sunday). The worst that could happen would be him saying no. What did it hurt to ask? So, I called the parish office and left him a message requesting a baptism on June 28, the fourth Sunday of June.
A few days later, Father Bob called me back and asked why we wanted to hold the baptism then. I explained the situation and he agreed to do it. He ended the conversation with, “Now, don’t go telling everyone in the parish I’m doing this. I can’t let that information get out.” (So now you know and are hereby sworn to secrecy. Shhh!)
The day of Samantha’s baptism arrived this past weekend. My good friend and Samantha’s (and Ginny’s) godmother arrived Friday night for the festivities. The rest of our families came on Saturday. My parents came in the morning to help us get our house and food ready. They left right before lunch just as Chris’s parents, brother, and his family arrived. Later that afternoon my sister and her kids stopped by to spend a couple of hours with us.
The next morning, after attending Mass in the morning, our families joined us at our home for a party to celebrate Samantha’s baptism. A few more family members (aunts and uncles) joined us.
The day was filled with lots of talking and laughter. Everyone got to meet our baby girl and hold her. The only chance I got to hold my daughter was when she needed to nurse. My husband quipped, “At least you have that.”
As most of the adults sat around talking, Ginny and Grace got to spend the day playing with all of their cousins, a rare treat. It was the first time since my wedding that all my nieces and nephews spent time together. From what I could see, they had a great time.
Lucky for us, the rain held off long enough for my husband to grill the two dozen hamburgers I made as well as some bratwurst and hot dogs. As my husband grilled, the kids all played in the backyard. We could tell they had fun when we noticed how covered in dirt they were. Good thing they were all in their play clothes.
Soon after everyone finished eating, the rain came down. We took the time to gather and open presents. Of course, Chris and I were not allowed to open presents. Ginny and Grace took over that task, as it seems is the right of all children everywhere. We followed the gifts with some tasty cake.
Then, as we looked at the clock, we realized we needed to get ready for the baptism. All the kids came out of their dirty play clothes and got cleaned up for the church. I changed into something more appropriate as did my husband. We loaded into all our vehicles and headed to our parish.
A little after 3 p.m., Samantha received her first sacrament as a Catholic. We anticipated tears as Father Bob poured holy water over her head, but our newly blessed daughter slept. Instead, the only ruckus came from Ginny and Grace who chose to misbehave as their baby sister was baptized. The baptismal font fascinated them to the point that I thought one or both might fall in to it. At one point during the baptism, our priest quietly said to us and her godparents, “Maybe I should include an exorcism,” to which I responded, “Could you?”
My family stayed and followed us home. From there, we went out to dinner at a local restaurant my husband and I enjoy. After finishing dinner, we hugged my family as we told them goodbye since they were all heading back to Florida.
I was reminded this weekend of my many blessings. I love my family and am loved by them. My children fill me with joy (and frustration) and God is present in my life. Samantha received the blessing of baptism, and I saw how blessed I am.