The weather was perfect, nearly 70 degrees. My cousin Jim, the godfather and his wife, godmother arrived the night before with two of their three kids. Eliza and her cousins enjoyed their first sleepover together in the playroom and surprised us parents by actually sleeping.
The day of the christening was special but I had everything pretty well organized. I ordered sandwiches from the excellent deli down the street and had my father pick up the cake and fruit platter from Wegman's. My only culinary contribution was a pear/arugula soup that had only partially defrosted but it quickly thawed on the stove and I threw it in the crock pot to heat while we were at the church.
Getting Elena ready was fun. Leslie brought the christening gown her godmother made for her daughter Isabel. It is a gorgeous long white gown that is fitted on top but flows down well past the feet. She looked like a fairy princess with a long trailing, train. Leslie had to put it on and it was a bit complex and Eliza and her cousins Daniel and Isabel helped. Then I made sure to get pictures of Elena with her godparents, cousins and sister. No good photo of Eliza in her christening gown exists as C was rushing me and bossing me around that day. This time, I relished the fact that he would arrive shortly before the church ceremony and the prep time would unfold without the stress of his commands. I do regret being so focused on getting photos of her with various people that I forgot to get one good photo of her alone in the dress. So every occasion carries it's own regrets.
When C arrived with his two kids, we took more photos and then walked to the church. We got there to find Aunt Carmie, my godmother, the only one there. Soon we were all assembled and we found we'd be the only family there that day which made the occasion solely ours.
Elena was her usual, mellow self. She was pretty tired at this point but she quietly sucked her thumb during most of the prayers. Daniel and Isabel, eager to help, became the Priest's assistants. Holding open the bible, Daniel became an integral part of the service. Leslie was every bit the doting, attentive godmother, unfastening Elena's gown so the priest could reach her neck and then refastening it at just the right moment. Leslie held her for the big moment when the water splashed her head. It was truly a lovely time.
A large group of us walked back to my place to enjoy the beautiful weather. I expected 29 people at my apartment, 26 showed up. I am a perfectionist and it wasn't perfect--the gallon of iced tea I'd made was gone in 15 minutes, I forgot to put serving spoons on the fruit platter, my father forgot to bring enough ice to fill the ice bucket. But it was still a wonderful day and considering I'd done it all with very little help, everything went smoothly. When I made the toast, celebrating my godmother, the fact that my mother is Jim's godmother and now he is my daughter's godfather, and Eliza's wonderful godmother Michelle, I really felt the warmth and love of everyone. C's family is annoying, as always, but it was wonderful to see his kids interact with Jim's kids. It was the kind of family gathering we used to have at my grandmother's and it was wonderful.
My grandparents have yet to see Elena, rotting away in an assisted living facility far, far away. It will cost me around 1,000 bucks to see them which is why I've not made the trip yet. But I miss them. One one table I put a bottle of wine from Abruzzi, my grandmother's native region of Italy. On the other table, I placed a bottle of wine from Calabria, my grandfather's homeland. This was my way of making them part of our day.
Congratulations Elena. I am blessed to have such a joyful, wonderful, beautiful little girl.