Monday, 24 September 2012

Christening


Great- or Grand-Nephew Bertie (not sure of the correct terminology – he’s my niece’s son; come to think of it she’s my niece by marriage rather than blood, so that complicates it further: Grand-Nephew-in-Law?  I quite fancy being a Grand-Uncle-in-Law) got christened on Sunday, in Jersey, and I was there.  Something I don’t experience that often, so I thought I’d jot down a few notes, in no particular order, just for the record.

Bertie, who is five months old, is one of those people who will look at a situation, assess it and decide on the appropriate reaction, before actually reacting.  Much like his mother.  So he decided that all this talk, in an unfamiliar language, needed a bit of pepping up, and joined in.  His father, who seemed a bit embarrassed by this, briefly took him off to see the church organ, which obviously made more sense than the Order of Service, and was a bit less boring.

The water-splashing-on-the-head bit, though, was obviously what he’d been expecting and looking forward to.  I wish you could have seen Bertie’s face just after this when the vicar turned him right-way-up to face the congregation.  Astonishment, delight, a tickle of resentment, even a wry raised eyebrow – I imagined I saw all of these.  Who’s to say?  I’ll ask him in ten years’ time.  (No I won’t.  But I thought he was thinking those thoughts.)

As part of the service, a relative gets to do a reading of their choice (subject presumably to divine approval).  N announced her reading as “a poem you will probably know – ‘If’, by Rudyard Coupling – erm, Kipling.”  She swore to me afterwards that it wasn’t deliberate, but I don’t believe her.
 
I’ve recently expressed some rather feeble reservations about a Christening being bracketed with a birthday, an anniversary, or even a funeral as an excuse for a piss-up.  It seemed to me that it was, uniquely, a Christian religious ritual, of initiation rather than celebration – a thought that was reinforced by the actual ceremony, as sensitively conducted by the clever worldly vicar.  But then we got back to the house and champagne started to flow, downwards, and the hog-roast got carved, and I put such childish qualms behind me.

3 comments :

  1. Any excuse for a party, I reckon. Or none at all, come to that.

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  2. Some babies do have that knack of making you think that they know absolutely everything about everything and you, foolish adult, know nothing.

    My brother and his wife haven't had either of their children christened but they still had the party for each child and called it a "naming day". Jolly nice they were too.

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  3. There's nothing inherantly un-Christian about a piss-up is there?

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