So in the last two weeks, Emily and I went to Boston to see my brother and his family for his 5 month old sons christening.
My brother and I have often joked that in order for two of the three siblings to be in the same place at the same time, the third sibling must be forced out into the ether in a triangular manner. We are like the Highlander. We do not exist at the same time in the same place so one must observe closely when we are, as it is a rare and special sighting.
In addition to the rarity sighting of more than one of my siblings in the presence of another is the humor factor...which gets ramped up into the stratosphere. If there is one person who "gets" me, it is my brother. I did, after all, send his newborn son a "Punisher" onesie... which freaked his wife out a little - the giant skull and all, but my brother was overjoyed.
So there we are. Me, Donnie and Emily, all looking less comfortable in church than the other. Emily is watching the statues carefully since she is convinced they plan on coming to life and touching her, I am looking up at the ceiling, hoping not to catch the eye of the priest who is going to know of my religious ambivalence and start throwing holy water on me....and then there is my brother who is clearly desperately trying to appear vaguely interested...especially as he has been seated with wife and child in the very front pew.
Having come in late, Em and I sneak into the side pews. I throw some holy water on Em as we walk into the church and do a pathetic attempt to bless her and me as we skulk down the aisle. There is deep affront on her part: "WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?" she whispers fiercely.
"JUST COME ON!" I whisper back. We get seated and catch Donnie's eye to let him know his family has arrived, versus bursting into flames at the front door - which we had even money on, really.
Donnie's wife, Keri, is a gracious and lovely woman. She beckons us over to where they are sitting ( in the front of the freaking church). Donnie is looking pained.
Em - being an 11 year old - leaps up at being beckoned and hustles ACROSS the church, crossing from the extreme left of the church, across center aisle to where Donnie et al are seated. Since my child has abandoned me, I now must follow - apologizing to everyone she has trampled over to get to the front while trying to keep that hunched over stance as we are in the MIDDLE of a religious service.
I sit. Emily grabs my arm. In her rush to get to the front, she has failed to assess the potential statue strategic positioning. We are now MUCH closer to the statues in all their bloody, open heart, pained expressioned selves.
I lean into my brothers neck and whisper "Are all these people here for you?" because there are ALOT of people in this church. I mean, I assume he is a popular guy and all, but there are WAY more people at this christening then I think came to the wedding. Plus, leaning into his neck and whispering has the added benefit of not having to make eye contact with the priest who is very very close to me.
Donnie whispers back that it is a group baptism. I was unaware that the Catholic church has gone all Sams Club with it's baptisms. 7 babies for one low low price! But hey - I got the kid who is offended when I fling holy water on her, so I am no religious parenting icon.
I lean back and resume my careful examination of the ceiling and the fans. The priest, a jolly Ted Kennedy looking kind of guy decides to mix it up - get the youth involved in the service. He gives a speech about welcoming the babies into ye olde Holy Catholic family, yadda, yadda , yadda - and then he breaks this little unexpected request out.
Can the older children come up and put their hands on the baptismal font and pray over it to help make it holy water?
And he points at my daughter. Directly at her.
She is a heathen deer in the headlights. She doesn't know WHAT to do. She half stands, then sits. I am whispering to her "You don't have to go up there!", while the priest continues to point and stare at her, and she stands back up...then sits, and does this TWO MORE times. Her uncle and I are both looking at her saying "You don't have to go up there, its OK" as the nieces and nephews of my sister in law watch with astonishment.
Emily moves to her game closing move. Sit down and hide her face in my shoulder. That will teach Lord Voldemort the priest to point and stare at the agnostic kid in the pews.
From here on out, the priest stayed mighty close to my brother and I in the front two rows. I resumed my ceiling watching, as the priest talked about rebuking Satan - which frankly seemed a little excessive to me.
Wasn't it a bit late to be stating allegiances? I mean we WERE in a church and all. Wasn't this something that could be safely assumed? Lots of Satanists jumping up mid baptism ceremony? I now study my choice of shoes. A lovely deep brown leather slingback, stilleto heel and pointed toe. More Satan talk in front of me. Voices Rebuking behind me. Emily in my shoulder. "Aren't you glad I never subjected you to this?", I whisper.
"Those statues are creeping me out", she replies.
I hear ya sister. Kind of how I feel about all this unnecessary Satan rebuking. Now if you want to rebuke Satin, I could get behind you. In this summer heat, Satin is completely unneeded. And frankly frivolous.
We stumble towards the end of this never ending Satan rebukation. Father Voldemort decides to start the Lords Prayer - which I know having been well indoctrinated in Catholicism before I had the wherewithal to flee. I look around at the congregation thinking, "I'm pretty sure I never taught any of this to Emily" and glance down at her. She is fake mouthing words - perhaps to a Jonas Brothers song?
"What are you saying?". I whisper. She shrugs her shoulders and continues to fake mouth words.
Aw, thats my girl. Fake it till you make it, baby.
This was in 2009...my brother welcomed another son into the world this past month...which means, of course, we are going to have to go back to the church. A fact which Emily knit together today, saying:
"I don't think we should sit so close to the front this time".