Beautiful Chaos

Detail from the "Baptism Window" at ...
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We didn’t expect much of a crowd this weekend. After all, it’s our fourth child, and the only reason we got a lot of attention this go-round was the NICU drama.

I asked my cousin–my oldest, best friend, ever since she was four and I was five and we lived three thousand miles away from each other–and her husband to be godparents for Michael, and I set the baptism for New Year’s Day, thinking that travel might be less inconvenient during the holidays, and also knowing that my youngest sister, who lives a long way away too, would be able to attend. Total count, including other siblings and grandparents: fifteen. Your basic family holiday get-together.

Oh, yes, and there are local family members, too. Add three or four for uncle, aunt, and a cousin or two.

Then my cousin’s parents—my godparents—decided to come in as well. I was thrilled–it was so special to have them present. Then another of their children decided to join the party. And my 96-year-old grandmother’s sister decided to come in and visit her family, and recruited a third sister to bring her from the airport into town. And somehow it seemed wrong to exclude the rest of the uncles and aunts on my dad’s side of the family, who would otherwise have trouble finding a time to see each other over the holidays at all. And then how do you exclude their children (with families of their own) who would like to see their cousins?

And then my in-laws, who we had originally thought weren’t going to be able to come, decided after all that they would drive in for the occasion.

That is how a small affair becomes beautiful chaos, causing my mother to hyperventilate and me to stress, causing us to move the venue from our house to the church cafeteria, prompting dozens of phone calls begging for help in feeding the multitudes, and my dad to respond to my desire to keep things simple with an ironic, “We’re way beyond that, Kate.”

It was a beautiful day, a beautiful ceremony, chaos-laden, and one I will remember forever. If only I had remembered to take the picture of the whole crowd, the one I intended to use to illustrate this post. If only I could find the cable to offload the pictures from the camera this dark January morning, before I dash upstairs to get Alex out of bed for his first day of school post-Christmas. Oh well. You know. Chaos.