Yesterday was hot and sunny and breezy--the perfect day, apparently, for a family festival.
Our family is very much involved with an apostolate movement--not to the extent that we would like to be, but that will come in the fullness of time. One of My Darling's aunts is a professed sister in this particular order, so it's naturally been a part of his life since, well, forever, and now our family is part of it, too.
When the festival chair called me back in March and asked if we'd be willing to be in charge of organizing the games, My Darling and I prayed about it and decided it sounded like a fine idea...and so we were. In charge of games, that is.
I'm here to tell you that these sisters have this thing down so well that all we had to do was buy lollipops and soda (for two of the games), look over the games to make sure all the parts were there, make sure each game had it's laminated poster explaining the rules, and then show up to set them up. Easy-peasy! I continue to be amazed at how organized this whole thing was! There were people who called volunteers to man every station (food, games, garage sale, various posts...) over two shifts, set-up and clean-up, and Fr. E. even came to say Mass late in the day for the workers who had been there all day so we didn't have to worry about missing our Sunday obligation. It was really wonderful.
During the planning stages, I had an idea. Last year, a friend and I ended up hunting for a comfortable place to sit and nurse our babies, who were hot, tired, and thirsty. We ended up inside the building which houses the convent, tucked away in a quiet, comfortable corner. It's not that this place is inhospitable; it's just that the festival was taking place outdoors (as festivals are wont to do), and there just didn't happen to be a place that was truly comfortable for us to lounge with our babes-in-arms.
So my idea was this: a tented area, with comfy chairs, a changing station, and plenty of shade for all of the mamas with babies. And here's what we did: we took our pop-up shelter and alllllll of our camping chairs (including the folding rocker that My Darling bought for me when I had the Monkey). We packed up our Pack & Play, complete with changing table and supply caddy. We grabbed some flat sheets and clamps to hang from the sides to provide much-needed shade. I snagged some baby toys which had been packed up for a long time. We even threw in some diapers that My Darling had bought a case of, which ended up being rather ill-fitting for the Monkey, and a bunch of wipes of which we seemed to have an endless supply. A five-gallon bucket, lined with a bag, filled the position of garbage can. I brought along our indoor-outdoor carpet which we generally have outside either our tent or our camper, and a few blankets to spread out for the babies to play upon. I even had the linky-do chain thing hung above the changing table area with brightly colored friends hung from it so the little ones had something to look at while their Mamas cleaned them up. I had chairs for Mamas and little ones, and they were almost always occupied. The shade and the breeze kept us all more toward the comfortable side. We had a cooler stocked with ice-cold bottles of water to help keep nursing Mamas well hydrated. We left one side of the shelter uncovered so that we could see the bigger little kids playing in the sandbox and on the swingset. Babies played, Mamas talked, naps were taken, and at a few points we had drop in visitors--daddies, priests, curious onlookers who wondered what this "Mama's Tent" was all about--it was very festive! The only things missing were husbands fanning us with palm fronds and feeding us grapes.
This whole time, Frog, Pickle and Reepicheep were running various games, and My Darling was checking in with the game volunteers, making sure things were running well and that they were taken care of in the heat. There were people making rounds with a cooler on a wagon, offering cold drinks to the volunteers. There was music and frivolity throughout the day. It was a great atmosphere for families--no "beer tent" to distract the parents and draw in people who come only to drink beer. The music was family friendly, from the folk singer to the Irish dancers, to the family who brought their own "oom-pah" style band to play polkas. There were crafts and religious goods and baked items for sale, and two lovely young ladies making rounds with baskets, dressed as the "cookie angels"!
One of the best blessings yesterday was that both of the Bean's godparents were there. I had a wonderful visit with each of them, including a long talk with Fr. E. about letting go of the need to have everything My Way, for Pete's sake. I've been in a bit of a dilemma: with Fr. E as the Bean's godfather, it's not exactly easy to figure out when to have the baby baptized. We go to an 11:00 Sunday Mass, but Fr. E. has a 10:30 about 40 miles away. That doesn't really work too well when my ideal has been to have the baby baptized at the 11:00 Mass. All of our children have been baptized at Sunday Mass, being welcomed into the faith community by the people with whom we pray and worship every week. It's been an important tradition. Fr. E. reminded me, though, that if we want a priest as a godfather, we might have to be flexible with this. Rats. That's not what I wanted to hear. But it is definitely more important to us to have this good man as godfather for our child. Oh, what to do??
Fr. E.'s idea was wonderful. Since the baby is due in early December, I had thought about an Advent baptism. But he suggested the Octave of Christmas, when there are some beautiful feast days. He said that perhaps we could consider an early evening event, when people wouldn't have to worry about missing work, so our friends and family would be free to join us to celebrate this lovely occasion. Then afterward, we could gather together in the parish hall and share a meal.
I must admit, I really hesitated to let go of control in this situation. But if there is anything I've learned over the past several years, it's that God's way is the best, that He is the only One truly in control, and that His timing is always perfect. God has placed our dear friend Fr. E. in our lives for a reason, and we have been greatly enriched through this friendship. Our whole family has been brought closer to Jesus and Mama Mary through this time, and Fr. E. has played a huge role in this. I've also learned a little something about obedience--that it is good and rewarding, especially when it's entered into with a joyful heart. Having a wonderful husband and some truly faithful priests around me have only served to confirm this for me.
So I said to him, "You talk with Mnsgr. H. and pick a time and day that works for both of you, and tell me when to be there. I'll bring the baby."
The more I think on it, the happier I am with this arrangement. The octave of Christmas truly is one of the most joyous times of the liturgical year, and the music and Masses are transformative. The whole atmosphere surrounding that time--the solemnity of Midnight Mass, the explosive joy of Christmas, the colors and smells and sounds all add to the swelling of my heart, even at the thought. To have our child brought into the church at that time will certainly give us good reason to rejoice!