When our baby Gene was born, my partner Martin and I had already decided during our pregnancy that there was going to be no christening/baptism or anything along those lines as we simply didn’t go to church or follow a religion.
Don’t get me wrong — we have no problem with people choosing to go down that route; we’ve been to a really lovely Church of England christening recently that was very moving, but we just didn’t feel comfortable choosing a religion for our little man to follow that we didn’t truly believe in or could commit to raising Gene to the standards and beliefs of a religion. Whilst my fella Martin is christened, I’m not … so I couldn’t really see the point in doing it for our bambino.
Genie was born and we threw ourselves into bringing him up in our own bumbling way (turns out that even if you’ve never even held a baby before, you’re pretty good at knowing what to do with your own!) Visitors came and went, family started pestering us a lot more and Gene’s community started to build up around him. When Gene reached about 9 months old, we started to wish that we’d done something to mark his birth, and after attending the naming ceremony of a little girl whose parents we met at antenatal classes, we decided that we wanted to go down a similar route.
So, we set ourselves to task: 6 weeks to figure out exactly what we were going to do, where we were going to do it and how we were going to feed the 50 or so guests we wanted to invite!
After looking at the local village hall, the venue decision was easy — a tent up on our front lawn would be the perfect setting. Next came the food issues. Luckily, our mums are amazing cooks and my mother set to work on making all the savoury dishes (quiches, salmon, salads, huge bowls of olives, cooked meats, breads, cheeses and all sorts of delicious stuff!) and Martin’s mum got to work making desserts, including two amazing Norwegian celebration cakes (did I mention Martin was half Norwegian?)
So, food sorted, tent bought, posh clothes bought for the baby and a new frock for me and we were almost ready — except what were we going to say and do?! We decided to keep it simple; ultimately the day was an excuse to show off our beautiful boy, get our families together and for our various groups of friends to mingle a bit.
We came up with a script for us to read (this later went out of the window in places on the day as I struggled to keep my emotions in check and kept bursting out crying!) We basically explained the choices behind Gene’s names, thanked some special people in our lives and made promises to Gene about the way we hoped to raise him and that we would support and honour him not matter what choices he made with his life.
Our little ceremony happened in the tent, then, as it was a beautiful day, everybody spread around the garden to chat, eat and drink. It really was a great day and a great way of letting people know how committed we were to our little boy, as well as one another and how much everyone there meant to us and the role that they would play in Gene’s life.
We’ve since had loads of feedback from guests about how much people enjoyed the day, how nice it was to do something that honoured our lifestyle and morals, rather than pick the same old traditional thing because that’s what you ‘do’. And the cake went down a treat! Gene was beautifully behaved and seemed to relish all the attention that was bestowed on him.
I think it’ll be really nice when Gene is older for him to look over the photos and videos of the day, read the comments in his guest book and look at the promises that we made to him and to see how many people showed up because they care about him. I’m so glad we decided to do something for Gene and look forward to repeating the experience with any future kids we have.