Safe Celebrations

It was a Baptism unlike all others. Planned for Easter Sunday, our grandson was to be baptized with both Carl and Chelsea’s families in full attendance. But it was quickly derailed by the arrival of COVID-19. As the months went by, the likelihood of gathering continued to dwindle, and baby Crosby quickly outgrew the heirloom gown he was going to wear (handmade for my dad 106 years ago). With his first birthday rapidly advancing, new plans were laid. And then re-planned with the ever-changing landscape of COVID.

Careful precautionary measures were put in place. The ceremony would take place outdoors, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Chelsea’s family would arrive a few days beforehand and celebrate the birthday and baptism together. Our family would stay afterwards, for a second round of festivities. We would only meet at the baptism, separated by distance and masks.

It all sounded as safe as possible, combined with staying in an AirBnB where we could retreat to our own space. But soon even those arrangements increased in risk. Rich’s recent open heart surgery put him in a new class of vulnerability. In his weakened condition, was it wise to drive to Milwaukee, where the COVID rates were far higher than home? Should we be gathering with family, even at a distance?

I didn’t want to face the decision. Forging ahead, I poured my heart into creating a new baptismal gown for Crosby. I chose sturdier (and warmer) wedding gown satin in place of Dad’s delicate fabric. Replicating the inset lace took some googling for instructions, but I relished recreating the slanted lace decoration on the skirt, then added it to the sleeves for good measure. Sewing fed my soul and was a welcome diversion from coronary woes.

Dad’s baptismal gown
Crosby’s new gown

As the date approached, so did apprehension, but holding it at bay in favor of family unity we made the journey. As if to smile with favor on the plans, God delivered a beautiful morning for the baptism – brisk November air with deep blue skies mirrored in Lake Michigan’s waters, sunshine radiating limited warmth and infinite light.

Crosby's Baptismal day

Well bundled to ward off the chill and masked against COVID, the baptism proceeded. No church would have been more sacred. No ceremony more holy. No congregation more thankful to be present. We all bore witness to God’s love and acceptance.

Crosby baptism 1
Crosby baptism 2
Maren with baptismal candle
Carl Chelsea and family after baptism

The ceremony complete, we moved to Carl and Chelsea’s front yard where the sun lingered and so did we. It lasted long enough to savor the morning and its significance among those we love.

Soon afterward, the weather turned windy, wet and stormy as if to close the chapter on the baptism. Rich and I retreated to the seclusion of our AirBnB, where he rested and remained segregated from the rest of the clan. But as the afternoon waned, I returned briefly for one more occasion – Crosby’s first birthday. Documented with pictures and a full report for Rich.

Chelsea and Crosby with birthday decorations
Crosby and birthday cake

We have all been inspired to inventiveness throughout this year of COVID. It’s not over yet, and we will continue to be challenged to find ways to celebrate yet remain safe. Surely this was one for the family history books.

2 thoughts on “Safe Celebrations

  1. Beautiful Story – Beautiful Gown!… I myself had a baptism gown my Grandmother made for me worn by my first born son Eric. When my daughter arrived 51 WEEKS later (yes under a year) I had determined to do something special for her too so that each of the kids had baptismal gowns for their first child’s baptism. While in the hospital after Kori’s birth I was waking the hallway to get some exercise. There were several nurses at the nursing station Ooooing and Aaaaaing. So I stopped an butt my nose into their group where they were passing around pictures of one of their patients babies baptism. It was extraordinary…and I had to ask where the gown was made or purchased. The patient responded it was hand made but made from her wedding gown. OMG! I immediately called a local seamstress, pulled my wedding dress from the attic and delivered it to her within 5 days. She expertly cut the dress apart. using the neckline for my daughter neck. One of the long sleeves were used to make the arms so that the very cuff of her dresses sleeve matched mine. It was my wedding dress in miniature. So it rivaled the history of my baptismal gown that was reserved for Eric’s first born. So if you have anther grandchild…here’s an idea for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s