Thursday, 9 September 2010

Alicia's Naming Ceremony

As I promised in the last post, here is the ceremony in full.

How cute is Ella's pledge?!

(ANNA)What is a naming ceremony?
Thank you for coming to this naming ceremony. A naming ceremony’s purpose is to officially give a baby their name and welcome them into the world. It is a non-religious christening. Today we celebrate the birth of Alicia, and welcome her into her community of family, godparents and our close friends.

Across the world ceremonies or rituals are used to define the more important stages of our lives. From these celebrations are born new roles, new relationships and new responsibilities.

For you all, as family and close friends this ceremony is an opportunity to consider the relationship that you will have with Alicia, and the role that you want to take in her upbringing.

Julia Moulton’s Reading
This reading is adapted from an American Indian Naming Ceremony:

Alicia Lily Higgs, born of two hearts
You are grace
You are beauty
You are love beyond measure
And gift without price

We are gathered this day
To introduce you to your greater family,
And to bless you, before the world
Even as we have been blessed by your birth!

We offer you to the Four Winds
That you might embrace adventure
And know the wonder of far-off lands

We offer you to the Sky
That you may steer by the stars
And never feel that you are far from home

We offer you to the Sun
That warmth and light may surround you always
And guide you safely on your way

We offer you to the Moon
That you may find comfort in darkness
And never have cause to fear the night

(ANNA) Alicia’s Name
Alicia is the Spanish form of Alice. This acknowledges John’s Spanish roots, and my side of the family as my grandmother was called Alice. We’ve chosen the english pronounciation Alicia instead of the Spanish a-LEE-thya.

Her middle name is Lily because it’s one of my favourite flowers and her sister Ella also has a fragrant flower as her middle name (Jasmin)

Alicia means NOBLE person. Dictionary defines noble as:

A person of high birth or rank (well she’s definitely our little princess)

Being very impressive or imposing in appearance (which she is with her bright blue eyes and amazing mop of hair!)

Having excellent qualities or abilities and an exemplary moral character (We will do our best to instill good values in her .We have chosen godparents who we think can inspire her with certain excellent qualities)

(JOHN) Being a Godparent

In children's stories, a fairy godmother makes an appearance just when she's needed most. With the wave of a wand, she can make everything right. Godparents might not have a magic wand, but their role in a child's life can have a magical effect.
It is said that the biggest gift a Godparent can give their Godchild is time.

We have chosen godparents who we think will be interested in Alicia and willing to get involved in her life. But we recognise that the role of godparent is theirs to make of what they will, and so we are asking each godparent today to make their own personal commitment, a pledge, to Alicia.

Godparents Introduction and Pledges

John’s Choices

I’ve chosen Julie for her strong sense of morality, her generosity and her strength in times of need. Most of all for her heart of gold. I’ve also chosen her partner Paul (known as Charlie to his friends) for his spirit of adventure and his drive to achieve his aspirations. And for his interest in culture, music and travel which I hope he will inspire Alicia with.

Julie and Charlie what is your pledge to Alicia?
We promise to use our experience of life to enhance your development. We also agree to be supportive whenever and wherever possible to help you fulfil your dreams.

I’ve chosen Paul for his gentleness, loyalty and sincerity. He is very charming in company and I hope he can pass this quality to Alicia.

Paul, what is your pledge to Alicia?
I promise to extend my friendship with John & Anna to you, their daughter. If you need someone to turn or talk to, I promise my door will always be open, and I will always listen.

I’ve chosen Selina for her caring nature, infectious laughter, enthusiasm for life and being a great confidante – which I’m sure she will be for Alicia.

Selina, what is your pledge to Alicia?
I promise to love, support, listen and encourage you. I promise to always be your friend, and will enjoy being a part of your life, watching you grow up, and find your way in the world.

Anna’s Choices
I’ve chosen Anna because she is my oldest and most loyal friend, and in the 23 years I’ve known her I’ve never heard her say a bad word about anyone. She never judges and she never complains, and she is a brilliant listener – qualities that will make her a great godparent to Alicia. I’ve also chosen Rob, Anna’s husband, because together they are raising their children in a way I completely agree with – in love and kindness but also with firm boundaries.

Anna and Rob, what is your pledge to Alicia?
We promise to encourage and praise you, give you the confidence to be you and express yourself. We will always believe in you. We promise to always be there for you, always listen to you and we will never judge you.

I’ve chosen Sarada because she is my oldest and one of my most treasured friends. She helped me immensely during Alicia’s birth, giving both me and John support and encouragement throughout. She is hugely generous with her time despite her busy life. She is strong, warm and loving and lots of fun and she has always given me excellent advice when I’ve needed it. I know she will be happy to do the same for Alicia, and will always welcome her with open arms – oh, and Sarada’s a great veggie cook so I’m sure Alicia will also appreciate that as much as I do!

Sarada, what is your pledge to Alicia?
My dear Alicia - what an honour to be chosen as your godparent! I promise to do my best to be whatever you need me to be - a shoulder to cry on, someone you can turn to for advice, someone to laugh and have fun with and definitely someone to feed you! I promise to help you find the strength and truth that lies within you to guide you on your journey through life. And I will love you with all my heart.

(JOHN) John and Anna’s Pledge
Thank you all for agreeing to be godparents to Alicia. She’s a lucky girl to have your support throughout her life. Alicia, we promise to be the best parents we can be, to love you and listen to you, to guide you and encourage you always. We want to help you enjoy your life, and to have the confidence to do whatever interests and inspires you.

(ELLA) Ella’s Pledge
Alicia I promise to care for you and play with you, and be a wonderful sister. I love you to bits and I always will.

(JOHN) (John’s Reading)
They say that:
A baby will make love stronger
Days shorter, Nights longer
Bankroll smaller, Clothes shabbier, Home happier,
The past forgotten,
And the future worth living for.

(ANNA) (Anna’s Reading) The following poem seems very fitting. It manages to encapsulate my attitude towards child rearing and to housework as well!
A Mothers Wish

I hope my child looks back on today
And sees a Mother who had time to play.
There will be years for cleaning and cooking,
But children grow up when you're not looking.
Tomorrow I'll do all the chores you can mention
But today, my baby needs time and attention.
So settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm cuddling my baby, and babies don't keep.

(JOHN) I’d like to propose a toast to Alicia Lily Higgs – may she have a fabulous life full of love and adventure. To Alicia Lily.
You now have the opportunity to take photos and then we’ll go to the Bunkfest - please join us for a little while but do feel free to wander off whenever you feel like it as there’s lots going on and we will be easy to find throughout the day – we’ll mainly be in the Kinecroft area.
Thank you all for coming.
Photo session then celebration at Bunkfest

Naming Ceremony

On Saturday we had a lovely do-it-yourself naming ceremony for Alicia. It was a perfect day.

We went to Wallingford Castle grounds with some champagne and around 30 people - mainly family and godparents with a few close friends. We'd asked the godparents to make a commitment to Alicia, a special pledge, and to write this in a special book for when she's older. We asked that the book was something that had meaning for them or had inspired them.

To the guests who wanted to bring something as a gift, we suggested they write a letter to Alicia which she can open on a milestone birthday - either 10,18 or 21.

The sun shone, the ceremony was heartfelt, and everyone enjoyed the Wallingford Bunkfest afterwards. I missed out on most of the fabulous entertainment as I was happy to just sit in the sunshine next to the donkeys and goats (who you could brush for £2) and chat to the guests whilst Alicia slept off the excitement of her Big Day.

I've never been to a naming ceremony before and there wasn't much inspiration on the internet so the next post is the naming ceremony in full in case you - or someone you know - are planning one too.

Oh, and I used a template from here to create a flyer with the readings, pledges and photos of Alicia as an 'order of service' and keepsake.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Status Anxiety

Since we got back from camping in the New Forest, where Ella roamed in relative freedom with other people's kids, I've let Ella off the leash a little. She's pretty sensible and road safety aware so she's now allowed to cycle unsupervised around the few streets that make up our neighbourhood.

She gets a taste of freedom, I get a break and everyone's happy.

The other day she made a friend while out on her bike. Ella doesn't go to school in the village so it's a wonderful thing that she has a new play mate living just sec
onds away from us. She returned home with a phone number, written on a scrap of paper by the girl's mother, and a verbal invitation to play at their house the next morning.

I was so pleased for her that I called her dad to alter our childcare agreement (he was due to have her that day). I called the mother and found myself rushing into waffle mode in an attempt to prove I'm not a negligent mother. I mean, who else lets their seven year old out alone nowadays?

After gushing about Ella's 'just down the street for ten minutes' boundaries, my having a new baby and Ella needing to do play outside when I'm busy with said baby and she's bored etc etc I eventually paused for breath and New Friend's Mother (NFM) invited me to drop Ella off and stay for a coffee. Lovely.

The next day, I discovered NFM has a HUGE house with a swimming pool and zip wire for the kids to play on. What a result for Ella!

While having tea with NFM, who seems very nice, and her neighbour who had popped round (also very nice) NFM's father-in-law appeared and was introduced to me as "Lord So-and-So". Actually, she said his first name but I've substitituted So-and-So in respect of his privacy.

Now, I've been to boarding school with a Right Honourable so I'm not phased by aristos but I got to thinking that my lower social status might be a barrier to Ella's burgeoning friendship.

I'm sure NFM doesn't expect her daughter to hang out solely with the progeny of nobility, but I suddenly felt acutely aware of the class divide and anxious that I would be found out and promptly discarded along with my daughter.

You see, I still retain a vaguely posh boarding school accent. My parents, a teacher and a retired Army Major, are stoically middle class. The majority of parents at Ella's state school think I'm posh (in the main, they don't 'speak proper like I does' despite living in Henley and they're mainly blue collar workers or can't be arsed to work). It could be misleading to someone I've just met.

However, I'm married to a plumber, I live in low rent accommodation (albeit in a very posh area) and my approach to housework is lax on a good day and fairly shocking the rest of the time.

Also, thanks to her peer group, Ella now says 'fanks' instead of 'thanks', regularly drops her Ts, favours the word 'innit' and has stopped calling me 'mummy' in favour of 'mum'. I may have slipped down the ranks somewhat since leaving school.

So, during tea with NFM I became concerned that Ella and I may soon be deemed to be decidedly NOCD (
a deplorable yet strangely amusing phrase used by Army officers' wives when assessing new aquaintances, their child's new boyfriend/girlfriend etc meaning 'Not Our Class Darling' - and by implication not to be associated with).

NFM asked that I pick Ella up from her play date slap bang in the middle of Alicia's nap time. Because Alicia, and of course I, had suffered an unusually early start that morning I explained how keen I was to stay at home so Little Liss could have her full nap so please could she send Ella home at noon.

Suspiciously, to me anyway, she offered to drop Ella off instead (it's less than a minute's walk to my house). I casually breezed 'no need to worry, I am happy for Ella to make her own way back' whilst secretly cringeing at the current disarray of my home and garden.

Unfortunately, NFM ignored my preference and turned up at my teeny tiny two bedroom bungalow with her kids and Ella.

Thank god they didn't come to the door but, horrendously, they lingered by the gate - gazing in wide eyed surprise/horror at the knee high grass on my lawn (we've been away for godsake and busy, um, very, very busy), John's white van parked outside and the rolls of old carpet dumped in next door's garden (they're in the middle of redecorating).

To quote that floppy haired chap in Four Weddings and a Funeral Oh f*ck. F*ckity f*ckity f*ck.

On the bright side, J has now mowed the lawn in a fit of shame and I have taken to sweeping the floors once a day (it used to be once a fortnight) - and am contemplating mopping them in the near future. Once I figure out where we keep the mop...