It was an abject lesson in how there are still some cultural differences that I have absolutely no clue about.
First and foremost are the bomboniere, little gifts given to the invitees as a memento. Attached are usually a small sack of sugar covered almonds (5 or 7 for good luck) and a small tag with the child's name and birthdate.
Usually these things are obnoxious bric-a-brac; I have more than a few of these gathering dust and barely remember for who's birth/baptism/communion/wedding/etc they are attached.
As Mon Amour and I were in full agreement on this point of view vis-a-vis impersonal dust catchers, we decided to DIY. I got my Martha Stewart on and made bows and sacks of the sugared almond confetti. For the memento we made imprints of Lil' Peanut's hand with her name stamped alongside. And for the tag we went double sided business card size with a photo of her in her baptismal gown on one side and Mommy's graphic designer skills denoting the occasion on the reverse.
Her baptismal gown was worn by myself and her two aunties. Go go retro polyester chic.
For the after party I switched gears and got my Julia Childs on, making cold pasta salad, hummus and tabbouleh and babba ganoush and mini meatballs. A friend of ours made a gorgeous two layer chocolate cake with delicate sugar and fondant flowers.
We were expecting about 40 people plus attendant kids; needless to say not everyone showed up and, since I already cook to excess for army sized hordes, we have a lot of leftovers (except the cake)
I was already sort of in culture shock just from the size of the guest list; I remember my youngest siblings' baptism as being immediate family and the godparents. Said group would give some religiously inspired gifts to the child, everyone might grab something to eat after and that was it.
Here you invite *everyone*, or at least you do when your husband is from Naples. I took the guest list size in stride; after all we have the whole baby shower thing stateside, n'est pas?
I was not prepared for the gifts.
Holy fuck y'all.
My kid has more expensive jewelry before her first birthday than her mother did by her 16th birthday. And not just given by very close friends and family; more than one acquaintance of Mon Amour contributed to my jaw dropping.
Some of our friends wanted to get us a baby food maker. I tried aforehand to deviate them towards what I thought might be a more economical bracket of gift options; seeing as I have limited counter space in my kitchen I told them a baby food maker was a one trick pony i didnt want to ride and never fear, we would be buying a food processor in the near future.
I got a mms from them a few days before the baptism asking if this was the model of baby food maker I wanted.
I quickly googled up an inexpensive food processor and sent them the pic of that, resigned to the fact that my previous suggestion of "maybe some summer dresses and children's books" was going to be ignored.
You see where this is going, right?
Come present opening time, our friends proudly announced as we began unwrapping that they hadn't gotten us the one I had sent the picture of "because that was an old model"
So we now have a food processor sitting in our kitchen that does everything short of eating your food for you.
Peanut I promise to take good care of it, and when you leave home (sniff sniff - at the rate you're going, you'll be asking for daddy's car keys,like, tomorrow) you will have a really bitching food processor to eat ramen and Nutella out of...