I do not own (most of) these characters and I make no profit from their use.

Maisie's Christening

Prologue

Catherine Everett was feeling very pleased about how nicely all of her plans for the christening party of her newest grandchild were working out. The date was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, right after the regular Sunday service at St. Andrew's. Pastor Paul was officiating and Pastor Jason was to help him. The ceremony of course was very simple, but following it, they would all return to their house for the party, about forty or more guests in all.

Despite the fact that the guest list had been pared back to only closest family and friends, Phoebe still thought that it was too big. However, this time her son came down on her side and said that as long as the total number did not exceed fifty, she could go ahead with her plans. Phoebe could not even object that there was too much work for her, since her son Ben was footing the bill for a caterer who would bring along a couple of wait staff to help.

She was happy that David, Annabel, and Charlie would be staying at their house. It would give her the chance to get to know them all better. And it was nice that all of the young people would be staying at the local hotel together. This was the kind of situation that would allow all of them more of the kind of informal bonding time they would have had if there had been a big wedding. There was only one bit of oddness about the christening that still bothered her.

She still for the life of her could not imagine why Tom Williams was to be the child's godfather. After all, despite the fact that he was the grandfather to the other three children, he was no relation at all to the Everetts or the Figalillys. She knew that there was some kind of sentimental foolishness involved on Phoebe's part, but it still didn't make sense.

During the emotional time that they had passed through with young Trelawney last summer she, for whatever reason, had declared that he was the "good king," whatever that meant. Well, she did know what, it meant, but he was an odd choice even for that role. And then there was the fanciful notion that Phoebe had had when she swore that the first person to feel the baby kick was him, after he had offered himself as a surrogate grandparent to the child.

But all of that seemed very far away now, and as they had returned to the more mundane world from Trelawney's fantastic world of archetypes, she could no longer see the choice as appropriate. No, one had to do these things right among the families. Since Emmeline, a Figalilly, was the godmother, the godfather should obviously have been an Everett. And she wasn't exactly pleased with the response that she got when she had hinted around at this to Phoebe.

"Well," was her answer. "Since neither Bob nor Ben belong to any church, it would have been a bit awkward to ask either to stand in as a future spiritual guide for the child. Emmeline may claim to be an atheist, but she was raised in the Church of England and still goes occasionally. No Figalilly could ever be a true atheist anyway. She just likes to push her parents' buttons with all that nonsense."

She had no answer for that. Once they had been confirmed, Bob and Ben had both refused to go to church. Hal had barely paid lip service to the faith, as did his first wife Helen. It had been a bit of a struggle to get the other three baptized. In fact, it had been one of the only things that she and Bernice had agreed upon. For this reason, Helen had been much less fussy about godparents.

Keeping that in mind, she didn't mention it again. She knew only too well that if she tried to initiate another discussion, her son would agree with his wife and point out that Bob was Hal's godfather and Ben was Butch's. And they had never lifted a finger to encourage their involvement in religion.

In fact, Hal would be a couple of years late in making his confirmation in the spring because he had not been going to church at all until Phoebe had come. He would be making it with Trelawney, underscoring for her, her son's lax attitude toward church until recently. Even now, she suspected that he only did his weekly duty for his wife's sake.

She thought that it was a pity that Pastor Jason was not Episcopal priest. Pastor Paul at their church was kind and good with the older folk, but not very interested in the young people. Only Trelawney and Prudence had any real enthusiasm for their church and Prudence's was more social than religious. Hal's new girlfriend Sharon regularly attended church because she wanted to, but she was Catholic like Trelawney's friend Francine. Given the choice, her grandson would go with her and in fact, to Phoebe's displeasure, he was hinting that he would do that after he was confirmed.

She thought that it was something that, wise as Phoebe was where children were concerned, she should leave be. If Hal felt no real loyalty towards the denomination of Christianity into which he had been baptized it was certainly no fault of hers. She should be grateful that at a time when churchgoers, especially young people, were dropping like flies, he wanted to attend some form of church. And Father Bob at St. Peters was an energetic pastor and amusing character. Like Pastor Jason, he was young and got along well with the youth in his flock. It clearly made a difference.

Besides, the one who really needed some moral guidance right now was Butch, who seemed to be growing more antagonistic towards his father every day. Rob's comment was that he needed a little reminder of the fourth commandment about honoring his father and mother. Hal thought that it was a waste of time and his brother, Hal, would have preferred to simply "clobber" him.

However, Butch had promised Rob that he would be on his best behavior for the Christening, so there wasn't much else for it at the moment. Her greater concern was Trelawney, who had been buzzing around anxiously lately as she waited for the family to arrive. She knew that she wanted to see her Auntie Anna, who she had not seen in nearly two years. And she also wanted to speak with Uncle David.

Trelawney, to put it simply, wanted to return to her sister's home. She had been living with them up the street now for about ten months and it appeared that most of the reasons for moving her there originally were gone. The external threats to her safety were removed following the death of the unicorn and the expulsion of Aunt Henrietta from their lives. Phoebe was managing the four children nicely and Trelawney would be no added burden. In fact in many ways, she would be helpful.

Rob also wanted Trelawney to go home. He very much wanted to do some traveling and was tired of sharing his home with an ever-present adolescent. He would much prefer to have his privacy back and felt that it was time for Hal to work out some of his own problems with the kids rather than relying on them to step in all the time. Catherine actually liked the fact that they were needed and the fact that other than the Christening details, she and Phoebe had developed a very warm relationship.

But Rob wanted a little more distance there too. He was afraid that he would never be able to get his wife to leave town for even a brief holiday if she became any more "entangled" in their lives. Despite her misgivings, Catherine knew that for the most part Rob was right and that her desire to keep Trelawney was a bit selfish. She loved both her and Phoebe as the daughters she had always wanted but never had. And little Trelawney's way of calling her "Mama Kate" was most endearing.

Rob pointed out to her that Trelawney would no doubt continue to call her Mama Kate whether she lived with them or not. And Catherine did fill an emotional need in her life that her sister could not, that of surrogate mother. And Trelawney was forever coming up with sewing projects that Phoebe had no time to help her with.

All things considered, Catherine would not lose as much as she thought she would by returning the girl to her sister. But Catherine, in her own way, was also stubborn. Even though she knew that she would have to let go eventually, she was going to hold on for as long as she could. However, even she had to recognize that the decision where Trelawney resided was in the hands of her Uncle David. And Rob had expressly forbidden her from approaching him on her own behalf.

On the eve of the Figalilly family's arrival, the girl was very quiet. Pastor Jason had asked that she be brought in the next day for a talk. Catherine hoped that he would be able to lift her spirits before the family arrived. Ostensibly, she had remained in California because that was where she would be happy, but she didn't seem very content. However, with all the family coming in, no doubt she was on tenterhooks just as Phoebe was. With any luck, in a few days she would be happy again.

To be continued . . .