Have you ever attended an event that was literally perfect from the time it began to the time it ended? Amidst the busyness of our show preparations, this past weekend was a welcomed and much needed time of rest with our family. The purpose of our gathering was centered around the newest of my four nieces for her baptism. Everything about the day seemed to be the fulfilment of a heritage passed down from generation to generation.
This momentous occasion was held at the family home of my husband... a house that is well over 350 years old with more personality and character than one can fathom. Currently my husband's grandmother lives in the lower half of the house and his parents in the upper part, as has been done for generations before them. Surrounding us were large antique furniture pieces that lined the open black and white tiled entryway, leading up the old stairs that creek each time one treads on them. At the beginning of the service, there was such an amazing stillness and peace that filled the room as the first note was played of an old German hymn.
The baptism dress, a family heirloom, has been worn by my husband's grandfather, his five daughter's, her three children, and two from this generation. Each child that has been baptised in the sweet, white linen dress has had their name and birth date embroidered by the child's grandmother.
I think no one can convince me now that weather cannot be custom ordered. A warm, sunshining day moved our celebration plans and champagne toast into the garden... we could not have asked for more beautiful weather despite the fact that we are in Northern Germany.
For lunch, the seasonal and traditional white asparagus, potatoes, salmon, smoked prosciutto, and hollandaise sauce adorned the table. Everywhere one looks in the dining room are reminders of those who celebrated and lived the same things before. Vintage china lined the table which were just as fantastic as the fresh flowers brought in for the festivities.
... and what would a family gathering in Germany be without an afternoon walk? Groups formed and disassembled and reformed all along the way like a bees floating from one flower to the next. Our normal round included a stroll through the woods with patches of warmth from the sun and cool from the large shading trees above. The well-worn path lead us to the cemetery of the family ancestors and hellos, goodbyes, and memories were are shared. The cousins ran through the wooded green laughing, playing, and making up games as they went.
So how does one conclude such a family outing?... why, of course, with "coffee and cake" time in the garden. The branches of a decades old walnut tree provided just enough shade, while allowing warm sparkles of the sun to filter in. I made sure to sit at the table adorned with my favorite tea/coffee china... a simple pattern with a delicate fern leaf and octagon shaped saucer to match.
What could be more fitting for such a sweet little girl than a cake dressed in white and embellished with the softest pastel accents... divine.
In the midst of all this, I realize... it somehow seems that I knew deep inside, long before I ever set foot in Germany, that this is what my heart had secretly longed for... family, rich traditions, laughter, gardens, and especially old things still remembered and cherished.