Monday, 26 January 2009

On godfathers

Last Christmas season, we received the visit of my godfather, a man I haven't seen in years. It was nice to see him again, but that's not what I want to blog about. I also saw my godson during that time period, so those two events made me think about the function of godfather. We are a very secular family, my friend who asked to become the godfather of his son is just as secular as I am, maybe also just as much of an unbeliever as I am, yet baptism seem to matter a lot to us, at least in a cultural way. Spiritually, it is now meaningless, yet I absolutely love when my godson calls me "parrain". This is the name he usually addresses me with. I address my godfather by his Christian name of course, and we barely mention that he is my godfather. For me, he is just another uncle, of the loud and heavy drinking kind, always entertaining during family reunion. That said, we did talked about religion when we met. Well, he teased my wife for being a Protestant (well, sort of, as she is unbaptised) and he told us the anecdote of his First Communion, where he had to suffer the humiliation of being the only boy dressed as an altar boy. He was traumatised enough to remember it vividly after all those years. I think he lost his faith that day. It is difficult to imagine him as a child going to church. My First Communion was much nicer, as everybody was dressed as altar boys and I was still a good little Catholic who was in awe watching and taking part in those rituals. Funny that my godfather was, in theory, in charge of my religious education. Last time he did anything regarding it, it was on my Confirmation, which he had to attend.

I wonder if my godson will one day see me as a loud, heavy drinking man, joking about his lost faith. Right now, I don't drink much in front of him and never swear. I let him tell me about "little Jesus" and all the things he learned at kindergarten. I try for a little bit to forget that I don't believe in all that and that I dropped on my suit the holy water the vicar gave me at his baptism. My godson doesn't care about holy water anyway, I think he prefers the gifts he receives from me. This might be the only function of a godfather in Québec society nowadays: to spoil the godson as much as he can and show that he cares about the little one. This I am doing quite well, in spite of the distance.

No comments: