Despite (or thanks to) having such a large family I’m not particularly up-to-date on how to describe various relatives, so let me try to be as specific as I can.

This weekend, three of my father’s sons (including me) and one of their girlfriends spent far too long in a car that was far too small to travel down to Champagne in France for the baptism of my father’s sister’s granddaughter. Nothing makes a long road-tirip fly by like beautiful scenery and repeatedly singing that one verse we know of Hotel California, among other standbys.

Just after dawn we arrived at my aunt Elise’s place, and while I recused myself to the comfort of one of the scattered mattresses in her TARDIS of an apartment they apparently chatted their way through what remained of the night, until it was time to go to lunch.

I’ve mentioned that my family is staggeringly expansive on both sides, and it was a delight to reconnect with the scattering of aunts, uncles, cousins and whatever one’s supposed to call your cousin’s kids.

The baptism took place in her mother’s church, where feisty little Lilou put up a brave and giggly fight, but the priest knew his business and gave her curly head a good soak.

I’m not a man of any given faith, but I love places of worship where simply stepping inside and breathing the air gives a sense of the love, compassion and inspiration people share there. I’m rather ashamed of how poor my French is these days, so I followed little of the ceremony and relied on my aunt’s discrete advice on what to say during the prayer – and from the congregation’s response, the priest had quite a wit.

And then more food. Lilou’s maternal grandfather put out a magnificent spread and, true to the region’s name, the bubbles flowed liberally – produced, it turned out, at the cave-de-champagne of one of the guests, who gifted my brother and myself with a bottle each (and no, there isn’t any left).

And then the dancing. Good Lord, the dancing.

Here collected is a small sampling of the day’s pictures. I’d love to include more (we’re a good-looking family) but honestly, if I posted them, you wouldn’t believe them.

A biêntot, la France!

– Nico