It’s a family thing


Melissa Stagnaro

You can pick your friends, but not your family. For some that may be a lament, but not for me. I’ve never felt anything short of blessed to call myself a part of the sprawling Farrell clan. I’m one of 35 or so first cousins to fall under that umbrella on this, my mother’s side of the family. We’re all the result of the procreating efforts of my mom and her dozen brothers and sisters.

I can’t even begin to estimate the number of second cousins I have, but let’s just say that those in my generation have been doing their part to populate the world. That isn’t a bad thing, I assure you. Because basically wherever there are Farrell’s, there is a good time. It doesn’t really matter what the occasion.

This weekend, that occasion happened to be the Christening of Shane Robert, the newest addition to my cousin Julie and her husband Rob’s little brood. The sacrament of baptism is an important rite in the Catholic church, and, good Irish Catholics that we are, the Farrell’s were there in force. My parents and I were among those who trekked to Warwick in Orange County for the event.

The promise of seeing everyone made it well worth the trials and tribulations of traveling to and from the aforementioned event with my parents. Don’t get my wrong, I absolutely love my mom and dad. But traveling by car with them can be nothing short of torture. (Let’s face it, if my dad can’t fly somewhere, he doesn’t want to go.)

But, as I said, enduring those – the seemingly longest three hours of my life – was well worth it to see the aunts, uncles and numerous cousins which I cherish so much.

True to form, we arrived at the church without a second to spare. Okay, so we were actually close to a half an hour late, but we didn’t miss Shane’s big moment.

Clad in the what was no doubt the world’s cutest little Christening outfit, the man of the hour seemed a little disconcerted by his initiation into the Roman Catholic tradition. Now, I guess it could have been all the unfamiliar faces, but my guess was that the little guy’s complaints were due to the amount of water being sloshed around in the baptismal font – which sounded a little excessive to my ears.

I think Shane agreed with me. And, true to his Farrell heritage, he was not shy about expressing his consternation. As he demonstrated his full vocal range, my mother assured me that this was a sign of good luck. (The portent of a promising opera career, perhaps?)

Once Shane’s rite of passage – and the impromptu photo shoot which ensued – was complete, the Farrell’s got down to what they do best: Having a good time. We were joined by another, larger contingent of the clan at the reception which followed at the Warwick Valley Country Club where Julie’s parents, my Uncle Mickey and Aunt Julie, spend a lot of quality time. (I certainly don’t blame them, the course is nothing short of spectacular.)

For the uninitiated, it might have seemed a little overwhelming, but it was par for the course for a Farrell function. It’s an art, really. Balancing all of that good food and free-flowing drink while catching up with each and every relative. Stories and laughs always abound as we reminisce, and there is plenty of that good-natured ribbing that goes along with being a close knit family – no matter how much time or distance separates you.

When it was time to go, I had a hard time tearing myself away. (And not just because I was reluctant to get back in the car with my dear, dear parents.) Thankfully, there was the promise of a few summer get-togethers to ease the pain of leaving.

And as we merged back onto Route 17, homeward bound, I knew that Shane wasn’t the only one blessed on that special day. We are all blessed to be a part of such a wonderful family.

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