Helena Rodriguez: Baptisms make family relationships complicated

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By Helena Rodriguez

Guest Columnist

My granddaughter, Genavecia Ashley, will be baptized on Sunday. Gena is a year-and-a-half old. By my personal preferences, that is not soon enough, but never too late.

Not only is baptism a rite of passage, it is a sacrament, and an extension of family. Have you ever wondered why all Hispanics seem to be related? It is because our “ninos” and “ninas” are considered family, too.

This is short for padrinos and madrinas, or, in English, godparents.

But we don’t stop right there. When someone baptizes your child, they become your compadres. I don’t know how many compadres and comadres (the feminine) my parents, Julio and Katie, have in Portales. I lost count.

But soon, my good friends, Anita and Bobby, of Hobbs, will become my daughter and son-in-law, Nino’s compadres.

Want to know something confusing though? My little Gena will soon have her nino and nina, but when it comes to the nino, that will be confusing because her dad’s name is Nino, short for Bernardino. And so when we say, “Mijo, there’s your nino!” She may have to stop and think a minute. Are we talking about her nino or about her dad?

When my nina, Mary Lou Lucero, died a few years ago, I was shocked to find when I read her obituary that I was only one of dozens of godchildren, or “hijados” that she and her surviving husband, Jake, have. I have a friend in Hobbs, Josie, and she and her husband have more than 40 godchildren.

“Wow! How do you buy Christmas presents for all of them?” I asked. My nino and nina always got me a nice Christmas gift up until I was a teenager. Josie said that she buys them all inexpensive religious gifts, and once, she held a religious retreat for them.

As for my Gena, I am happy, not just because she will have a nino and nina, but because she will be baptized.

Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com

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