One of my early childhood memories took place on November 14, 1960. I was 6-1/2 years old. I remember rocking in my child-sized wooden rocker and "reading" a book called "Love Is a Special Way of Feeling," by Joan Walsh Anglund. It was a small, hardcover book with a pink cover. The book was a gift from my godmother to celebrate the sixth anniversary of my Holy Baptism.
I was blessed with a wonderful, caring godmother, who always gave me a card and a small gift on November 14. Since my two younger sisters and I shared the same birthday (Beth and I were born on the same day, two years apart, and Caroline was due on our birthday, but arrived a week earlier), November 14 was special because it was my day.
Eventually, I was blessed with two goddaughters--one is now 24 and the other is 13. I have passed on my godmother's tradition and have always remembered their baptism anniversaries (January 9 and February 19) each year with a card and a small gift--just to remind them of this most special of days. The reason I did this was so they would always know their baptism date as well as they know their birthday. I have succeeded.
Through Holy Baptism we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever. Wow! That's huge! Shouldn't that be a special day in our lives?
I propose that each of us find out our baptism date and recognize it. Here are some ideas of how to do that:
• If you don't know the date of your Holy Baptism, ask someone who will. If your godparents or no one in your family remembers, write or email the church where you were baptized.
• On your baptism anniversary, make a donation to your church in recognition of the special blessings you have received because you are baptized and blessed to be part of a caring church community.
• If you are a godparent, give a small gift and a card to your godchild on his or her baptism anniversary. It may be shameless, but children remember when they receive gifts! It doesn't have to be expensive--just a little something to show you care about this young Christian for whom you have made special promises.
• If you are a parent, recognize your children's baptism anniversary each year. Bake a cake and tell them what it means to be a baptized Christian. Talk about the importance of church in your family's life.
At St. Anne's, we give each baptismal candidate a candle and certificate, as well as a cross-stitched door hanger personalized with the child's name, baptismal date and the name of the church. Adults who are baptized receive a beautiful handcrafted wooden cross to hang above the front door of their home. After the baptismal service is concluded, our rector "asperges" the congregation with the holy water from the baptismal font, dipping a flowering branch into the silver bowl and shaking droplets of water at parishioners, pew by pew, saying "Remember your baptism."
Remember YOUR baptism.
Cathryn Conroy is a member of St. Anne's, Damascus.
What is your baptism anniversary date? What ideas do you have for recognizing this date in your life or in the lives of your children and godchildren? We invite you to share your comments and thoughts with the diocesan community on Facebook.