Our sweet Joseph just celebrated his first baptism anniversary. One trip around the sun, one whole year a Christian.
But I always find that these days sneak under the radar, despite circling the dates on the calendar and trying to plan a something-special to celebrate their big days.
So here’s my simple solution: four easy ways to celebrate a baptism anniversary with children. Grab one or grab ’em all.
(In descending order of time/preparation/oops-I-completely-forgot-ness. Because baptism’s got no room for shame.)
1. Eat a special meal or delicious dessert.
FEAST. The Christian answer to every celebration. Make the child the center of the day. Make a fuss. Let him pick the dinner he wants (even if everyone’s stuck eating chicken fingers) or surprise him with cake and ice cream for dessert.
Pull out the photo album after dinner, and re-tell the story of his baptism: why you chose the godparents, what friends and relatives came to celebrate with you, what happened when the sleeping baby encountered that surprising splash of water and everyone smiled.
(Maybe even the story of how he himself “christened” the gathering space of the church when his parents tried to redress him after baptism by immersion. Not that this happened to anyone I know.)
If there were ever a reason to pull out the fancy dishes and nice candles and a real tablecloth, the anniversary of being claimed as God’s own and cleansed from original sin and welcomed into the worldwide church has got to be a pretty decent one.
Worth washing china by hand after bedtime.
2. Pray a blessing for a baptism anniversary.
I discovered this prayer on Sam’s 1st baptism anniversary, and each year we (try to remember to) pray it with each of our kids on their special day. It’s lovely to watch how the whole moment changes when you focus on one child during prayer and lay your hands on them to bless them.
Remember this, Name.
You have been washed
In the saving waters of baptism
And anointed with holy oil.
Place on your head and in your heart
The sign of the cross of salvation.
Trace the sign of the cross on the child’s head and heart.
You created all the people of the world,
And you know each of us by name.
We thank you for N.,
Who celebrates the anniversary of her baptism.
Bless her with your love and friendship
That she may grow in wisdom, knowledge, and grace.
May she love her family always
And be ever faithful to her friends.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Place your hands on the child’s head or shoulders.
May God, in whose presence our ancestors walked, bless you.
May God, who has been your shepherd from birth until now, keep you. Amen.
May God, who saves you from all harm, give you peace. Amen.
3. Light a baptismal candle.
If you received a candle at your child’s baptism, dig it out from the back of the drawer. Or simply set a white candle at the dinner table to remember Christ’s light. Talk about the symbols of the sacrament – the candle, the water, the oil, the white garment – to bring their baptism day to life before their eyes.
Lighting a candle sets a sacred mood and reminds the whole family that home can be as holy as church.
(And even mac and cheese looks fancy by candlelight.)
4. Trace a tiny cross on your child’s forehead.
If all else fails (which it hasn’t because: baptism!) – or if the end of the day arrives and you suddenly remember that you forgot – fear not.
The simplest blessings can be the best.
Every night I trace a cross on each child’s forehead. I tell him that he is blessed by Jesus, that God loves him and knows him and calls him by name. (I wrote more about our ritual of tracing tiny crosses here.)
Baptism reminds us that we are blessed and beloved simply because we are created by God and called by name. So even if you celebrate a baptism anniversary simply by blessing your child before bed, it is more than enough.
It is…(wait for it)…an everyday sacrament.