Jenny and I agreed that we wanted to look at baby keepsake books in person, rather than ordering one from Amazon or some other site, like I had previously mentioned. A short internet investigation showed that the nearby chain bookstores both stocked several different titles, so we headed over there, to Borders first, then to Barnes and Noble. At Borders, we found a book that I had also seen online: Humble Bumbles’ Baby Journal. We liked it the most of the available selection, so we bought it, then headed over to the other store. We didn’t see anything we liked better there, but I did get Jenny some skim hot chocolate with a couple of pumps of marshmallow juice.
Earlier on, I thought that I wanted a book that was specific to our religion. However, on inspection of several books, I realized that many of them made an allowance for this. Most religions observe some kind of ceremony to welcome the baby into the world and into the community. Humble Bumble’s Baby Journal has a page with plenty of space for recollections and pictures of the event, but does a good job of not labeling it with one name.
In our church, newborns are welcomed via a naming and blessing ceremony which typically happens on the first Sunday of the month. Our congregation is undergoing a baby boom–there are at least four women in the late stages of pregnancy, and three babies were named and blessed last Sunday. One thing that differentiates this for us is that the father usually performs the ordinance*, joined by close friends. They hold the child in their hands, and pronounce the words of naming and blessing. Of course, the naming part of the ordinance is just ceremonial; I’m sure that almost all parents fill the name out on the birth certificate at the hospital, and everyone calls the baby by name before the blessing, and so forth. Nobody waits until afterwards to start calling the baby by name. But after the announcement of the name, the father pronounces words of blessing as directed by the spirit. As three different fathers blessed their children this past Sunday, I pondered my upcoming turn in their spot. I know we’re not supposed to plan the blessing in advance, but the lengths and ranges of baby blessings vary wildly, and I think that some of the variation represents a conscious choice, and some represents differences in personalities of the person giving the blessing (or, if you prefer, this is a recognition that the spirit usually directs along paths familiar to us). So I think that I should prepare myself in some general way for the event. At a minimum, I need to practice holding Sunflower so I don’t drop her.
On this topic, I have one final note. The baby wears a white dress for her blessing, representing her innocence and purity. At Christmas, Jenny’s mother asked if we had any plans with regard to obtaining the dress, and when Jenny said no, her mom said that she would be very excited to make that a gift from her to the baby. We appreciate the kind gesture, and look forward to seeing what she picks for Sunflower!
*This practice represents a facet of our larger belief in a lay ministry. That is: a priesthood holder must perform the ordinance, but almost every worthy man in the congregation holds the priesthood. Therefore, the father has the right to bless his baby, instead of asking a designated priest to do so.