Ready for Baptism

Tomorrow my oldest grandchild will be baptized. 8 has always seemed to me too young to take on such responsibility, but tonight I think she might be ready.
This is why: As she and her sisters squeezed behind my 9 foot Christmas tree this afternoon to get the candy canes on the branches, she had a major role in knocking over the tree. One of our dogs once brought down a Christmas tree as he lifted his leg on it in the middle of the night, but this was the first time a child had toppled one. The dog jumped; the adults yelled. Sentimental ornaments of 40 years shattered in seconds. Tinsel tangled with branches and lights. Water flooded the floor. Having made sure the stunned children were not hurt, we set to work. I ran to get the ornament storage boxes in the attic so we could rescue the survivors and my granddaughter ran after me. “Grandma, I am so sorry.” Then, with no prodding, she joined the adults cleaning up the mess. Her mother told her to stop and go wash her hands (lead tinsel’s not recommended for fingers, especially small ones) and she refused repeatedly. “I’m going to help.” Defying her mother wasn’t popular, but I was silently very proud of her. In fact, as sad as I was for the loss, I never felt a need to scold her. She made no excuses; she showed no pride; she repented immediately with sincere remorse and a determination to make restitution–and that for a mere careless accident, no harm intended. The next time I carelessly harm another, I hope I do half so well.
So perhaps, even at the tender age of 8, she is ready.


  1. “The next time I carelessly harm another, I hope I do half so well.”

    Yeah, me, too. Thanks for this.

  2. Thanks, Molly. So sorry about your ornaments–that’s a blow; I’m glad you salvaged a hopeful lesson amid the tinsel.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    She sounds like a wondeful granddaughter. I hope you have an opportunity to express to her how proud you are of the way she handled herself in this situation.

    For many years we actually had two Christmas trees: the big, real tree in the family room with colored lights and the “family” ornaments (lots of things made by the kids when they were little, little toys with hangers put on them, etc.), and the more demure, artificial tree in the living room with white lights and the fancy, European ornaments. The kids and I were in charge of the family tree, and my wife was in charge of the living room tree–and none of the rest of us was to touch it.

    Eventually my wife got tired of setting up the living room tree, so the family tree that I do is the only one in the house.

  4. A very nice story/image, but why would it be a sin to destroy Christmas ornaments (my wife and I secretly reward our daughters when they accidentally break the ornaments we’ve accumulated as gifts over the years). Congrats on her baptism.

  5. Mark Brown says:

    One of our dogs once brought down a Christmas tree as he lifted his leg on it

    I pause to admire that phrase, to allow the image to settle fully in my mind, and to acknowledge that at least half of the dogs I have ever known are fully capable of doing the same thing, bless them.

    Your granddaughter sounds like a wonderful person, Molly. Congratulations.

  6. I know many adults who aren’t as valiant at taking responsibility for their own actions.
    Our world needs more 8 year olds like her.
    Thanks for sharing that.

  7. lead tinsel???

  8. I love this story. I can sympathize with her sense that something she did was wrong and being desperate to make it right.

  9. That’s clearly a well-raised, pleasantly dispositioned girl. Does that give her the knowledge and experience to make a supposedly lifelong alignment with a faith community? Eight is too young, I agree.

  10. Levi Peterson says:

    My grandson Hans was baptized a couple of weeks ago. As he was helped from the font, he said, “Man, I’m wet.” Somehow that succinct summary of the ceremony satisfied me. It seemed to put it into a practical perspective. Given Hans’ tendency to fight with his older brother, I’d vote for postponing any expectation of a moral reform on his part till he is eighteen or twenty. In retrospect, I can see no improvement in my behavior following my baptism 67 years ago. If anything, I waxed more ingenious in evil doing. Maybe the Church ought to put off baptizing males till they are of Melchizedek Priesthood age.

  11. mdg, yes, real lead tinsel hoarded as a reminder of the beautiful trees of my parents and grandparents. Kindly don’t send OSHA.

    ujlapana and Levi, glad to see you pick up on the issue of baptism age. Catherine is probably as ready as any 8 year old and I see potential for her baptism and confirmation being to her good, but she has a long way to go in choosing a faith community or personal moral code. The morning of her baptism she called to tell me her sister had already “ruined her day” by being mean to her. Like man, she is a work in progress.

  12. I was in my thirties when I got baptized and I am not sure I was as ready then as your granddaughter is now. Fortunately the Atonement is there for those of us who mess up once in a while.

    It must feel wonderful to have yet another generation of your family choose the right.

  13. It’s true, I think, that 8 is too young, but then again, when would anyone ever be ready? When are we ready to be endowed, to get married? Even to take the Sacrament? It seems to me that the nature of covenants is partly that we promise more than we reasonably can deliver, and God promises to deliver more than we can reasonably expect or hope. It’s a wholly irrational undertaking, and far beyond our moral capability, so what difference does it make, really, if we have an eight-year-old’s inadequate competence, or a 50-year-old’s?

  14. I rather like following the prophet and baptizing my kids at 8 years old. I think two of my kids were mature enough years before then. My last is getting baptized this year. He is maturing fast. I think “maturity” is not a good thing to focus on.

    Getting the Gift of the Holy Ghost is VERY important. It may take years to actually “receive” and recognize it, but it probably doesn’t. I know the Gift of the Holy Ghost has had a major impact on my life. I am very grateful for that dear gift and am grateful to have been able to share it with my kids as well.

  15. Two words: guy wires.

    We’ve guyed our Christmas tree every year since ’02, when it toppled over creating a mess like you describe above.