The Family Circle

December 2, 2007 | 13 comments

On the sweetness of Mormon life–
We came a few minutes late to our small ward and could hardly find a spot to squeeze in. The chapel was full of family from the funeral on Wednesday and for today’s two baby blessings.

Every man jack, it seemed like, got up for the second blessing. I started to think hard thoughts about ostentation and folks who couldn’t say no. But when the press at the stairs sorted out, I quelled those thoughts. Besides the father, the circle was made up of eleven brothers or brothers-in-law, two grandfathers, and one faithful hometeacher.

Bishop usually likes to get in on every blessing. This time he just stood to the side, grinning.


13 Responses to The Family Circle

  1. Jonathan Green on December 3, 2007 at 5:58 am

    That was our ward too, yesterday. The family that is related to half the stake blessed two babies, and the primary doubled in size with all the cousins in attendance.

  2. lamonte on December 3, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for a pleasant image to start my Monday morning. A few years back one of my four sons returned home from his mission. It was especially satisfying because that son had made a significant turn around in his life and we all saw the hand of God in his life. At the suggestion of my RM son, all five of us – me, him and his three brothers – asked the bishop if we could sing a song in Sacrament meeting after he gave his missionary report. I should mention that this is something we NEVER do. We sang “There is a Green Hill Far Away.” It was a wonderful feeling to perform with the four of them but it was even more heart warming to accept comments from the ward members who expressed how their hearts had been touched as well.. My goodness, the gospel is great.

  3. Ray on December 3, 2007 at 8:48 am

    “This time he just stood to the side, grinning.”

    Perhaps one of my favorite images from a post not written by Wilfried or Margaret. Thanks, Adam, for such a simple, moving post.

  4. JM on December 3, 2007 at 11:12 am

    “This time he just stood to the side, grinning.”

    That’s sad…

    As the presiding authority, he has a duty to take part in the ordinance.

  5. Ray on December 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

    JM, no he doesn’t. He has a duty to approve any who take part.

  6. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    A helpful reader just posted a quote from the handbook tending to side with Mr. Ray. Another reader has retorted with quotations from Joseph F. Smith and other sources but frankly I think the whole enterprise of trying to gin up controversy out of this post is unseemly, though I’m sure no harm was meant. I’ve removed the comments and will remove any further comments that try to continue the quarrel.

  7. Jacob M on December 3, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    There are parts of the Mormon life that are so sweet. Thanks for pointing this one out.

    lamonte, thanks for your story as well. And that is one of my all-time favorite songs.

  8. Melinda on December 3, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    When our baby was blessed, we had a 12 in the circle with just brothers, brothers-in-law, grandfathers and one great-grandfather. That’s cute about the bishop standing to the side in the story.

    However, it is not cute that the new mom is expected to host all those priesthood holders with their wives and children at an open house after sacrament meeting. I would have liked my son’s blessing circle a lot more if it were not for that ironclad rule that there must be a family party after the blessing. Even if you do potluck, you’ve still got 40+ people at your house. Aaack! Go home!

  9. East Coast on December 3, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the laugh Melinda. Hosting both my parents and in-laws in our tiny San Diego apartment for a baby blessing just about did me in. (Yes, they all stayed several days; it was the height of the tourist season and we couldn’t find hotel rooms.)

    A custom I always thought peculiar was the new mother having to stand up and speak in testimony meeting. Is that still observed in Mormon country? I haven’t noticed whether they do that or not in our small ward here on the East Coast since there aren’t many children being blessed. When our children were blessed in church I managed to be in the mother’s lounge for most of the meeting. Not that I mind giving my testimony, but I don’t see what it has to do with just having had a baby. Maybe it is a throwback to the old Lutheran custom (any other graduates of Gerald Haslam’s Scandinavian History class to recall the details better than me?) of welcoming mothers back into fellowship in the church a certain time after the baby was born. And can you trace the Lutheran custom back to old Jewish practices? (“I was unclean, but here I am back in full fellowship in the church.”)

    As a side-note, one of our children was blessed in the hospital when he was a day old. He was having heart surgery and according to the bishop who checked The Handbook, a blessing done in these circumstances does not need prior approval.

  10. John Taber on December 3, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    “I would have liked my son’s blessing circle a lot more if it were not for that ironclad rule that there must be a family party after the blessing. Even if you do potluck, you’ve still got 40+ people at your house.”

    The only such gathering I’ve been to was when my nephew was blessed. Since then I’ve stood in for two baby blessings in my ward, and such an invitation wasn’t expected, let alone extended.

  11. Y Stephenson on December 3, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    No one in these parts expects to invited to an openhouse after a blessing. Most of then hurry off to attend their own wards and don’t have time anyway. I have never seen a new mother speak in testimony meeting on such a day.

    Taken pictures before everyone goes his own way does seem to semi obligatory.

  12. Melinda on December 3, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    #10 – Yes, that’s the norm. Invitations for family only (without ward members), which means 40+ people in these parts. I know the big party isn’t the norm everywhere. Likely it’s just a Wasatch Front thing.

    I spoke in testimony meeting, but it wasn’t expected. I just wanted to because that day was so neat. I’ve never paid attention to whether the new mom speaks or not, though I suppose it would be frequent, given the emotions present for the occasion.

  13. Y Stephenson on December 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Sorry about the bad typing and misspelled words. Had to hurry.


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