Except when it’s your kid. Or your godchild. Or your niece or grandchild or special friend’s kid or…
So maybe I should just say…
Except when it’s not.
Do you find yourself looking for the perfect gift?
Maybe it’s for your little sister’s first baby’s baptism or your best friend’s oldest kid’s Confirmation or that person from work who’s coming into the Church this Easter.
After a while, gifts for that new baby or newly baptized person get challenging. Getting an infant a Catechism is a bit overkill, but some of the other gifts are death by cuteness (and how many “it’s your baptism!” frames do you need?).
When I heard about Gina Switzer’s custom artisanal candles, I was intrigued. I’m a fan of making a big deal out of baptisms: you only get one time to be forgiven of original sin, so let’s par-tay, don’tcha think?
It’s also, in my mind, the ultimate way of celebrating life. We’ve always treated our kids’ baptisms as a chance for the family to get together and celebrate and eat. (Because isn’t that what families do when they get together?)
So why would you give the gift of a candle?
Baptism happens once, and it’s something you want to remember. But if you’re an infant, you’re relying on others. And if you’re an adult…well. It’s a big deal but it’s not the same kind of big deal.
I struggle, sometimes, with coming up with non-cheesy gifts for sacramental observances like baptism. I mean, frames are nice. And so are statues and holy cards and books and such.
But this, this is a gift that really stands out.
If you’re organized, you can order the candle and have it used at the baptism. Whether you’re able to do this or not, you can always use this candle and light it from the Paschal Candle in your church. Have your priest bless it if you’re buying it belatedly, and then make it a point to tell your child what it is for and from. In fact, you could make that a yearly celebration of sorts!
The candle Gina so kindly sent me, to show me the kind of product she makes, was the “Lamb of God” style.
It’s made, as all of her candles are, of 49% beeswax (and it smells wonderful!) with real metal overlay. Gina crafts each candle herself, and the information she sent me says that “working on religious candle designs melds her love of the Catholic faith, evangelization and art.”
She’s no slouch as an artist, either. Switzer studied fine art and then, after raising her kids, went back to school for a degree in theology. “Theology should inform art, not art inform theology,” she was advised, and so she continues to pursue opportunities to make sure she’s well-versed in both.
A gift like this is a keepsake, but it’s also something more.
As Gina and I have corresponded about these candles, she shared this excerpt from Pope Francis’s Angelus message from the Solemnity of the Baptism of Jesus on January 10, 2016:
Today, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, let us ponder the day of our Baptism. All of us were baptized, let us give thanks for this gift. I ask you a question: which of you knows the date of your Baptism? Surely not everyone. Therefore, I encourage you to find out the date, by asking, for example, your parents, your grandparents, your godparents, or going to the parish. It is very important to know it, because it is a date to be celebrated: it is the date of our rebirth as Children of God. For this reason, homework for this week: go and find out the date of your Baptism. Celebrating that day means and reaffirms our adherence to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and of a new humanity, in which all are brothers and sisters.
“This is exactly what our candles are about,” she wrote me, and I could hear the excitement in her words.
Baptism IS exciting!
For one thing, there’s fire. For another thing, there’s oil. For another thing, there’s water. And for another thing, there’s that whole “you are forgiven” thing…which is pretty huge. 🙂
Giving a gift that has an impact is a bit of an art, which makes these candles even more of a win in my book. There are a number of designs, and I have to be honest…I have a soft spot for this Blessed Mother design:
Each baptismal candle is personalized as so:
You pick the style of the art and then your name, baptismal date, church, and city/state are added to the bottom.
A hefty candle so you don’t forget too soon…
These aren’t small, by the way. I’m not so good at visualizing sizes, so reading that they’re 1.5 inches in diameter by 9 inches tall didn’t say a whole lot to me.
But when the tube came in the mail, I was confused. I thought maybe someone had sent me a bazooka or something for the Barbie Dream House.
This should give you a sense of the size:
And did I mention that they come with a little glass holder-upper thing? There’s a technical name for it, I’m sure, but it is Very Handy and holds the candle just perfectly.
These candles will burn for approximately 4.6 hours per inch, so it’s pretty realistic to think that you could light it every year for a baptismal celebration and have it last quite a while. (Ahem. No, I’m NOT doing the math.)
It’s a gift that you’ll love giving and they’ll love receiving.
Maybe the only thing that would make this better would be if you made it yourself. Except then you’d have to be an artist of some sort…
Be sure to check out Gina Switzer’s website for a closer look at the candles she’s crafting. She also does Paschal candles for parishes and custom paintings and much more. (I don’t have proof, but I’ll bet she wears a cape, too!)
Disclaimer: I received a free candle. However, this is my honest and uncompensated review of the product I received. It’s safe to say I’m adding this to my “Awesome Gifts to Give” list. 🙂