Author Topic: Christening gift quandary  (Read 4820 times)

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cattlekid

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Christening gift quandary
« on: March 22, 2013, 09:38:50 AM »
DH and I have been asked to be godparents for the first time.  Since we have never done this before, we are navigating all the “must do’s” and “should do’s” with the help of other family members who have been down this road before.

The one place we are stuck on is one of the gifts.  In DH’s culture, we are responsible for the christening outfit, christening candle and then a gold cross for the baby.  This is a relatively significant piece of jewelry for an infant, most crosses go for about $250-$400 plus we will have to purchase a chain to go with it. 

I have no issue purchasing one cross and chain.  However, the parents have an older daughter who is the stepsister of the baby that is being christened.  When we first met the baby, we brought a gift for the baby and for her sister, no problem.  The problem comes in now, where DH wants to purchase a cross and chain for the stepsister as well as the baby being christened.  I have a few issues with this.  First, it’s a lot of money to drop at one time.  Secondly, I feel it takes the emphasis off of the baby being christened and off our relationship as godparents.  If the stepsister is eventually christened in the church and we are asked to be the godparents, I would be happy to purchase the same gifts for her as we did for the baby that we ARE the godparents for. 

Before I make this a federal case with DH, I wanted to get the opinions of the eHellions.  Am I overreacting? Should I just have us eat beans and rice for a few weeks to pay for the second cross and chain?  If not, do we need to purchase a smaller gift for the stepsister for the christening or have we already met that obligation with the “meet the baby” gift? 

Shoo

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2013, 09:41:51 AM »
I don't think you're overreacting.  How does your husband know the stepsister doesn't have her own set of godparents and her own gold cross?  To just buy her one seems presumptuous to me.  Plus, that's a lot of money, and it's not her christening, it's the baby's.  So I agree with you.

lady_disdain

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2013, 09:43:25 AM »
I am with you - the cross is a special gift, related to the sacrament. I would also not wish to set up a precedent that every time one girl gets a gift, the other has to as well. Sometimes, we celebrate one, at others, the other (as long as both girls get their turn).


Bethalize

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2013, 09:52:17 AM »
Secondly, I feel it takes the emphasis off of the baby being christened and off our relationship as godparents.  If the stepsister is eventually christened in the church and we are asked to be the godparents, I would be happy to purchase the same gifts for her as we did for the baby that we ARE the godparents for. 

I agree with this entirely. Baptism is a sacrament. To go around giving baptism gifts when there is no baptism is rather like giving wedding gifts when there is no wedding. I'd be a bit worried if someone gave me a wedding ring that I wasn't marrying. Likewise I wouldn't appreciate a coffin if I wasn't being buried!

Joking aside, why would you want to give a child who is not being baptised a baptism gift? This particular baptism gift in fact? I think you should ask your DH that.

peaches

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2013, 09:56:19 AM »
I don't think you're overreacting. I think your DH is going overboard. (It's easy to do. You commit to doing one good deed, and get a little carried away.)

This is the baby's christening, and that should be the focus.

It's not clear if the older child has a cross, and if not, why. The child may not be an official member of the church. If the child isn't in the church, there may be a reason (parents divorced, no agreement on religion, for example). Or, the current parents may intend for that child to join later on.

In any case, you were asked to be the godparents for one child, not two. I'd concentrate on that.

Enkidu

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2013, 10:05:19 AM »
I agree wholeheartedly with the previous posters.

My sisters and I have different godparents. We all received special gifts from our particular godparents that the others did not receive, and understood it was because of that special relationship.

If your husband is worried about the older child feeling left out (which is very sweet of him), you might consider bringing her along a candy bar or other sweet. Most kids would rather have candy than jewelry.

GrammarNerd

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2013, 10:06:40 AM »
I agree with the PPs.  If your DH feels the need to get the older girl something, then get her a book, or maybe a little craft kit (within reason) that she can work on during the party if she gets bored.  You're offering a token to the older girl so she doesn't feel left out of the gift opening....and that's a nice gesture, but that's all it should be.

And actually, if he wants to get the same things for the older girl, and you're NOT her godparents, that's kind of minimizing what you're doing for the baby, isn't it?  Those are special things for the child who's being christened, and to just give those things willy-nilly to another child takes away the 'special-ness' of the act and the gifts for the christened child.

And I just have to say that wow....expecting the godparents to buy all of those things....that's a lot.  I'm obviously not in that culture.  But I just have to wonder: what if the godparents simply can't afford that much money for a child that's not their own?  Do they decline to be godparents?  I'm honestly not trying to knock anyone's traditions, but it's just so different than what I'm used to and that's honestly one of the first things that occurred to me when I read what's 'required' of you.

Sharnita

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2013, 10:09:17 AM »
If there is a local Christian bookstore near you there might be a good gift that is inexpensive but not on the level of the gold cross.

mmswm

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2013, 10:15:56 AM »
I agree that buying a cross and chain for the older child is going a bit overboard.  I also agree that if he wants to buy the older child a small, token gift, that would be okay, but it shouldn't be something that detracts from the specialness of the baby's gift.

My children all have different godparents.  My middle ds's godmother is the most involved.  She buys him little gifts on the anniversary of his baptism every year. The other two boys' godparents do not do that.  Sometimes "Sue" will also get family gifts, but she does a little bit extra for middle DS.  This is okay.  She's his godmother.  It's her prerogative if she wants to get him extra little things. It's my job to explain to the other two that there's a special relationship between Sue  and middle ds, and that life isn't always fair. 
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

cattlekid

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2013, 10:34:44 AM »
OP here...

Thanks to everyone for validating what I am trying to express to DH.  I know his heart is in the right place, I just need to steer him in a better direction. 

To answer a few questions:

1.    The stepsister is the mom’s biological daughter.  The mom is not of DH’s culture (the dad is) and I do not believe this child was christened at all.  Even if she was christened in another church, our church would require that she be re-christened if she were to want to become a member of our church.  So if she does have godparents, she would have to get new godparents for the second christening, assuming the initial godparents are not of DH’s culture.
2.   For the poster who mentioned the cost of all of the required gifts:  yes, cost can be an issue.  Sometimes, the parents of the godparents will help out with the costs.  But yes, I would say that if you couldn’t swing the required gifts, you would do best to bow out and then let the mom & dad decide how to deal with it.  If you can have a frank conversation, I can see some parents might let the godparents off the hook for some of the gifts.  But they are all part of the christening ceremony so someone will have to come up with them.

Honestly, I hope this doesn’t come off sounding crass or cheap, but I’m not thrilled about this whole godparent business.  It’s already cost me about $700, and we are just in the beginning stages of this.  Again, in DH’s culture, godparents are looked on like benevolent year-round Santa Clauses, handing out cash and gifts at every turn of the mile.  Add to that DH’s overly generous nature and I’m looking at the poorhouse.  We already have two nieces and he likes to go overboard for them as well.  I keep telling him that no child needs $100 of birthday gifts from an aunt/uncle and he doesn’t get it. 

Kaypeep

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 10:39:57 AM »
My family is Roman Catholic and none of us kids (3 of us) received gold crosses at our baptism.  I would not say it's a requirement at all.  I POD the other poster who suggested checking the religious store for a cheaper alternative.   Granted I was baptized in the early 70's and I think there was less consumerism then.  My niece's godparents did not get her a gold cross at her christening, but did buy her one when she made her communion.  You may suggest to your husband to keep things reasonable this time around and not set a precedent that you'll need to compete with as the baby gets older and makes other sacraments and milestones.

MindsEye

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 10:44:22 AM »
Honestly, I hope this doesn’t come off sounding crass or cheap, but I’m not thrilled about this whole godparent business.  It’s already cost me about $700, and we are just in the beginning stages of this.  Again, in DH’s culture, godparents are looked on like benevolent year-round Santa Clauses, handing out cash and gifts at every turn of the mile.  Add to that DH’s overly generous nature and I’m looking at the poorhouse.  We already have two nieces and he likes to go overboard for them as well.  I keep telling him that no child needs $100 of birthday gifts from an aunt/uncle and he doesn’t get it.

I don't think that you are sounding cheap.  I would be very put off by the costs as well and would be having a serious talk with the parents about them.

Honestly, my jaw hit the floor when you mentioned $250-$400 for the baby's gold cross!  Even at the low end, that is almost twice what my most expensive piece of jewelery (wedding band) cost!  Why do the costs have to be so high?  Is a $50 cross less holy?   :o  What would happen if you put your foot down and said that your budget for the candle, cross, and outfit was a total of (say) $400 tops?

This mostly sounds like a DH problem that is being brought into sharp light by this christening.  The two of you might need some counseling in order to be on the same financial page.   :-\

cattlekid

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 10:46:38 AM »
We are a different religion from Roman Catholic.  The religion is also mixed in with the overall culture and that is where a lot of the traditions come from.  The requirement is not a religious requirement as much as a cultural requirement.  If you are asked to be godparents, you have to either follow with the cultural requirements or respecfully bow out.  It stinks but there's no changing it. 

My family is Roman Catholic and none of us kids (3 of us) received gold crosses at our baptism.  I would not say it's a requirement at all.  I POD the other poster who suggested checking the religious store for a cheaper alternative.   Granted I was baptized in the early 70's and I think there was less consumerism then.  My niece's godparents did not get her a gold cross at her christening, but did buy her one when she made her communion.  You may suggest to your husband to keep things reasonable this time around and not set a precedent that you'll need to compete with as the baby gets older and makes other sacraments and milestones.

Sharnita

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 10:50:15 AM »
It doesn't sound thike this is a Roman Catholic christening if they require people to be re-chrisened in their denomination, complete with new godparents.  That doesn't really sound like any denomination I am familiar with.  So while I agree that I have never heard of expectations like these, if it is part of DH's church and culture it might be specific to them. 

OP, it must be challenging to marry into these cultural behaviors and expectations and be expected to embrace them without challenging them.  I don't have any advice on how to handle this in the long run because I would find it a major struggle myself.  I love to get my family gifts just because but they might be things from a Mom2Mom sale or something small. 

cattlekid

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Re: Christening gift quandary
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 10:51:07 AM »
The crosses cannot be purchased in a standard jewelry store.  If we don't want to travel to another state that has a jewelry store that carries these crosses, we have to purchase them online. 

DH is normally pretty sane about his spending.  It's just when it comes to gifts, he needs a little reigning in sometimes. 

Honestly, my jaw hit the floor when you mentioned $250-$400 for the baby's gold cross!  Even at the low end, that is almost twice what my most expensive piece of jewelery (wedding band) cost!  Why do the costs have to be so high?  Is a $50 cross less holy?   :o  What would happen if you put your foot down and said that your budget for the candle, cross, and outfit was a total of (say) $400 tops?

This mostly sounds like a DH problem that is being brought into sharp light by this christening.  The two of you might need some counseling in order to be on the same financial page.   :-\