Whether it’s the frilly, lacy socks, the white handbag that’ll be dirty within five minutes, the short/ballet length/long dress and matching gloves that’ll be worn to Mass for the next six weeks or the incessant, compulsive house cleaning that’ll have poor mammy nearing breaking point for weeks prior to the lead-up to the big day, we’d ask readers to allow us to empathise, because, as the parents of a First Holy Communicant ourselves, we here at the Roscommon People’s HQ know how you feel.
The First Holy Communion Day is usually the peak of most Irish kids’ early childhoods, with every ounce of attention being lavished on them for an entire day, especially when the host/Communion bread accidentally gets caught in the roof of their mouths and their frantic families all try to remove it together…at the same time, it’s no surprise that each and every one of us has an abiding Communion memory that sticks out most in our minds, making us cringe.
Here are some examples that spring to mind for me…
Your dress was, according to mammy, a serious haute couture item and was “being created specially. It’s a one-off, don’t ya know”…a motherly sentiment that confirmed what every busybody on the road had been hissing…i.e. that your family thought they were too good and had ‘notions’. This was further confirmed when you, the innocent little First Communicant with your freckled face and natural ringlets that’d make a River Dancer weep with envy, were chosen to do the readings; confirming what you’d known since junior infants, that you were possibly smarter than the entire school put together…teachers and all.
As mammy and daddy argued about whether or not to go for a big family meal or hire a bouncy castle, whether to get the caterers in, (i.e. order a pizza and a family bucket of fried chicken and garlic bread…again, ‘notions’) you, ya little star, were upstairs practicing walking slowly towards the altar; straight up to the priest. Then, just at the precise second, and exactly as Nana had coached, giving an Oscar winning performance, you genuflect so reverently, the entire family’s hopes were pinned on you to be the one to take Holy Orders when you leave school. Priceless!
Trying hard not to snigger when your class nemeses forgot to kneel during what the poor teacher had drummed into you was the ‘designated’ kneeling prayer!
Mortification when mammy hisses out of the side of her perfectly Restylane enhanced lips at daddy because, on this most special day, (after she’s been lauding her family’s superiority along with her expensive outfit over your long-suffering neighbours for weeks), it’s clear that, during what everyone knows to be the biggest, ‘notes only’ Church collection, (bar none), your poor, forgetful father is sweating buckets because he’s only got a few copper coins jingling in the end of his sport’s jacket pocket.