First Communion: A Journal Entry

Alex 1st Communion 014Where do I begin to detail a First Communion weekend? Perhaps with Friday morning, when I realize my company actually is arriving that night instead of Saturday afternoon, which means I actually do have to clean my house before dinner. Or maybe I should start with Alex coming home from school, wired and wound up by the thought of grandparents and a cousin coming for a sleepover–and not just a sleepover, but a TWO-NIGHT sleepover! Only he’s strangely lethargic despite his excitement, and I frown at what appears to be the beginnings of a runny nose.

And there’s the ice cream run, and the best mini Chocolate Extreme blizzard ever, and Michael insisting on feeding himself his own ice cream, and deciding at the bottom of the cup that he’s not going to waste any of it, and drinking the dregs. The cup covers his entire face, and when he’s done there’s a big sticky ring around his features. And we’re still waiting for Julianna to finish.

There’s the arrival of the family, an hour after bedtime, and the room full of boys who won’t go to sleep until almost 10:00. And who wake up at 6:05 a.m. on Saturday.

1st Communion Cake
(Incidentally: yes, I am VERY proud of this cake.)

There’s the mowing of the lawn, and the opening of the Google Hangout so Michael’s godparents can see him, and the excitement of going with Grandpa to the store for doughnuts. There’s a hasty trip to the grocery store, and a shower, and a wedding to play in the afternoon, and a cake to bake and decorate. And don’t forget about making schnitzel and noodles–Alex’s requested birthday dinner, which is, yanno, only the most in-depth, time-intensive dinner I prepare. It’s turning into one of those weekends where I can scarcely breathe, and my blood pressure is sky high from stress. Thankfully I have extra hands in the house to help.

By dinnertime, I’m struck by the odd sensation that I’ve barely interacted with my children all day. Alex is well and truly sick–low-grade fever. And I’m thinking, Oh, no! Tomorrow’s his first Communion! What do we do about taking the CUP???? Do I tell him he can’t take the cup? On his FIRST COMMUNION????

(Please withhold comments about how the Real Presence is present under one species. I’m a liturgist. I know this. It’s still his First Communion.)

By the time I roll into bed I’m completely shot. But Michael’s up twice in the night, and the third time, at 4:30a.m., I realize with a shot of adrenaline that the rolls for our luncheon are still in the deep freeze, and we’re going to be gone all morning. I’m trying to work out a timeline for assembling rolls in the shape of a bunch of grapes and having them rise and be ready to bake after Mass, and realizing there isn’t a timeline in which that scenario works. I go downstairs in the dark, trying not to wake my in-laws as I dig through the deep freeze in the dark. I go back to bed because I have to–I have to take my temperature at 5:30. But I know full well I’m finished sleeping for the day.

Bunch of grapes--rolls
(Well, it sort of looks like a bunch of grapes.)

By 5:35, Alex is awake. No longer feverish (whew!) but definitely sniffly, and too wound up to sleep. I do a Jazzercise video and assemble the roll creation and put it under a towel in the refrigerator, and we start getting everyone ready for church. Julianna does not want to wear her gorgeous spangled Easter dress. “Doh! I doh wike ee! Doh! I doh wike ee!” she shrieks, and fights me every limb of the way. I think it’s the netting she doesn’t like.

Alex bored
(You can tell he’s not feeling his best, poor guy.)

Church passes in a hazy blur of trying to make sure everything comes together: choir and family logistics, not screwing up the psalm, which I’m playing and Christian’s singing, getting over to join the family for the First Communion itself without making a spectacle. Alex’s hair, newly cut and thick, is soft under my fingers, and my heart feels so full, it bubbles up and wells up through my eyes. I’m trying to hit “pause” and experience this moment to the fullest, but I know it’s not his first Communion that will be most meaningful to me–there’s simply too much else going on to worry about–it’ll be next week, when we file up in line as a family and Alex receives.

And by the way, I’ve decided the heck with the cold. He’s taking the cup.

Alex bringing gifts


Alex first Communion*

Alex 1st Communion 041

Alex 1st Communion 056After Mass I get to hear about how my kids behaved. “Nicholas and Elise were the highlight of Mass,” my sister-in-law says. “She sidles over beside him and says, ‘I’m four.'”

‘I’m four, too.’

Looking each other up and down. ‘I go to school.’

‘I go to school, too.’

‘I like your dress. Where’d you get it?’

‘From Liz.'”

And my son and his cousin proceed to share hymnals they can’t read for the duration of Mass. “Seriously,” my sister-in-law says, “are they hitting on each other????”

Well….let’s put it this way: inseparable for the rest of the day. Because: “You’re going to sit there, because you’re four. I’m gonna sit there, too. Because I’m four, too.”

Well, enough Journaling. Nose back to the grindstone, with books being ripped and Tonka dumpers being smacked down. Thanks for indulging me this morning.