As the date of my son’s First Holy Communion nears, I start to get more and more excited as I make preparations for our celebration. Spiritually, he is ready. Now we make the physical preparations in our home and yard. Every time I go out shopping, I pick up something that is needed for the party. Every time I go out in the back yard with the kids, I rake another pail of leaves out of the gardens.
I have a spreadsheet saved on my computer from the last two First Communions, for my two older daughters. This makes things mentally easier, as I have done this all before. I know what things we need, and from where to get the food, flowers, and other supplies.
The Communion outfit is not so fussy for a boy as it is for a girl. There is no pretty veil, no fussy hairdo (I remember waking up early for my daughters’ Communions, which were both at 10:00 in the morning, attempting to curl pin-straight hair which refuses to hold a curl – it was a disaster both times), no miniature version of a wedding gown, and no fancy white shoes.
We already have his suit, which I purchased for him when he was in my sister’s wedding last summer, purposely a size 8 so it would still fit him in May. And when I bought his school shoes, which he also wore for the first time to the wedding, I got them at the buy-one-get-half-off sale at Payless Shoes, putting away a second pair in a half size larger specifically for this day. I picked up a new white shirt and an arm bow last week.
Invitations were printed up on my own computer, on a nice stationery that has a picture of Jesus in a boat on a lake, overflowing with fish, with his disciples. On the right hand side I have the main information about the church time and place, with the after-party being at my house, and RSVP instructions.
On the inset I have the scripture from Luke 5:1-11 printed with the title “Call of the First Disciples”. Underneath that, with the title “The Holy Eucharist”, is the scripture from Matthew 26:26-29. The purpose of all this is (1) to remind non-practicing Catholics what this day is truly about: it is not just a rite of passage, or a requirement to remain Catholic in title so that our children can get married in the Church, or a reason to have extended family and friends over for a party: this is something sacred, which we take very seriously; (2) as a scriptural explanation to our non-Catholic friends and family, who may not understand why we make such a big deal of First Communion.
I have enough seating but no outdoor tables. I think we borrowed tables last time, from friends who have since moved away. Another table broke in the interim. I am planning on purchasing two wooden picnic table kits from Home Depot in the next month.
Over the years I have learned that simplest is best when it comes to party food. Some years I slaved over hot food, which takes time, is messy, has to be kept warm, and then has to be cleaned up and put away. Everyone seems to be just as happy with a circular hero that I order from our favorite supermarket, side salads, a vegetable platter, and a fruit platter. The leftovers are great for lunch the following week. Why fuss for no reason? I’m only one person, and I should be able to enjoy my son’s special day as much as everyone else.
We’ve always been lucky with the weather forecast, and I’m counting on it being a lovely day. The kids can play volleyball, croquet, and bocce ball. If I see rain predicted for that day, I will have to start making alternate plans. Until that time, I will keep my fingers crossed!
Painting by Sanzio Raffaello, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, 1515.