first communion promenade series

Proud to be part of the First Communion Promenade.

(Don’t hold it against them for letting me in, okay?)

Be sure to check out all the posts we’ve done this week, and link up your First Communion posts on Monday!

Last Saturday, our oldest daughter, age 8 (“and a half,” she would add), celebrated her First Communion.

E after FC copy


That does not make me an expert. It does not indicate that I have any authority to share this post with you. It does mean that, as someone who suspects Purgatory is half covered in shopping aisles and fluorescent lights and half involved in event planning, I can share a few of my pointers.

— 1. Remember why. —

Our First Communicants receive instruction from the time our religious education program begins in October until the spring (and through the end of the school year, really). But that’s not the instruction that’s important. What matters most is what the kids learn at home, with their family.

The two workshops we had to prepare us, the videos and classes, and the discussions weren’t worth half of my 8-year-old seeing me teary during an especially moving Mass. (No good reason for that “moving” experience. I was just (embarrassingly) overcome.) All of the “book learning” didn’t replace the fact that Father barely caught himself a few times and almost gave her Communion early.

In the midst of event planning activities (which are akin to toenail surgery to me in many ways), I had to remember what this was all about. It’s about Jesus. It’s about receiving Jesus, really receiving him.

It’s about the Eucharist. Period. Don’t lose sight of that.

— 2. Plan ahead. —

You would think, given that I’m a self-proclaimed ENTJ that I would be all over this. Except here’s the thing: procrastination and denial seem to go hand-in-hand and something else is always more important than the thing I hate to do.

Think of all the little details and make a list, if that makes you happy. (We could get into a discussion of whether the joy of list-making can trump the evil of event planning, but I will refrain. For now.) You could even make columns and give yourself a timeline. (Cue the joyful music and open a spreadsheet if it makes you smile.)

But really, none of that matters if you don’t really PLAN AHEAD, as in making the phone calls, sending the emails, and mailing the invitations (if you’re the invitation-sending kind of gal). You won’t get the lector from your daughter’s baptism if you don’t alert her well in advance. She will probably say yes and even be delighted, but she can’t read your mind. Want to make sure your favorite deacon is in attendance? One little correspondence is all it takes to at least ask.

But then there’s the “follow up” side of planning ahead. Hmm. Yes. It’s like the step that keeps giving. And giving. BUT NOT STRESSING, because you’re not putting it off, RIGHT?

***At our parish, we have the option to have individual First Communions. So instead of my daughter being part of one of the two class First Communions, we chose the Mass we normally attend, picked a date, and made sure our very close family friends (whose daughter is the same age) were part of it as well.

Fr. Pat and Elizabeth copy

— 3. Enlist help. —

I’m a big fan of celebrating our babies’ baptisms with a party. I don’t usually do birthday parties beyond our immediate family, but I will chuck my “I hate party planning” hesitations out of the window in order to live it up for a baptism. It happens once in your life, after all. Shouldn’t it be the sort of thing we do celebrate big?

The same’s true for First Communion, at least in my book. And, given the aversion I have to party planning, this step is critical for my mental well-being.

In my experience, it’s farrrrrrrrr harder to accept help than to give it. That doesn’t mean you (I) need it any less. That doesn’t mean you (I) should suck it up and do it all ourselves. Don’t be taken by this fallacy! Ask for help. Enlist the people whose talents match your needs.

In my case, I have a friend who excels and enjoys party planning and hosting big family gatherings. So guess who did the hosting?

(In the words of my grandma, “You owe her BIG TIME.”)

That doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything (though the lack of stress sure felt like less than should be normal for something like a Big Sacramental Celebration Event of Enormous Proportions), but it does mean I was able to play to my strengths.

— 4. Be early. —

I may or may not be preaching to the choir here, but I need this reminder with my crew. I don’t have the science down for this one. Something about wrangling everyone out of the door in enough time to be early-without-being-too-early is simply beyond me.

To accomplish this, then, we drove two cars. I took our First Communicant to church (along with her little sister, who also had a new dress, pretty hair, and an intense interest in every.single.thing her big sister was doing), and my husband came later.

Normally, I hatehateHATE having two cars. Did I mention that I hate it? I don’t know if it’s an affront to efficiency, a hatred of driving, or some other deeply embedded thing, but I go to crazy lengths, most of the time, to avoid this.

But we had! to be early. No way around it.

— 5. Smile. —

Because you’re going have moments like this:

Bob and Elizabeth copy


And those are the moments you want to remember.

The most important meal has already happened, and you get to relive it every single Mass. While you may not look like a princess, you’ll be able to look back later and see these moments and remember.

And so will your First Communicant.